It’s Time To Gaze Into The Future

Money will start to come back into advertising and that’ll make a lot of people feel better. However, the switch to digital advertising will continue, traditional media will remain at sea wondering what to do and how it’s all going to be paid for.

The world is awash with Christmas songs. But very few ever get around to singing about the New Year. Abba did it. And then there was that song from that Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, I’m sure it has something about it being a new year in the lyrics. I was wondering why there are so few new year songs and it occurred to me that between Christmas and the New Year everybody is busy predicting things and hasn’t the time to pen a song about how we’re all going to keep our resolutions until Tuesday.

And it is in that spirit that I am not writing a New Year’s tune but instead looking ahead to 2010 in Digital Advertising. I could, of course, have picked any topic but I thought one that I worked in might give me some credibility and, more importantly, means I can return to work on Monday morning with a plan for the year.

Let’s start with the predictable. There will be a storm in a teacup over use of cookies in Europe. And, of course, by the time everybody has agreed the technology will have moved on. Still, the industry will talk about it a lot and there’ll be pictures of biscuits (the chocolate chip variety) as the industry news sites run out of new ways to spin an old tale. Possibly a good excuse to hit the gym in January.

Almost as predictable is the second statement. Money will start to come back into advertising and that’ll make a lot of people feel better. However, the switch to digital advertising will continue, traditional media will remain at sea wondering what to do and how it’s all going to be paid for. And so-called paywalls will rise. I don’t think I need a crystal ball for this. I can smugly say that I previously said we had to stop thinking that advertising can pay for every thing; but smug is not a good way to enter into a new year so I’ll move on. A fragmented media market may be good for choice but diffused ad spending means nobody has any money to create anything. So, we as the consumer of content are going to have to start paying upfront for things.

It’s the last sentence that brings me to a digital age dilemma. If we’re going to have to start paying for content will we remain happy to consume advertising alongside it? Historically, we did in newspapers and in the cinema, for example. But we didn’t with books and don’t have our movie’s interrupted with advertising on the premium movie channels. I suspect newspapers in particular will hear a lot from users who won’t pay and download a banner style advertisement at the same time. There will be a fascinating follow-on impact for the advertising industry but I can’t read that from the cards.

As a quick aside I think there could be an interesting side story to the rise of required payments. For too long advertising rates, CPMs if you will, have been dropping and you have to believe it will come to a point where they can’t get any lower. I suspect the rise of paywalls for publishers which, if even vaguely successfully, will also force a rise in CPM rates (if the dilemma of the previous paragraph can be solved). The act of a customer paying for content proves the value of that content and suggests an engaged audience (and an audience with money). That must be an attractive place for advertisers to be.

And I think that’s enough crystal-ball gazing for today. Leave a comment if you think I’m right or wrong. Perhaps I will pen a ‘Happy New Year’ ditty while celebrating this evening or, more likely, I’ll have a glass of something sparkling and try to be in a state to finish my predictions tomorrow. One thing I can say with certainty, if I do write more tomorrow it will feature the word Twitter.

So look out for my Happy New Year tweet around midnight. So long 2009!

Author: jon

Jon Curnow writes on curnow.org about things that interest him. The site has been around for many years in various forms and he always wants to write much more here than he does.

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