At Kantar we’ve spent much of the last few weeks thinking about the here and now, supporting our clients on immediate marketing strategies and planning for the next few months. But it’s now more important than ever to look further ahead; and for media and advertising, to imagine what scenarios the future might hold.
WPP agency Essence has recently published a new report, Advertising in 2030, which does exactly that. In January and February 2020, before lockdown in many markets, they interviewed over 50 global experts, including a few of us from Kantar, on a wide array of topics including Data and Personalisation; Content, Creativity and Media; and Society, AI and the Future of Work. The report gives a glimpse into the future but is now even more pertinent, as the pandemic forces the industry to urgently reconsider and re-examine received wisdom on these topics.
Reading the final report is fascinating, and on a few topics there were divergent opinions: see the range of views held on key issues such as data privacy. Some are optimistic, and others pessimistic, but many hover cautiously in between.
The understanding of how data is used is of course a pressing issue today; the recently released Kantar DIMENSION 2020 report shows that 54% of connected adults find it intrusive when they receive advertising as a result of past online activity. DIMENSION 2020 looks at the implicit value exchange when data is handed over, and what that means for giving up your personal data in today’s world. The Essence report concludes that in 2030 this is likely to include biometric data, in exchange for more personalised services or communications – again, a phenomenon rapidly being expedited with the rise of contact tracing apps.
When thinking about the potential for artificial intelligence (AI), many of the contributors fell into the ‘pro-human societal transformers’ group – i.e. that AI should be led by humans, for human benefit. They were also confident about the benefit of frictionless bot-to-bot transactions doing the work for consumers. Having a bot handle your dreary renewal tasks might actually improve customer experience, for example in low interest low frequency categories like insurance.
I felt quite strongly that automation could lead to some big changes in work and working patterns – but others disagreed. As we are beginning to suspect now, the pandemic might force many of these changes to happen even earlier. The topic the group most strongly agreed on, meanwhile, is the impact of the environment on purchase decisions. In 2030, might all packaging include standard environmental metrics, akin to nutritional labels on food packaging? Whether we reach that level of commitment or not, consumers will certainly be more adept at gauging the authenticity of brand commitments to sustainability.
There was also a discussion about the sustainability of major tech/social platforms: there was a consensus that they were unlikely to be dismantled by 2030. And the group was mostly cynical about whether a global approach to consumer data privacy could be instigated or coordinated.
If there’s one thing we’ve realised in the last few months, it’s about the intricate connections between the economy, sustainability and human futures. I’m sure that this pandemic will speed up some of these changes, so some of the report may be remarkably prescient even closer in than we’d imagined.
While the idea of 3D printed steak doesn't seem particularly gratifying, I am willing to be proved wrong!