Predicted Ad Trends for 2011

It will come as no surprise to those of us paying attention to trends that advertisers are asking more of their audiences than ever before. In previous years, the modus operandi has been for advertisers to show pictures, play music, and try to impress while target consumers relax on the couch. Relax no more, audiences. In 2011 and beyond, advertisers will be putting audiences to work. The new rule of engagement is, in fact, “engagement”. New online ads will require the audience to “click” for the full story or experience that will drive a message home. It is predicted that online ads will, more and more, link an end-user directly to the point of purchase, cutting out any waffling a consumer may feel while considering a buying decision.  The engagement revolution is not exclusive to online ads. Print and TV ads are, increasingly, requiring that audiences scan a code to find a hidden message or receive the chance to win some coveted opportunity that only those “in the know” get to access. The end goal of these more complex processes is to create loyalty through participation and to turn that loyalty, ultimately, into sales and evangelism.

In return for requesting more participation, marketers and brands are going to have to step up and provide a service for consumers on the mobile front. Brands are getting wise to the fact that fun but frivolous mobile apps are overlooked for those that actually provide a service. Statistics have shown that branded apps are often downloaded and accessed when new, but will sit unused on a mobile “desktop” after the initial fascination has worn off and the app fails to perform a valuable function.  In response, marketers are creating apps that work for audiences; like the Proctor & Gamble bathroom tissue branded app that is designed to locate clean public bathrooms using a geotracking system.

Over the last several years, our society has developed collective Attention Deficit Disorder brought on by a barrage of messages from a variety of media demanding our attention. In response to our refusal or inability to pay attention to lengthy messages, advertisers began to shrink the length of audio/visual advertising spots. Trends indicate that this may be turning around in 2011 and beyond.  Longer ads will be coming back onto the scene that will use internet enabled televisions, Xbox, Apple TV and other interactive features cable operators are anxious to integrate into our couch potato routines.  According to Alan Cohen, chief executive of the US operations of OMD, a media buying firm owned by Omnicom Group, Inc., “Creative agencies will be developing deep, long-form content as consumers engage in marketers’ brands as they do their favorite TV shows.”  Is this just a marketer’s dream turned prediction? Will consumers ever spend as much time and energy interacting with marketing messages as they do their favorite TV shows and games? Only time will tell.  Marketers, keep your eye on this one!

Two more emerging trends, (or reemerging trends) we are compelled to mention are straight out of the Reagan era.  Combined, they would look something like Molly Ringwald singing about B-O-L-O-G-N-A. You guessed it,’80s television and movie actors can look forward to gainful employment once again and the use of jingles may also be making a comeback according to experts.  Retro stars have been slowly making a comeback for a few years now while we’ve just seen the re-emergence of jingles in the last year or so. Predictions posit that both phenomena will come back with force in advertising space over the next year.

In the marketing predictions in 2011 and beyond, we see a series of opposing forces that come together to make consumerism and marketing work so well together.  Marketers will start to make audiences work harder to engage with a brand while brands are working harder to perform services for consumers. Contradicting the recent slide toward making messages shorter and sweeter, new technologies are creating a trend toward marketers’ lengthening and deepening messages. Finally, we’ll start to see what’s old presented as new again; our favorite ‘80s actors will be hawking products while those catchy jingles so popular in the post-depression years will ring out again.  As fun and contradictory as these all may sound, they wouldn’t be “trends” if there weren’t a significant and positive response from target audiences. A great reminder to perform audience reaction and trend checks, and ensure marketing strategies and tactics are in alignment to produce desired results.

Source: “Ad Execs Gaze Into 2011 Crystal Ball” by Suzanne Vranica; posted on Wall Street Journal online.

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