This post is by Stephan Loerk, managing director of the World Federation of Advertisers.
Every New Year comes with three things attached: new trends and projects, a continuation of the same and the odd surprise.
2015 will be no different. We will all still have to deal with the economic uncertainty that has bedeviled us since 2008.
My conversations with marketers indicate that the prognosis is more bullish in the US, but also that the slowdown of high-growth markets such as Brazil and China and geopolitical uncertainties are taking a toll on overall levels of confidence.
Continental Europe, in particular, remains mired in uncertainty as the Eurozone continues its efforts to kick start growth.
But global companies are not standing still and waiting for the economic good news to come to them. The bold ones are taking radical steps and regard digital as a means of transforming whole companies, not just their marketing.
L’Oreal’s appointment of Lubomira Rochet to its executive committee as Chief Digital Officer is something we’ll be seeing more frequently in the future.
The stakes to get the digital transformation right in our industry are so high that we need to take very seriously evidence of the significant fraud in the digital ad market. A report from our US member association, the ANA, and web security investigators White Ops found that online video traffic inflated by robots will cost brands an estimated $6.3bn in 2015.
Such findings make it harder to argue the case for the power of digital to transform growth prospects both for the wider company and within the marketing department. They require determined and concerted action in the US, and also globally, to eradicate the problem and create the basis for the sustainable growth of the digital ecosystem. WFA is committed to contribute to it.
There is also something new for the WFA in 2015. With the Global Marketer Week taking place in Africa for the first time, my team and many of our members are very excited about the prospects for this region.
Figures from the World Bank predict that GDP should hit 4.6% in 2015 for sub-Saharan Africa, rising to 5.1% in 2017 and many of our company members see a major opportunity.
At the WFA, we have doubled the number of national associations from Africa within our membership in recent months. Joining Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa in the WFA family in 2015 are Cameroon, Kenya and Zimbabwe, with the prospect of more to come.
This expansion empowers us to connect more global marketers with local experts to understand the opportunities across the diverse countries of Africa, while also offering our powerful peer-to-peer support networks to marketers within these countries.
I look forward to welcoming you all to Marrakech in March for this celebration of global growth, the prospects for Africa and global innovation.
My surprise for 2015 won’t be a surprise to those who understand fast-growth markets. The first new corporate member to join WFA this year is Vestel, a Turkish home and professional appliances manufacturing company. It joins its ‘compatriots’ Yildiz Holding (owner of Ülker foods, Godiva Cholates and 63 other companies) and Turkcell.
Many of you have may not have heard of Vestel but it’s already the largest TV producer in Europe, accounting for a quarter of the market. It has an incredible growth story since it was founded in 1984.
Joining the WFA is a clear statement of intent about the scale of their ambition. For me personally, it’s also recognition that there is more need than ever for the WFA and its services for brand owners in fast growth markets and beyond.
Here’s to more growth in 2015!