John Poelking
John Poelking is a Leisure Analyst at Mintel. His passion for live entertainment, movies, television, technology and travel informs his sector knowledge.

2019 is set to be one of the most disruptive years to the media landscape in the modern era. New services from Apple, Disney, Google and Snapchat have all made formal announcements in the last six weeks alone with more expected announcements to come before year’s end. A 5G network with lower latency will also be introduced in major cities by the end of the year. In such a fast-paced market, it’s never too early to start thinking about the future.

Here, we identify the most important aspects to consider when developing 2020 brand marketing strategies and product development:

Invest in personalized content

Decision fatigue is becoming a problem for consumers as more streaming media services continue to flood the market. However, that doesn’t mean the clock has run out for services looking to set-up shop. Preferences will continue to get more personalized and consumers will invest in content that speaks to them, whether that’s something as broad reaching as Netflix or as specialized as The Discovery Channel’s direct-to-consumer service.

More content offerings means more opportunities to connect with specific audiences that do not always feel they are being represented. The best examples of this come from the podcast space. Consumers rally behind podcasts they listen to because of the deep connection typically felt between the listener and host. By way of the medium, podcast hosts are speaking directly to listeners, which creates intimacy and loyalty when they return week after week.

The stigma around the term “niche” has all but disappeared in the modern media landscape. If the content is good quality, the audience that it is intended for is likely to find it.

Develop a gaming strategy

YouTube and Twitch have invested heavily in gaming content both on-demand and live streamed. With Google’s Stadia, the tech giant will make it easy for users to record themselves playing games and upload it to YouTube with the touch of a button. Apple Arcade will also give users access to exclusive mobile games developed for iOS by the end of 2019. Furthermore, Comcast has announced a $50 million dedicated eSports arena in Philadelphia that is expected to be completed in 2021.

There is an abundance of investment happening because gaming is a big deal now. The gaming audience is growing substantially as nerd culture continues to essentially become pop culture. It is particularly compelling for the teen audience as half say that gaming is among the three most important things for which they use technology on a weekly basis, according to Mintel research on trends among US teens.

Tech brands may have been the first to invest in gaming, but brands across categories are strategizing how to get a piece of the pie. The easiest inroad tends to be with eSports as traditional sports marketing strategies can sometimes be transplanted.

However, there are many opportunities within the gaming market outside of eSports that have not been discovered yet. Among the thousands of players with access to a large abundance of games, lie untapped opportunities for sponsorships to reach a dedicated and increasingly diverse young audience. Finding a match between brand and gaming partner can be difficult, but a long-term investment can pay off as gaming is further legitimized.

Understand how to be interactive

Although its potential may not be fully realized until 2021, media companies are already figuring out how they can take advantage of 5G networks. Higher speeds and lower latency allows content to be delivered instantly to the average consumer, but interactive and immersive elements will likely stand out as a true differentiator from 4G/LTE. The most impactful uses of interaction will make waves in the near future:

  • Augmented reality: AR will likely become more integral to live broadcasts. Consumers may be able to customize their viewing experience to overlay statistics, trivia or any number of other information to make the viewing experience more personal.
  • Virtual reality: 5G will have one of the biggest impacts on the potential for VR. Broadcasters will be able to outfit live events with 360-degree cameras to make the experience more immersive for attendees and people watching at home.
  • Sports betting: More than a dozen states will have adopted sports betting by the end of 2019 and more will follow in the coming years. Lower latency from 5G means the delay between live sporting events and a consumer’s screen will be nearly nonexistent. Prop bets can be integrated into live sports platforms for real-time interactions with actual monetary stakes.

What we think

There will be significant technological innovations from hardware and software providers to reshape how consumers see user experiences. Not only do companies need to lean into the disruption rather than fight against it in order to stay relevant, they need to launch products in streamlined avenues where consumers will soon be able to connect at a staggering rate.