If you're reading this, it means the world hasn't ended yet. Oh goody gumdrops! I prepared my annual industry predictions for 2012 in advance due to our print deadlines on AdVantage, so I'd be really pissed off if there was no one left to read them and I'd angsted over them for nothing. So here goes...
The world won't end, but business as we know it has. Aside from global politics and the economic meltdown, the way we do business - across all our industry spheres - has been changing for a long while, since the birth of the internet, nourished by frenetic growth in social media and encouraged by a global surge in activism (ie the Occupy movement).
Harassment of journalists and editors will increase in South Africa with some potentially being detained, as Government inevitably starts flirting with implementing the euphemistically-named Protection of Information Bill. The fight to take POIB to the Constitutional Court will be one of the biggest stories of 2012. Journalists will be wearing a lot of black this year as a result.
There will be more print media closures in the South African media landscape - pure economics, not politics - not only from all the big media groups, but also from smaller independent publishers who have been struggling for a while. Advertising dollars did not return after the original recession cutbacks as advertisers played it safe, and there will be an inevitable consolidation of resources in the media world as a result.
This impact does not exclude digital publishers, whose low rates and attractive user numbers have made them somewhat immune in the past to the same budgetary pressures of print publishers, who have seen costs soar and revenues slump. Digital publishers have to diversify beyond their reliance on a single medium or brand and straight display advertising. They have to do more marketing and they have to take their brand offline, in some instances, to allow more direct user engagement.
Everyone needs to think like a brand strategist and a creative director (up to a point, of course) and put their brand first, and that includes ensuring all employees and suppliers in the brand cycle/product value chain have bought into the same message. Innovation is the word of choice here and many big brands are appointing innovation officers.
Experience marketing is on the increase, not just for consumers, but thought leaders as well, including those bloggers who have successfully tapped into niche segments of culture and society. Endorsement by a 'celeb' or a media influencer, including bloggers and journalists, is becoming more important than the press release, particularly for luxury brands.
Creative spaces: a growing trend in the advertising, media and marketing fraternity in SA is for that of senior people to relocate to the dorp or seaside village of choice, for a more value-driven lifestyle, commuting to head office in the larger cities. We've seen it with more than a dozen creative and marketing senior appointments in the industry over the past couple of years, as well as returning expats.
Privacy will start becoming a bigger issue among individuals and corporates vis-à-vis their employees' social media engagement online. The lines have blurred extensively as to what is personal and corporate information, the personal and corporate brand, as well as how the mega digital brands such as Google and Facebook are plotting our search and user habits online.
The broadband wars will continue in SA as the telecommunications providers battle it out for market share; the consumer will ultimately win as costs decrease.
Face-to-face and specialist engagement will be a growing trend as more brands open their own digital channels to target consumers directly, FNB being the bank that impressed everyone in the past year.
Facebook's shift to monetising its corporate pages, 'F-commerce', will be a hot topic in 2012.
SA politics will take centre stage as the battle for leadership of the ANC and SA's top job heats up on the Road to Mangaung.
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