Because it's so vast, and because it encompasses so many different aspects of work and home life, the cloud has appropriated a place of power in our world that won't be vanquished.
Recently, U.K.-based special interest content publisher Raconteur Media released an interesting news report called "Cloud for Business." Through a series of articles the report endeavored to shed some light on the phenomenon that is cloud computing, and explain how it can be leveraged for business. Experts call the cloud part of the "digital revolution." It's praised for its scalability, its usefulness in improving productivity for those working off-site, even for helping companies reduce their carbon footprint.
When we think of "the cloud," it's data storage that most often comes to mind. We might go so far as to envision shared development environments, or collective infrastructure solutions. But cloud computing goes beyond all of that to incorporate social media. The cloud allows consumers to access social content whenever and wherever they like, rather than having to get to a downloaded program on a desktop computer. For marketers and advertisers, it affords the ability to outsource necessary services and assemble data in a way that keeps campaigns current and consistent. Think about it: Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs - they all rely on the cloud, falling under the category of SaaS, or software as a service. And they're all something that most brands can no longer live without.
Cloud computing relates to display advertising, too. When media buyers make their buys through automated systems, they're working within the cloud. When we store campaign briefs online for cross-department collaboration, we're cloud computing. And the fact that we're increasingly relying on the cloud for our work speaks volumes about its impact on digital media. GigaOM's recent survey about the "Future of Cloud Computing" found that while file sharing and business productivity remain the most popular cloud applications, CRM and marketing, along with social business and collaboration, are on the rise. Security concerns may persist, but so too will the advantages of this growing movement to marketers.
It's more than just a trend: the cloud is changing everything. Google the word and it isn't meteorological references that you'll find, not now that new developments in cloud computing are coming fast. Earlier this month, HP-owned global software company Autonomy launched Autonomy Marketing Cloud, a cloud-based platform that allows businesses to optimize their marketing efforts and manage everything from rich media creative to augmented reality experiences. In June, IBM revealed a cloud-based analytics solution designed in part for chief marketing officers and "social media gurus."
Meanwhile, Hearst TV stations are delivering all of their national advertising through a cloud-based system, with local ads to follow suit. In digital radio, listeners are now getting targeted in-stream audio ads through a cloud-based ad insertion system that comes courtesy of Abacast and is being used by companies like ESPN Radio.
Research firm Gartner reports that cloud-based advertising is one of the fastest-growing segments of the cloud market. This includes ad exchanges, auctions, and real-time bidding platforms, and leading the charge is Google with its paid search ads. According to Gartner, revenue from cloud-based advertising will comprise 45 percent of all cloud revenue by 2016. By that time, worldwide cloud-based ad revenue is expected to top $94 billion.
Because it's so vast, and because it encompasses so many different aspects of work and home life, the cloud has appropriated a place of power in our world that won't - and can't - be vanquished. Tech trends will come and go, but in this age of digital media, the cloud will remain. As such, it's critical that we understand how to use it and how it can serve our clients and our campaigns. Behavioral data, usage reports - all of this will prove to be invaluable as we grow more dependent on this "nebulous" system and move deeper into the cloud.
Make no mistake about it: we will.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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