Look Back/Look Ahead: Boot eyes ROI

Sunni Boot, president/CEO of ZenithOptimedia, shares some provocative thoughts about the year that was and what's ahead.

As part of our Look Back/Look Ahead series, ZenithOptimedia president/CEO Sunni Boot shares some provocative thoughts about the year that was, and what’s ahead.

MiC: What were some of ’08′s big trends?

The further empowerment of the consumer, further media consolidation, increased monetization of social media, the rise of digital and the increase in mobile.

MiC: What happened last year that dismayed or worried you?

Economic uncertainty is negatively affecting consumer confidence in Canada. Perhaps not to the same degree as in the US, but confidence levels are at their lowest in over a quarter of a century.

MiC: For ’09, what trends or issues are you spying on the horizon?

We will be keeping an eye on the impact of the credit crunch and downsizing activities that will likely constrain consumers’ ability and willingness to spend.

One result will likely be greater focus on the home – both in terms of offering cheaper alternatives to going out (DVD rentals, home-cooked meals) and in terms of offering an emotional cocoon and refuge from the economic storm (home as a social hub, home entertaining, comfort).

We believe that consumers’ use of ‘pay’ or premium media may suffer. People may go to the theatre less often but rent more movies; they may wait on ordering the premium TV services that they have been considering; more newspaper and magazine subscriptions may lapse.

In terms of media consumption, ‘free’ ad-supported content offered by basic cable TV, over-the-air radio, free dailies and the Internet are less vulnerable, and we predict that both conventional and specialty TV viewing will go up.

MiC: What do you see as the next big opportunity?

The central issue of ROI, which has always been a core focus of ZenithOptimedia, will become an even greater concern for marketers.

Digital continues to offer opportunity, but also poses a challenge for many as they look for ways to effectively integrate digital solutions into communications. Specifically, communications that actually help marketers connect with consumers in a cost-efficient and relevant way. Those agencies that can do smart, cross-platform integration well will succeed.

The role of the media agency will be broader and deeper than ever. The changing consumer and media landscape, particularly against the backdrop of this economic climate, will offer agencies opportunities to provide more strategic and creative contributions that drive profitable business results for clients.

MiC: What’s the next big looming threat?

Will the US ‘cure’ be worse for Canada than the ‘illness’? – US protectionism and anti-free trade sentiment.