With 2011 behind us, we thought it would be a good time to take a step back and reflect on the changes in the digital media and marketing industry over the last year. Here is our perspective on the recent trends and our future outlook in this sector:
1) Web analytics will become even more empowering for advertisers
Over the course of 2011, web analytics became smarter, richer, and more powerful through data management platforms (DMPs). Because of the high level of intelligence provided, data management technology has given rise to data-driven marketing strategies such as behavioral retargeting, allowing marketers to profile their audiences and serve them customized dynamic ads. Between 2010 and 2011, retargeting’s contribution to a site’s total revenue grew by 78%. End-to-end analytics, due to its ability to drive incremental value, are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Advertisers are now more equipped than ever to determine exactly what percentage of their online marketing dollars are driving offline sales. Such enhancements in web analytics will fuel greater growth of online marketing, and more and more advertisers will see the benefits of having big data at their fingertips to help them make marketing decisions.
2) Smartphones and tablets will continue undergoing explosive growth
In September 2010, the number of smart-phone users in the US was 58.7 million. In September 2011, this number grew by almost 50% to 87.4 million. Tablets are following suit – the number of tablet users rose by 159% between 2010 and 2011. The proliferation of these devices, which have features such as rich display screens, swipe touch, GPS etc., is resulting in the expansion of advertising inventory, options, and formats on these devices. Last year, Google launched new tablet ad formats which incorporate greater interactivity within ads. Advertising solutions on mobile and tablet devices are unique in that they are not just contextual but location-specific too, thanks to the explosive growth of the app market. This year, expect greater demand and supply for and supply of higher-quality, more relevant, and hyper-local mobile and tablet advertising.
3) Content on demand value chain – Internet TV and online radio will make a surge
Between 2010 and 2011, the average time spent watching online videos increased by 40% and the number of online videos watched grew by a hefty 800%. However, the opportunity brought about by this surge is still somewhat untapped by advertisers. For instance, last year, digital marketing was still largely regarded as a direct response channel. However, with changing media consumption habits, marketers will slowly move some of their branding budgets online. The same is true for audio streaming content, whose supply and demand have both increased, giving advertisers another channel to reach their target audiences effectively. In 2012, more advertising options will be available to marketers with an increase in ad spend in these channels.
4) Greater integration will happen within digital advertising
Last year, we saw some leaps towards integration in digital marketing across the board. Channel integration grew in importance as advertisers started to foray into multichannel marketing. There is an increasing demand for marketing campaigns to be integrated not only across online channels, but offline touch points such as in-store advertising and print marketing as well. Offline-online integration has been catalyzed by mobile devices. Customers are increasingly checking product features on their mobile phones while they’re shopping in a store and, at times, making the purchase online. The adoption of QR codes by marketers and mobile users alike, and the buzz around NFC, will also drive convergence between the online and offline worlds of consumers.
5) Social media advertising will gain maturity
Through 2011, social media sites have increased the options available to advertisers while attempting to measure brand engagement with greater accuracy. Facebook overhauled its “Insights” product to enable advertisers to capture better quality information on their target customers. This included adding a metric called “People Talking About This” to gauge user engagement with a brand, feeding into the maxim “content is king.” Brands with high “People Talking about This” ratings are the ones with the most compelling content. In addition to deeper analytics, Facebook introduced private messages between business pages and fans. Twitter is also enriching its offering to advertisers with its brand pages. And Google+ will be showcasing its unique Hangout ad format in the coming months. With the growing focus on social media marketing, more and more advertisers will incorporate a holistic social media strategy within their digital marketing initiatives this year, instead of keeping it on the sidelines as a nice-to-have.
These are certainly exciting times for the industry. We will keep a lookout for macro trends impacting the digital marketing arena as there is tremendous opportunity to stretch each marketing dollar even further.