Birnbach Communications Issues Top 3 Predictions for 2020

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For the 18th year, here are our predictions for the upcoming year. 

As always, we will be rolling out other key trends over a series of blog posts but here are our top 3 predictions for 2020:

1.   Distrust of Big Tech and media fuels anxiety. In a divided America, where even advertising decisions can cause Twitterstorms, companies need to find ways to be credible as well as relevant. There’s no simple solution for Big Tech like Apple, Amazon and Google regarding safeguards on the data they collect on all of us part of surveillance capitalism, in which data is collected, correlated with behavior and monetized —  or for social media because there’s no clear or consistent definition of what constitutes misinformation or how to limit it without infringing on protected free speech. There’s also no easy solution for the media, where even the “facts” may be disputed. Unfortunately, deepfakes (AI-generated fake videos and other images) will make it harder to know what’s real. This will fuel feelings of anxiety, anger, exhaustion, and isolation, regardless of political perspective. We expect many Americans will look for solutions and companies that provide joy, comfort, assurance and reliability to bolster their sense of well-being and connection.

2.  The loss of local news coverage will continue, and will erode trust. More than one in five local papers have closed since 2004, according to the UNC School of Journalism and Media, while others have become hollowed out through layoffs. This is a real problem since local news outlets are often part of the fabric that holds communities together. According to “Losing the News: The Decimation of Local Journalism,” by PEN America, “The connection between local journalists and their communities is essential… Seventy-six percent of Americans report trusting their local TV news, and 73 percent report trusting their local newspapers; by contrast, 55 percent of Americans trust national network news and 59 percent trust national newspapers.” For marketers, fewer journalists and outlets makes it harder to reach customers, partners, investors and employers with their messages.

3.  Streaming services will get a lot of media and consumer attention. HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock will battle for attention and subscribers with Netflix, Hulu, Apple+, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services in the “streaming wars.” But it’s not a zero-sum game; there’s room for a range of services that have different strategies in their content libraries, pricing and offerings. We do expect a certain amount of churn/volatility as people subscribe to binge a particular show and drop it till the next season begins. The growing number of these ad-free streaming content services will make it harder for marketers to reach a mass audience.


As always, let us know if you agree or disagree with these. 

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