Porter Gale’s five trends to watch for

A look ahead from a former Virgin marketing exec

Porter GaleIn the three years since Porter Gale stepped away from her role as vice-president of marketing at Virgin America, she has quickly made her way around the startup world.

Gale has consulted with dozens of fledgeling companies, and on Aug. 21 she will share some of those lessons at Grow, an annual business conference in Vancouver.

Marketing caught up with Gale to talk about what the startup world tells her about the future. Here’s five trends she expects to see in the coming months:

PR is getting a tech update

PR is about to get a whole lot more tech savvy, according to Gale. In measurement specifically, the days of clippings reports are gone and the industry is moving towards more sophisticated ways of measure PR’s value.

Gale says this will lead to new roles like PR engineer who will track the success of PR campaigns and draw lessons from the data they produce.

“That’s a new role I’m seeing within organizations,” Gale says. “A person who is looking at the data behind press placements and content, then strategically making decisions based on that data.”

“That’s what we do in online buying now and you’re going to bring more data insights to the PR function in the next couple of years.”

More inventory is headed to programmatic

Gale, who acts as a marketing consultant for a programmatic firm called Rocketfuel, says that as the programmatic space matures, she expects publishers will put more inventory into exchanges and marketers will invest more.

“The programmatic space is growing,” Gale says. “There’s more inventory – a lot of publishers are putting a greater percentage into the exchanges instead of just direct. They’re realizing this is no longer [just a place for] remnant inventory. They can put high-value inventory into auction and get fair prices or even better prices.”

Programmatic will get smarter, more contextual

As programmatic matures, Gale says the exchanges will start to include more data points about the consumers to whom they’re serving ads, improving targeting.

“There’s going to be a layering of data that’s fed into these models,” she says. “There’s going to be more contextualization about what you’re interested in, where you’re at and what your behaviour is like.”

“As long as marketers and companies use this in a positive way, there’s the potential for more efficient advertising that’s more personalized on a mass level. More relevant and better performing ads,” she says.

Video will only get more popular

Video’s popularity is set to further explode, Gale says, especially where it intersects with social media. Because it’s now easier than ever to shoot and compress video, it’s set to grow amongst both marketers and consumers, Gale says. That means more high quality web series, but also more Vines and Instagram videos.

“The role of video is that it’s a great storytelling medium,” she says. “I don’t know who historically said a picture is worth 1,000 words, but I think a video is probably worth one million.”

Social will merge with sales channels

Sales and social should soon get much closer, too, Gale says. She lists the design-based social network Houzz as an example of how this works. Houzz is a network where architects and designers post photos of the interiors of homes. On some of the photos, there’s links directly on the photos users can click to purchase items.

This is a likely model for social sites of all stripes, according to Gale. “It’s a blending of a vertical social site that’s all about a specific type of content, but it’s also a sales channel. That’s that blurring of ad and content that we’re going to see more of in the future,” she says.

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