Three surprising predictions for the future of marketing

… from yesterday’s Huddle for Good

November 18, 2016

Mindshare Huddle

Mindshare’s Huddle events are designed to help ideas collide in productive and unpredictable ways. They’re full of energy, full of diverse viewpoints and experiences – and as a result, they throw up some intriguing visions of the future of marketing.

It was exciting to be a part of that process at Huddle for Good in London yesterday. Members of our LinkedIn Marketing Solutions team were spread out across the hundreds of huddles crammed into Mindshare’s offices. Here are three of the most surprising predictions about the future of marketing that they heard being shared there. They’re surprising because they challenge some of the roles that brands and their marketing tactics have traditionally played, because they involve sending some recent trends into reverse, or simply because few people have come up with such ideas before. It’s too early to say whether they will actually come to pass – but they certainly provide food for thought in the meantime.

The US Election will change the nature of Programmatic
At first glance this sounds like two very different subjects to mash together – but as Will Hayward of JOE Media argued in a Huddle on the ‘The End of Advertising’, they’re far more closely connected than many marketers have realised. As concern grows about the ‘filter bubble’ effect fuelling more extreme political views on all sides (including through ‘fake news’ sites that can dominate people’s feeds), it’s important to ask where the funding for these sites tends to come from. According to Hayward, a lot of it flows through programmatic advertising that chases clicks and eyeballs without worrying about what those eyeballs are actually consuming. If brands want to be associated with more responsible, open-minded content, they will need to get more precise and selective in how they use programmatic. This could help accelerate the trend from open auctions towards more focused private marketplaces for programmatic buying.

Brands or tech companies could become the new football broadcasters
This was the bold prediction of fan-centred content site The Football Republic and real-time match stats supplier Squawka, in one of the final Huddles of the day. Their claim was that the era of football broadcast rights being snapped up by broadcasters for astronomical sums is coming to an end – because when audiences increasingly consume football through fan sites and online streaming, the numbers add up less and less for the likes of Sky and BT.

What could step into the gap? Well, in one form or another, brands. If in-play betting companies avoid a ban on daytime advertising, they may be tempted to bid to own Premier League football and dominate broadcasts. If they don’t, then the plummeting ad revenues that result could bring the price of Premier League TV rights down and open up the playing field to other types of broadcaster – including content-focused brands. After all, it wasn’t long ago that Budweiser marked its FA Cup sponsorship with exclusive live streaming of the competition’s early rounds. Then there are tech companies like Google, which have plenty of budget available to get into the mix.

In truth, this was one of the least popular predictions made at Huddle. Squawka and The Football Republic took a vote to find out how many huddlers agreed with their prediction at the start of the session – and found that almost none did. They took another vote at the end and got the same result. It’s certainly hard to imagine anything other than traditional media companies owning football – but stranger things have happened. Who’d have predicted five years ago that a giant, fixed-line telephone company would own the Champions League broadcast rights in the UK?

Digital and data will help bricks and mortar fight back against eCommerce
Up to now, the digital revolution has been presented as universally bad for bricks and mortar stores, strangling small independent shops and driving the demise of high streets and small market towns. A very different vision of the future is held by – which was involved in several popular huddles yesterday. This organisation believes that digital and data can be put to work to help collections of independent shops compete more effectively – pooling resources, building brands and a sense of identity for local high streets, enabling smarter stock control and more. Could it happen? Some might say click and collect is already a step in that direction. It’s certainly true that ‘traditional trade’ shopkeepers in rapid-growth Asian eCommerce markets have a far more symbiotic relationship with online shopping. Like all the others – this is an idea worth keeping tabs on. You heard it here first…

As a final note, I’d just like to say congratulations to Mindshare for a great event that generated a wealth of intriguing and provocative ideas. If you’d like to explore more of them, spend some time with Mindshare’s Showcase Page dedicated to all things Huddle.