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At about this time every year, media strategists start to contemplate what the fast approaching New Year might bring. There’s always endless speculation about which trends will continue, and which mediums will finally gain the traction they’ve long been promising. This year is no exception. Talk to 10 of your peers and you’re likely to get 10 different opinions on what will be big in 2010, but you can be certain they’ll all incorporate at least a few of the following digital media predictions.
Prepare to Make a Date with Data
Data ownership and retention, and the value of audience data to both advertisers and publishers, was a hot topic in 2009. So, it will continue to be in the next. As companies like BlueKai and eXelate actively partner with publishers to collect user data from their sites and sell it through their data marketplaces, marketers can gain greater insight into the Internet users they’re trying to reach.
When working with an individual site, you typically get limited user information: the kind that relates specifically to how the sites’ visitors interact with them and their products and services. Data exchanges, however, pull demographic and behavioral data on those same consumers from many more sites to fill in the blanks and create a more complete user profile. Particularly given the increased importance of making every ad dollar deliver, such improved targeting capabilities are sure to become an even more desirable commodity among planners and buyers in 2010.
Opportunities With Mobile Apps
As advertisers find success in creating mobile applications for iPhones, BlackBerry models, and other makes of smartphones, more marketers will be trying their hand at this direct line of consumer communication. It’s a useful way to distribute branded content that can be easily integrated into an overall digital advertising strategy.
The more prominent trend, however, may be advertising on these apps. Publishers are reporting an increased interest in this form of mobile advertising, and are increasingly partnering with companies like Rich Media and mobile advertising and analytics platform, Medialets to facilitate app ads. Medialets places adaptable ad tags on existing publisher apps that don’t require an up-front commitment to a specific type of advertising. Once a publisher’s iPhone app is approved for distribution, the placement of the ads can be controlled remotely, allowing the publisher and advertiser to not only swap out ads for different campaigns, but also vary the ad formats themselves.
Tags can even be placed on behalf of ad networks, such that buyers can supplement their mobile advertising campaign with a network buy. The result is a flexible approach to mobile advertising that provides access to a popular branded app, along with the on-demand delivery of proven ad units.
New Ad Sizes and Formats
This year saw the introduction of the Online Publishers Association’s (OPA) larger display ad formats, designed to promote creativity among advertisers and encourage Internet users to actively share ads, as they would site content. Major brands like Mercedes-Benz, Frito-Lay, and Bank of America have already experimented with the ads, and we can expect others to follow suit.
In addition to more prominent ad sizes, watch for ad formats to deliver more in-depth product information. Product preview and inventory data-based banners, for example, are allowing consumers to view entire product lines within the confines of a display ad, and check inventory levels to determine whether their desired vehicle, pair of jeans, or swimsuit is available for purchase or sold out. Such banners are well positioned to lead to impromptu purchases, as users unexpectedly find themselves shopping online before even making their way to the advertiser’s online store.
Standardization in Media Buying
The request for proposal (RFP) process is frequently a thorn in the media buyers’ side; many times, digital marketers have wished for a more standardized process that would simplify and speed up the exchange of information between agency and site publisher. Digital advertising management platforms from such companies as Traffiq, can deliver this by eliminating many of the inefficiencies of conducting the RFP process offline. The idea is to instead take the RFP process to the Web, with agencies creating and posting their RFPs directly to targeted publishers, and managing the response process more effectively. Look for more of this in large and boutique agencies in the months to come.
The year ahead promises to be an exciting one: there will be bigger and bolder efforts from digital marketers, and an evolving relationship between advertisers and consumers. What trends do you predict for 2010? Don’t forget to share your point of view below.
This column was originally published Nov. 19, 2009.