2012 forecast: Bruce Neve, CEO Starcom MediaVest Group

Challenges, predictions and plans for the year to come from the SMG topper.

MiC reached out to some of Canada’s media agency leaders to find out their thoughts on the past year, and the year ahead. Here, SMG’s CEO Bruce Neve talks about some of the challenges facing the industry today and how his agency plans to address them.

What are the biggest challenges facing the media industry in Canada today?

The challenges of today are numerous, given we are in the midst of a major transformation of our industry.

The business model has changed so much and will continue to change such that we have many roles that didn’t even exist five years ago, including analytics, search, branded content, gaming and mobile. The challenge is to attract and fund talent to shift to a new model while still competing in an unfortunately highly commoditized competitive media market, in a volatile global economy.

These challenges also represent opportunities for those willing to take mitigated risks, test and learn, and invest in leading [the way] to achieve a competitive advantage.

Consumer behaviour and technology is changing so fast, it is a struggle to keep abreast of what is real, scalable and ripe for monetization versus chasing shiny new objects.

It is a challenge to evolve our talent model and our remuneration model, to hire mathematicians, analytics experts, cultural technologists, and social and mobile expertise in the right mix with those with creative, consumer insight and leadership skills.

How will you top last year in 2012?

In 2012 we will continue to drive towards our vision of “The Human Experience Company,” which will be demonstrated and realized via continuing innovation, new ventures and partnerships and will be tested in areas that will continue to evolve such as:

- Social TV: This year we will see all the major networks embrace and encourage consumers’ multi-screen/social media behaviour through companion apps and content designed to be social, measuring and monetizing high levels of social interaction. With new products from companies like Samsung, Google and the much-rumoured Apple TV, this space will be very interesting.

- Mobile: Consumers are already there! New location based apps /tools and the rapid increase in the use of the phone as a wallet will provide many opportunities to learn and capitalize on the consumer’s always on/always with me /always connected smartphones. The in-store, pre-purchase opportunity alone is huge.

- Gamification: Not meaning in-game ads, but rather taking the consumer’s love of competition, games, collecting and playing and imbedding that in our design of consumer experiences around our brands, often with mobile, social and local at the heart of it.

- Talk & Touch: We touch and expect a response, we talk to our cars and now our phones, we want to be able to talk to our TVs, outdoor ads, retail displays and iPads.

- Addressability: Unicasting versus mass broadcasting. Delivering more messages to people at the right time, and for whom the product or service is actually relevant. Targeting current or competitive users, all in a scalable ecosystem that respects privacy (laws and basic common sense) in TV will start to come to fruition very late in 2012.

-Social Media: The power of social media is only going to increase as it matures. Better measurement and predictive models already exist, and improved valuation and monetization as well as a deeper talent pool will enter the market in 2012.