Shaking Up the Future of Digital Marketing

We all know that the digital marketing arena, the environment in which we plan, buy, optimize, and measure media, is moving at a whirlwind speed. Thus, it’s worth stopping for a moment to reflect on what we in the digital marketing industry have learned in the first half of 2011 to ensure that the marketing dollar will get even more bang for its buck in the second half of the year. A few key focus areas that are shaking in the digital industry are usability and the continuing role of the media and technology companies in the marketplace.

Usability. It’s imperative that providers of ad-serving technology not lose sight of the importance of simplicity and ease of use as exciting innovations in functionality progress. The increasing adoption of smartphones, Internet TVs, iPads, tablets of all shapes and sizes, apps, and other technological novelties like 3D is forcing marketers to expand the scope of their digital campaigns and ad management for multi-platform and multi-channel engagement with consumers. Let’s not forgot why TV advertising has been so successful and still is. It’s simple. There are a handful of options to buy from and the measurement is standardized. But as we all know, digital is a whole different story, offering up enormous opportunities and complexities. Advertising technology companies that enable clients to leverage the opportunities with an intuitive and simplified manner will come out on top.

Additionally, it’s important for digital advertising companies to dedicate attention to partnering with top-notch companies that bring game-changing technologies to the field, in order to bring clients the most innovative opportunities. For example, companies like Media6Degrees are using social targeting for pre-roll video; and Mindset Media is using psychographic targeting to help marketers target users based on 21 personality traits that drive buyer behavior and brand choice across a broad range of consumer goods and services. (Disclosure: Mindset Media is a partner of my company.) That type of targeting enables publishers to deliver online users with the mindsets that matter to brands. There’s a myriad of ways of getting to the right customer at the right time by using innovative targeting technologies and methods. Consequently, ad tech companies need to not only continuously develop their proprietary next-generation ad management software, but also look to partner with best-of-breed partners to enhance their offerings, while still maintaining ease of use for clients.

While technology companies need to keep a finger on the pulse of advertiser’s needs, media alliances need to reassert themselves to continue to be recognized as an integral part of online advertising today and moving forward. While some may marginalize media network businesses, they continue to prove themselves with a key role in the market despite the raft of newcomers that have created an ever-changing complex landscape for marketers. A recent Wall Street Journal article titled, “Pulling Out Weeds Online” noted that as a result, media businesses are grouped together without acknowledging that there are a handful of companies that have a track record of having the expertise to keep the industry in a forward trajectory. While agencies are gravitating towards real-time bidding (RTB) and DSPs, media alliances still have their place as a “market maker.” There is still a need for media alliances within the ecosystem as a “market maker” (i.e., an intermediary that buys and sells, or represents). For example, direct response advertisers still want to run media with media and tech firms with proprietary technology because of their ability to provide enhanced services and use their data to provide measurable value.

As online usage and the number of sites and publishers continue to increase, the incentive for advertisers and agencies to move more of their ad spending online continues to grow with it and opportunities abound. Online ad spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $31.3 billion in 2011, a 20.2 percent growth over 2010 numbers, according to eMarketer. Companies in the ad technology and network space are integral to matching the advertiser with the right publisher profile to target the most relevant and appropriate audiences. Analytics, advanced targeting, and optimizations make delivering audience demographics more accurate and therefore more valuable. And, of course, the intermediary companies will be around to handle the sell-side of the business for both large and small online publishers. Let’s see what the second half of 2011 brings. Don’t blink or you might miss it.

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