I have just had the good fortune to be sent a brilliant white paper from Acision and OgilvyOne, developed as part of their ongoing collaboration in the mobile advertising space.

You can download the entire paper or view below.

While the title of the paper is “Mobile Advertising – 2020 vision“, I think it actually goes further and is a very brave (and I believe accurate) look at how ADVERTISING will look in 2020.

The paper echoes many of the thoughts and sentiments I have been expressing at various conferences and events over the last 18 months so I am delighted to promote it here.

Some of the key points raised in the paper are

  1. The advertising agency will transform from one which is industry-led, namely by the brands, to one where the individual is brought more into the communication process.
  2. The consumers will evolve from those having advertisements pushed to them, to being able to select what information is allowed to reach them.
  3. Different types of mobile operators will be formed

The paper looks at the concept of mobile directed advertising – quoting from the paper below

“Mobile advertising in 2020 will be mobile directed advertising. It is about collaboration and individual control. The mobile device will enable the individuals to decide where, when and on what screen they would like to receive their chosen advertisement.

Advertising will move away from creating campaigns which are forced upon particular consumer categories and instead will transform to engage in constant conversations, where both parties participate.”

As I mentioned in the intro, I think this paper is actually describing the way pure advertising will look in 2020.  An interesting parallel is that back in 1999 when I was working at Telstra, we hired futurist Nicholas Negroponte to speak at a large executive customer briefing.

This was at the height of the “e-business craze”.  The one thing he said 10 years ago that has really stuck was that “…in a few years we won’t be talking about ‘e-business’ – it will just be business, conducted online”.

The same is true here.  In 2020 we won’t be talking about “mobile advertising” and “Facebook advertising”, we will just be talking about advertising…or will we?

Another key concept raised in the paper is that of peer advocacy. Here the paper suggests

“There will be a greater involvement between advertisers and consumers. One manifestation of this, which will be led very much by individuals, is that of peer advocacy. This is something which has been driven by the social networking sites.

There is nothing more powerful in advertising terms as personal recommendation. One can recommend to another that something should be used, engaged with or bought as easily as recommending that should be avoided.

This concept is already gaining momentum in the online world, for instance, most people will check Trip Advisor before booking into an unknown hotel to see what other people have said about the establishment.”

This is one of my central arguments around why this paper is actually a window into advertising in 2020.  With the explosion of social media, and sites like twitter hitting the mainstream, power is being transferred to the individual.

The paper strongly supports one of my arguments that in the future the individual will decide what advertising / information they want to receive, and on what device / medium.

We will see the shift from the broadcast medium (where the same ad is sent to everybody) to a model where brands have to breach our own firewall subject to our own set of rules.  The role of our peers in discovering and recommending things we like cannot be underestimated – and this is happening already.

At a recent social media event run by Figaro Digital in London, I overheard 2 brands chatting in the break.

“…where do we begin – we need to be in this [social media] space but we have 16 agencies all doing small pieces.  We need the right person to tell us where to start – and how we listen to conversations online”.

Individuals are becoming empowered by social media tools to get information from their own trusted advisors – their friends, family and followers. In fact is this a new phrase – the “3F’s of recommendation?”

While the paper does not directly say it (given Ogilvy are one of the world’s largest agencies in the world they can’t say this), what I picked up is that advertising as we know it, and hence the ecosystem of brands and agencies will also change forever by 2020.

The paper uses mobile as the proxy for change, but I firmly believe that it is social media driving the change and starting to set the agenda.

To test this – the temperature around mobile advertising seems to have changed over the last 6-8 months.  Brands and agencies now realise that mobile operators are the ones in the way here – slowing progress.

Social media is a hotter topic because a brand can get better value by interacting via social media than via mobile alone.

Better value because they get an immediate insight from what individuals are saying about their brand (and the rise of social listening tools from companies such as Radian6, Techrigy, Scout Labs and others will help facilitate this – look out for a separate post soon on this topic).

Better value because they can identify and understand the influencers of a brand, product and service and work to provide them with the best possible information – allowing them in turn to promote the brand through their own trusted networks.

Better value because they will be able to shorten development cycle times as real time information about a product can be fed back to the brand, rather than conducting lengthy primary market research behind one way mirrors…

I think we are starting to see a trend where individuals get their “news” and information from multiple trusted sources.  Indeed, one of my morning rituals while on the tube into work is to browse my twitter feed, saving interesting links offered by my followers to delicious or instapaper for later reading.

In fact I cannot remember the last time I responded to or bought something as a result of a “traditional” ad in the mainstream media.  I can however point to multiple examples of products and services I have bought (and continue to buy) as a direct result of a recommendation from an online friend or follower.

So If I am doing this as an innovator, it cannot be too long until more and more people turn to social networks for information and filter out traditional advertising.  Brands know this shift is happening (and this is why at the Figaro event 180 brands and agencies were turned away – such was the demand).

In contrast, mobile advertising conferences I have attended recently have struggled to get between 60 – 100 people maximum in comparison.  The other problem with mobile is that everyone keeps talking about what has to happen, but the brands are not convinced because the operators make it too hard, and consumers don’t want mainstream ads on their mobile.

The Acision / Ogilvy white paper backs up this claim –

“According to Informa Telecoms & Media, Proctor & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser, believed to be spending around USD 6 billion on advertising in 2008, has a meagre USD 10 million allocated for mobile advertising. That is only 0.17% of its overall advertising budget

A quick summary of the rest of this excellent paper tells us

  • The transformation from brand led advertising will be driven by individuals selecting what brand information is allowed to reach them.
  • Each individual will have a digital cog which matches the needs of the individual to their brand affiliation in their vaporframe.
  • We will see individuals identifying brands which match their own needs or interests and granting them permission to reach them.
  • Successful brands in 2020 will be those which collaborate with individuals, include them in communities and rating of their products or services.
  • From a mobile advertising point of view, brands/advertisers are yet to come to the party. Within their budget for advertising there is no separate line item for mobile.
  • With the establishment of industry agreed metrics, the next development along the way to 2020 will be that reach will be overtaken in terms of value for advertising measurement.
  • In order to achieve this transition from reach to value it is essential that more is known about the audience. Here we will see a greater reliance on preferences.
  • Facilitated advertising –  the greater the understanding about individual’s preferences and way of life will translate into a deeper relationship between the brands and the individual.
  • Peer Advocacy – Peer advocacy in the future will develop to include monetizing these recommendations. It will progress beyond good citizenship to share recommendations or cautionary notes into a mechanism which is rated.
  • Network influencers will be incentivised through financial rewards, for example, where they have clearly contributed towards a converted purchase.

One of the best quotes in the paper was

“Going forward, people’s buying behaviour will be driven not only by the effectiveness of the advertisement but by the peer advocacy surrounding that particular item or brand.”

Powerful stuff!  Don’t be put off by the title of the whitepaper. If you are a brand or are involved in advertising of any sort, you need to read this paper today to see how your industry will change.

The new social networks I believe will be the real catalyst for change.  Mobile is helping to drive the change, but not on its own.

Well done Acision and Ogilvy for this thought provoking and challenging look into advertising in 2020.

Perhaps I will see you at an upcoming event –  I will be speaking at ad:tech London in September.