This piece was first published in #TheFutureByDesign. Click here to download the publication with insights from the leading minds in marketing, creative, technology and advertising industries.

Imagine standing in front of a mirror, and getting a lot more from it than merely your reflection. Imagine getting advice on what to wear or taking a 360 degree photograph of  yourself to see how you look, front, side and back. This technology is already with us, thanks to LG’s magic mirror and the Internet of Things, which makes media management a whole lot more complex and challenging for brand owners. Martin MacGregor, managing director of Connect, weighs in on the future of media.

Media Magazines“The future of advertising is no different from the past in that it is all about relevant brand stories that compel action – there are just a million more ways to do it,” says MacGregor who adds that data and technology are the two forces that will most shape advertising’s future. “Data allows better understanding of consumers. This means brands will be able to pitch more relevant messages to consumers more often. However, this data is nothing without the technology that enables the insights and efficient delivery.”

When it comes to attitudes or a way of thinking about the future, MacGregor advises never to imprison thinking. “The future is never the same as you imagined it would be. This means flexibility is critical, it is important to course correct as you move forward.” MacGregor’s advice to brands it stick to the basics. “The future as always is about more certainty and less assumption,” he says, and adds: “In advertising this means brand owners must be sure of what they are saying, and where they deliver this message, and if it will yield the results they desire.”

When it comes to questions about the degree to which media will change in the future, MacGregor cautions that it is important to differentiate content from media. “Content  (journalism, writing, compelling brand communication) won’t change – it’s a basic human need.” MacGregor says what will change is how your content is delivered and consumed, and says that technology will obviously be the big driver of that change. “Advertising at its core will always be just a relevant message. The construct will adapt dependent on the platform – right now, an audiovisual ad needs a different construct for TV (on my couch, receptive) to YouTube (searching for something specific, my time, irritation) in order to pull me in. The same principle applies across all mediums,” the MD of Connect explains.

But worry not, MacGregor says there’s nothing to fear. “The past shows us that you don’t need to fear. The important mindset to maintain is one of constant adaption, but this attitude is already so prevalent and is a core skill set of anyone in marketing or advertising. All brand managers need to do is to put the consumer first and the rest is common sense and simplicity.”

A final word of advice from MacGregor for the future? “Lose the word ‘media’. You are in the content distribution game. Understand the relationship between your consumers and the content and deliver it to them in the most efficient and easy way.”

About Martin MacGregor

When he’s not trail running, watching test cricket or reading quality journalism, Martin MacGregor leads Connect, which is part of the M&C Saatchi Group in South Africa.

Follow him on Twitter: @MartMacG