How much more will digital media evolve in 2016?



5 February 2016

By: Bryan Hill

The growth of digital media over the past several years has been staggering. While 2015 saw digital video/ streaming start to really eat into the traditional cable TV model – with print media falling victim to digital in the few years prior – what avenues of disruption and innovation will digital media herald in 2016?

Facebook Enters New Business Arenas

With Facebook’s popularity as a social media tool still growing (despite signs that its subscription figures are waning among millennial users), the company will take a closer look at marketing automation in an attempt to infiltrate the physical retail world for potential revenue.

When Facebook announced in late November that their advertising sales had increased 45 percent year over year, the company also unveiled two new ad products targeted toward localised retail marketing. The goal of these new offerings is to establish Facebook as the conversation tool between brands and retailers, offering insight into footfall – data pertaining to the proximity of potential customers and visiting trends – predictive analytics, and potential lead triggers.

Now retailers can locate anonymised customer groups/demographics within 150, 450 and 1,500 feet of their brick-and-mortar locations that are using Facebook... This empowers shop owners to better visualise the success of their campaigns and improve the future targeting. It won’t be too long before this data becomes more granular and it enables retailers to target ads at them in real-time to help drive foot fall in their stores.

All of this trigger-based marketing relates to what Gartner describes as ‘business moments’ transient opportunities that are algorithmically decisioned in real time. This however, is contingent on whether or not the brand , the customer and the associated complex value chain of social media, martech and adtech have the adequate connectivity and data flows in place to synchronise these marketing efforts – This is a challenge that the whole industry will begin to grapple with in 2016.

Facebook also launched their Businesses on Messenger service, which allows companies to interact with customers on an individual basis using the popular Messenger app. By bundling retail communication onto what is already one of the company’s most successful services -- Messenger already reaches more than 600 million subscribers – users are more likely to view the company as a greater asset than just a social tool.

The success of these new business ventures could have far-reaching implications for Facebook and for consumer culture in general. These new tools could eventually help to support the company as a mobile payment/banking facilitator in the not-too-distant future - or even a host for trading communities outside of consumer retail.

Data Privacy Gets Debated

The success of the aforementioned retail marketing campaigns hinge on the exchange and analysis of useful consumer data. In 2016, the conversation regarding data privacy will shift from the once gloomy discussion about cybercrime and the threat of identity theft into much friendlier territory.

This discussion will be bifurcated: On one hand, there is sensitive personal identification information (PII) – ie. Social Security numbers – that needs to be protected to prevent theft. On the other, allowing certain apps to access, retain and analyze data regarding tastes, habits and location can offer users a more targeted, relevant and engaging experience.

The bottom line is that while identity theft is still a rampant crime that people are widely uninformed about, consumers and app users are missing out on a lot of great opportunities when they turn themselves into islands. And is there really true privacy going forward? With the advent of machine learning, algorithmic, probabilistic modelling and AI, with enough data are we all identifiable anyway?
With the just announced replacement for Safe Harbour, the EU-US Privacy Shield, what are the implications? It’s too early to tell but a debate is coming.

I would be a strong supporter of a much more open discussion about how, as individuals, our data is used and the value that we get from ceding some of it. In an online unicast world, with so much information out there, giving up data gets us curated news, better more appropriate SVOD content and more relevant, impactful advertising.