by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2018 from a media perspective? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for. Next up is Ashish Williams of MediaCom South Africa.

Ashish Williams

Ashish WilliamsAshish Williams is chief executive officer of MediaCom South Africa. He has in-depth and vast expertise in emerging economies, having spent over 14 years, in three of the five BRICS countries, working for companies such as P&G, Unilever and HSBC. This unique experience has enabled him to drive innovation through digital communication platforms and build digital capabilities that resonate with a South African market.

I really believe that, in the future, only companies that are able to bridge the gap between brand and performance marketing will be successful; those that can’t, won’t survive.

Another trend I’ve noticed is that many companies and brands are heavily investing in technology, as they should, but my belief is that everything must be people-driven. This is why our strategy remains “People first”, because I believe that, without a people-centric approach, the best technology will fall flat as it can’t connect with its audience. With a people-first, better-results philosophy, you can deliver world-class solutions that are rooted in human insights.

Uber and Airbnb are perfect examples of brands that had unique insights into customer needs and then built technology platforms around those needs. Due to this approach, their proprietary technologies changed decades-old business models and moulded new ones, literally putting service offerings into the hands of consumers.

While we always talk about digital data and researchers, my fundamental belief is that you need to get consumer data right first. All data — whether it’s digital, second-party or third-party — needs to fall in line with how the consumer can be understood. This allows you to effectively follow the consumer journey and become part of it.

Therefore, brands aiming to become part of the consumer journey and adapting their communication accordingly is the overarching trend I predict for 2018 and brand engagement moving forward.

The macro environment

From a media perspective, there needs to be a closer alignment between performance marketing (leads- and sales-generation) and brand marketing (creating awareness and building consideration). Essentially, the communication challenge is shifting from ‘one-to-many’ to ‘one-to-one’. Agencies and brands have to develop more one-to-one communication while striking the perfect balance between brand marketing and performance marketing.


Due to low GDP growth, high inflation, and ratings downgrade, the chances are limited for budgets to increase. However, the rest of the African continent is looking promising, with a 5.8% GDP growth compared to a global GDP growth of 3.7–3,8%. This is why I predict Africa will be the driver of advertising budgets.

Changes in messaging

One-to-one communication is going to be vital moving forward for clients and consumers. Interest-based targeting will become more and more prevalent as consumers expect brands to understand them without being too intrusive. The key to effective interest-based targeting is fitting the right brand with the right consumer need and then following it up with the right content to make a connection.

Movement in the industry

One factor that has become clear is that, when things move globally, it will eventually change locally as well.

Typically, there is a two-year delay from more-developed economies to reach South Africa but information travels fast, and we can adopt and leverage these trends within a matter of weeks.

Communication trends

First, a big trend is the attempt to effectively digitise analogue mediums. Secondly, the communication industry is faced with the challenge of efficiently adapting digital to that level of planning and buying.

It all ties back to one-to-one communication. Traditional above-the-line media are adapting, eg radio can now be traded programmatically. This means that messaging also has to adapt. Macro messaging won’t be a viable option for much longer because, in the future, an evolution from ‘one to many’ to ‘one to one’ is not just pertinent — it’s essential.

#BigQ2018 series


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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