It’s been another 12 months of whirlwind change across the creative sectors of the North. But what about 2015? We asked a selection of senior figures from across our industry to give their thoughts on what the next big thing in their sector will be.

A big thank you to all those who have contributed.

Patrick Altoft, Director of Strategy, Branded3

altoftThe biggest trend in SEO will be more brands taking advantage of engagement to drive rankings.

With most large brands struggling to be agile online it has taken a while for the market to really understand that audience engagement is now the biggest ranking factor. Savvy brands are moving away from running irrelevant campaigns just designed to get links and are focussed on campaigns that engage with customers either via content or digital PR and are seeing huge benefits.

By focussing every part of a campaign around the audience brands can drive SEO results and sales at the same time.

Alex Connock, Managing Director, Shine North

connockNext year will see Manchester further establish itself as an production centre for factual and drama TV shows which go straight into the global market without first transmission in the UK – for the major players such as Netflix, Discovery and Nat Geo.

This will see Manchester-produced shows visible in upwards of 100 countries in their first run and a major showcase for our collective production talents. Meanwhile, shoppable video producers will continue to grow very fast, using YouTube and other sites as a live, interactive platform to increase the real-time traction of scaleable online retailers in the region.

Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO, Savvy Marketing

shuttleworthConsumer confidence is improving and we’re already starting to see shoppers with more of a spring in their step.

That said, getting value communication right will be crucial for retailers. Shoppers continue to get savvier. Their knowledge of prices and the true value of products is astonishing. To seek out the best value shoppers are increasingly turning to technology – specifically their phones. We find in our research that shopper willingness and appetite to use their phones in-store to seek out relevant products and deals continues to rise rapidly, and a number of retailers have interesting initiatives in the pipeline for next year to meet this demand.

We’ve talked about seamless omni-channel for a number of years now in retail. 2015 is likely to be the year it starts to become a reality.

Jonathan Wall, Controller, Radio 5 live

wallThe big change in 2015 for audio (I say audio not radio because this means podcasts, and video clips of radio best bits, and short form clips) will be an even more dramatic change in how listeners access what they want, and how quickly programme makers can respond to that.

So how do radio stations do two things really well – maintain the big linear channels and communal experience of listening to live radio, but also give people a very personalised version of exactly what they want.

The success of The Serial podcast from the States, huge Radio 4 podcast numbers, fast growing numbers to 5 live’s new world of short form clips “5 live in short” show how fast things changed in 2014. Creative programme ideas remains key, but innovative ideas from teams at reaching mass audiences in new ways needs to be at the fore too.

I predict channels offering up a more personalised service within a year. Imagine a world where everyone in the country can effectively create their own radio station from their favourite presenters and choosing their favourite stories.

I predict a huge year for Radio 1 on YouTube, Radio 4’s online growth will speed up, and 5 live in short will also excel in 2015. And digital radio should see a boost in sales over Christmas to help the digital stations grow, and in a year’s time 75% of new cars will have digital radio offering up even greater choice on the dashboard.

Rob Morrice, CEO, Stein IAS

morriceWe’re likely to see much more technology integration take place under the CMO’s watch as brands build out ‘marketing clouds’ to centrally manage core functions, such as data, campaign automation, social, CRM and customer service. This will drive greater competition among the major technology vendors, like Oracle, Adobe and

So, we would expect 2015 to be the year of the app store war with marketers gravitating towards the platforms that offer the greatest choice of ‘plug and play’ tools.

Dave Sewards, CEO, Home

Dave Sewards - CEO @ Home3D printing? The big data v small data debate? Whatever Google decides it is? Before all this comes the need for true integration. Brands that aren’t joined up are going to get found out. But integration isn’t just taking an idea and throwing it out there. It’s about having an everywhere brand idea that stays true to its core theme but can adapt and change for each channel based on how the audience wants to consume messages in that specific channel.

There should be no dead ends. SEO should never again be a standalone brief. TV should drive a social idea and vice versa. VOD should be an interactive spin off. Common themes, different executions. That is true integration.

Daniel Nolan, MD, theEword

Dan Nolan

As the use of technology and consumption of digital media become ever-more embedded in people’s everyday lives, the amount of personal information gathered will continue to increase. This will feed into the growing trend of personalisation within online marketing, where advertisers show appropriate messaging to different groups based on their interests or previous behaviour.

In 2015, we will start to see greater levels of marketing personalisation and automation, as channels offer new ways for groups and even individuals to be identified and targeted. We might even see semantic technology playing a part, with advertising tailored around the sentiments expressed in people’s social media posts.

Chris Condron, General Manager, Product, Sport & Childrens, BBC

condronBBC Online celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014. Twenty years of firsts that have helped define digital media in the UK – from BBC News Online to BBC iPlayer and London 2012 – the first truly Digital Olympics. To date this has been largely about delivering a single experience to all users.

2015 will see the start of a new relationship with people –a more personal BBC, tailored to what they like, when they want it. We will have a two-way, closer, warmer relationship with our audiences – with people starting to think – not ‘the BBC’, but ‘my BBC, our BBC’.

