SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Opinion

My crystal ball shows trends to watch in ’06

1. Content holders are still king. While “podcasting” might have been the word of the year for 2005, the digital mad dash for video content, and how we utilize it, will certainly have an enormous impact in 2006. How the networks choose to deal with advertising and sponsorship in this new medium and how quickly sports properties can offer consumers the ability to watch live and on-demand action will be paramount to the discussion.

2. Your children are blogging. Are you? Social networking sites already bind our kids together like Little League and the Rolling Stones did for us many moons ago. and are driving a new dot-com boom, which could offer disciplined marketers an avenue to speak to the elusive teen and young adult segment. Look for these sites to get into the advertising and sponsorship game as they attempt to differentiate. On a blogging-related note: This new citizen journalism is added incentive for teams and athletes to stay clean or face the consequence of public embarrassment, and accountability is good for everyone.

3. The Hispanic boom becomes deafening. Univision will have eye-popping ratings for its coverage of the World Cup this year, following a trend we saw with the Latin Grammy Awards. This segment will impact the market like none before it, and 2006 will be the year that it is impossible to ignore.

4. Municipal marketing comes to a town near you. As cities and towns across America are strapped with the mounting costs of security and infrastructure, look for corporations to step in and fund major city initiatives that give them high visibility and relevance where consumers work, play and live.

5. Cause marketing continues. It could be the overwhelming tragedies we witnessed in the past year at home and abroad, or it could be that myself and my counterparts are hitting middle age, and wondering what it is we’re all here for. … But you will see an increase in marketing programs developed around corporate responsibility, which will be far more strategic than traditional corporate philanthropy. Fund-raising initiatives and “doing the right thing” won’t be an afterthought; they will be an essential part of the marketing mix in 2006.

6. Wild-card predictions: Poker fades due to oversaturation and, you heard it here first … there will be a Triple Crown winner in 2006!

Michael Lynch is the Visa USA senior vice president, event and sponsorship marketing.

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