4 Technologies and Trends Online Marketers Need to Know

One constant in online advertising is change.

Change makes good online marketers so valuable. It’s not that tried-and-true tactics like e-mail, search, and well-run display campaigns have stopped working – it’s that to really stay ahead in this game you have to be agile and understand and apply newer technologies and activities to your craft.

A good online marketer can name dozens of ways to advertise online and write a book the little details required to make them work. The pace of change and myriad of options is evolving faster than ever before, as delivery mechanisms for digital content and advertising increase. The level of professional education one must apply to their career is huge and many don’t have the energy to truly keep pace. But if you love this field, as I do, learning about new technologies and how they integrate with both online and offline marketing is a labor of love – more pleasure than chore. (I mean, heck – we’re not talking financial compliance law. We’re talking about things like social media, mobile devices, and Web/TV integration – cool stuff that’s fun to play with!)

So, to help you in this process, I thought I would share a few areas where I am seeing rapid change and consumer adoption. While I’m sure there is more going on than what I’m listing, the following items are a good bullet-list of things to have on your radar, if they are not already there, and to dig deep on every day of your professional life.

Social media. No kidding, right? Everyone is already talking about it and I am sure you don’t need me telling you to get to know it. But the pace of change in social media is still rapid and the advertising and targeting opportunities are ever-changing. Social isn’t just about likes, fans, and followers, it’s about the social enablement of ads, content, and targeting. It’s about turning one impression or click into many viral peer-to-peer impressions and clicks. The thing I want you to dig deep on is how is social weaving into things you are already doing? Start your journey by understanding chiclets with my column “Socializing Your Banners With Chiclets.” You’ll see that I am talking about more than just buying a bunch of ads on Facebook.

Mobile. Again, no breaking news here. But do you really understand the world of location and behavioral-based opportunities? Do you understand how mobile commerce and transaction will integrate with existing online and traditional media? Will people click on AdWords and banners on a 3- or 4-inch screen? What does it mean for everyone to be running around with direct response, e-mail, GPS, and Web-enabled devices in their pockets? How will this enhance the marketing we already do? What new opportunities does mobile present? Will the mobile Web kill marketing on the desktop as the percentage of people accessing the mobile Web grow? How will mobile impact our online profiles and behavioral targeting? Answer that question by reading my column about Facebook blending your geo-location data and behavior with consumer profiles.

Web TV and interactive TV. This is huge, and people still don’t even know it. Why this doesn’t get the buzz that social and mobile get, I do not know. Quietly, and almost unannounced, people started surfing Web content on their televisions via their cable guides and didn’t even know that the Web had come to the big screens in their living rooms. Your Comcast or Verizon remote control is now a fully-functioning mouse, and whether you realize it or not the television and Web are integrated and in millions of homes right now. Google and Apple are forging ahead more aggressively than ever with Web TV. I personally cannot wait for this to take hold in a big way. Want to get your head around interactive TV? Start with my column, “Interactive TV Ads: Real-Life Examples.”

Ad exchanges. Like the trends above, these have been around for a while, but do you really understand what they are and the opportunities they offer? Sure, you may not be getting premium inventory off the ad exchanges, but you will get volume, and low CPM volume can be a good thing when you have a transactional metric like cost per lead or sale in your reports. Like ad networks, ad exchanges allow you to round out the high-transaction costs you might incur with more premium placements with lower-cost transactions. What makes ad exchanges different is your ability to bid on inventory, thereby naming your price, and in some cases rejecting certain placements you have historical data on if you use technologies like Adnetik. So, with ad exchanges your online presence can enjoy premium placements for branding and low-cost placements for transactions. (Of course, if you are a direct play you can also skip the premium high-cost stuff and just go for low-cost performing placements.) For an introduction to ad exchanges, check out “Pros and Cons of Ad Exchanges.”

I realize I am listing things you may know about – my challenge to you is do you really know them? Have you dug deep into real life examples of how these things work? The reality is much of the things you do online right now with display and search marketing might not need to touch any of these items – but how long will that last? Please comment below with other new things people should be getting to know more intimately.

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