Lou Cordwell, CEO, magneticNorth

cordwellWe’ve had some incredibly exciting announcements this year – firstly around Devolution and TechNorth and then swiftly followed by news in the Autumn Statement about the staggering investments planned for Science and Culture in Manchester.

All of which has helped to put Manchester well and truly in the spotlight for 2015 and will give rise to growing momentum in the City and the wider North, particularly in relation to the tech sector.

Rob Shaw, CEO, Epiphany

shawI think we will see more consolidation of services in 2015. The convergence of individual marketing channels continues and companies are starting to get a grip of multi-channel attribution understanding that many touch points contribute to a final conversion.

The agencies that can demonstrate that they have several strings to their bow and can demonstrate an overall payback will do well. Mobile first as a strategy (and mantra) will continue to take hold as companies can no longer afford to treat mobile as a bolt on to their digital strategy.

Jonathan Bowers, MD, UKFast

Jonathan-Bowers-and-Gail-Jones-UKFastIt’s very exciting in the technology industry right now, with wearable tech gaining traction and innovative software filtering through from consumer quarters into the workplace.

In 2015, businesses need better tools for organising their information and this is where some of the most exciting advancements will be made. Alternatives to communication platforms like email will help us to see the important messages through the noise, while software for managing our ‘big data’ opportunities will allow us to think more clearly and improve our business growth. And let’s hope the innovations we adopt are created right here in the UK. Best of British!

Jess Fowle, Creative Director, True North

Jess-1000pxIn 2015 the word on everyone’s lips will be ‘Diversity’. The great and the good can no longer deny TV is (still) a bit white, middle-class and Southern. Apparently ‘something has to be done’.

But why the fuss? There’s a wide audience out there eager to see themselves properly represented on screen and their kids working in the industry. Diversity makes business and creative sense – and it’s fair! As a Northern company we’ll be using this momentum to grow production talent who aren’t the usual suspects. It seems to us that diversity isn’t a problem to solve but an opportunity to grab.

Andy Holt, Creative Director, at Words&Pictures

Andy Holt, Creative Director, Words&PicturesCompanies will continue to need to communicate their strategy effectively, creatively and in increasingly innovative ways. As many build on this year’s fledgling growth, there will be a requirement to ramp up communications, significantly reinforcing the colleague commitment to, and delivery of, the strategy.

This will require increased focus on the ‘big conversation’, and finding fun and creative ways to involve colleagues, fire their imagination and let them discuss, share and contribute to the delivery of the strategy. The pressure will be on to provide a clear line of sight between the big idea and the colleagues’ role in delivering it.

Martin Boddy, CEO, Jaywing

boddy2015 will be the year of wearable tech. YouGov predicts by September 2015, 6.1 million people are likely to own one of the devices. They have been adopted by the technology enthusiasts for a couple of years already, but it’ll become mass market next year. The power of brand Apple and its iWatch launch in the spring is a major factor in this – they’ve made a device that’s functional and fashionable.

With this, 2015 will be the year of personalising messages across multiple devices. The challenge for marketers is to understand customer behaviours across these devices, and harness the power of the associated data.

Matt Bullas, CEO, Click Consult

bullasIn 2015, embracing digital convergence will be key for UK advertising. Start-up micro-social communities will explode in every facet of the web as social networks have become disruptive, less relevant and untrusted. Keeping messaging consistent will be increasingly hard as advertisers need to reach people in more places making the buying cycle further complex.

Native advertising will become more mainstream as content tailored to each micro channel and device will begin to out-perform ‘one-size fits all’ content. The average user now understands that the window to the internet is no longer the button on your desktop but that the internet exists behind any internet enabled device.

Micro-social platforms will bring the collaborative economy to the masses; diminishing the power of established brands, and specialist communities will compete commercially, by attracting consumer spend. SEO, Social & Content marketing will become more important as search engines strive for signals of trust, credibility & popularity when interpreting an increasingly crowded content landscape.

Anthony Hartley-Denton, MD, Mi

AHD head shotI think innovation with craft will be more important in 2015 as core disciplines merge even more. Game engine driven tech and Oculus is obviously coming of age and will become increasingly more prevalent but the core creative idea will still be key. There’s been a lot of style over substance recently and artists need to get back to basic ideas and avoid falling in love with the technology.

Technology is seductive and many companies are preoccupied with whether they could, they don’t stop to think whether they should. There’s also been a shift with clients approaching us direct and dispensing with superfluous intermediaries while allowing budgets to go further which we see continuing into next year.

Jason Madeley, Owner, Hatch Communications

Jason Madeley, Owner and Managing Director, Hatch CommunicationsPR will further claim its crown as the rightful owner of conversation, with successful campaigns being those that create a connection and relevance to their target audiences. I do think there will also be a reality check, as the media, influencers and the end consumer demand more and more authenticity and innovation.

The love for all things digital will of course continue at a pace, but brands will invest more in real consumer experiences and brand experiential activity. The explosion of social, particularly amongst the older generation, also means that PR has an opportunity to deliver cross generational activity to a great degree.

Lastly, I just have a hunch that the influence of the reality celebrity has reached its peak and although it’s here to stay, originality and tailored activity will certainly win the day in 2015.