Crystal Ball Or Tea Leaves?

I do think one key element ties location-based, real-time and social media advertising together and that is data. Advertising, especially digital advertising, has always had a great deal of data with which to work.

And so, with the bells of Big Ben still ringing in my ears (via the television, do you think I am mad enough to have ventured into central London?) I’m back to follow up on yesterday’s predictions for digital advertising in 2010. Yesterday, I suggested money will come back in a fragmented way to digital media. Thus, there’s not enough money to pay for anything and as a result paywalls rise and, I suggested, that paywalls might actually lead to a rise in CPM rates for some publishers. Is it a crystal ball or in the tea leaves? I don’t know but here’s another vision ‘or two’ for the coming year.

And I don’t see why we should change the habit of a decade and so I may as well announce that 2010 will be the year that mobile advertising will become mainstream. You know, like it did last year. And the year before. I guess you could argue that 2009 was the year mobile Apps pointed us in a direction. My humble opinion is that mobile advertising will transform its brand into ‘location based advertising’ and the world will think it’s all new. Rather like a Marathon became Snickers. All new and yet reassuringly the same.

I think you can see this mobile re-brand trend already. But location based advertising should be big sometime. The company that gets mass adoption alongside location based mobile coupons (to come good on the “I’m passing the coffee shop give me 50p of a latte” idea) will be very successful. I’ve mentioned mobile coupons a few times in 2009 and I think the value of them is yet to be properly exploited.

Look, here’s a passing bandwagon. Let’s jump on. I think real-time is an interesting trend but digital advertising has always managed to exploit the more immediate nature of its existence (in comparison to offline media) so, apart from the introduction of some new trading methods and “perhaps” some new formats, real-time won’t impact advertising. Of course, if Twitter comes up with an advertising business model I may regret that statement but I don’t think it will be the real-time nature of Twitter that will form the basis of the ad model; it will be the Twitter communication platform itself.

However, Twitter & Facebook will transform digital advertising in 2010 even more than they did in 2009. New formats and new ways of engagement will be mean the both the banner/display and the text/search models will have something new to compete against. And if I knew what that “new” thing was, I would be busy reaping my rewards from that and not writing this.

Location-based advertising alongside social media engagement (Local Social, if you will) is really an emerging feature of the media landscape. I predict growth and innovation in that space this year. I’m not convinced we’re at the point Local Social will be mainstream but I am prepared for my friends from Local Social Lab to convince me otherwise (hopefully, over a tasty brew).

I do think one key element ties location-based, real-time and social media advertising together and that is data. Advertising, especially digital advertising, has always had a great deal of data with which to work. Audience measurement, action/reaction-based metrics, opinion and behavioural data often come into play. But I think we will see the rise of user-powered data in advertising by which I mean I, as a user of digital content, will actively share information with advertisers in a more open transaction in order to receive a service. I predict we will all take more control over what data we allow to be exploited and we will be more aware of who is benefiting. We will insist on greater transparency over data sharing but also will be more aware of what data sharing is allowing us to do. The trade off between sharing and getting something in return will become clear in the next twelve months.

There are challenges with using data. The online advertising industry has surrounded itself with data (click rates, acquisition rates, impressions, views, behavioural segmentation, hits, users, sessions etc. etc.) which did not align to “old” media. As a result, the industry spends more time explaining what it is talking about than anything else. That issue need to be addressed. Then I wonder if it’s possible to have too much data? As an industry we sold ourselves on that data as “the ultimate measurable medium” but perhaps we lost our creativity, our gut instinct and a lot of money while drowning in data. And then, of course, there’s security. If I am to share data I have to trust you with it and I am not convinced anybody trusts anybody else with their personal information which, I think, is the second digital dilemma I’ve presented to you in two days.

I am going to write my story of 2009 in personal data terms in the next few days but how the system to trade data will manifest itself will, to me, be one of the interesting stories of this year.

I’ve not written about the dramatic change to television viewing because of on-demand digital viewing (you’d have to be asleep to miss that change) and I haven’t talked about how the radio industry is imploding because it can’t agree on what a sensible route to digital actually is, but regardless, I think there is another interesting year ahead.

But until I tell you how many minutes I spent in a cinema in 2009 – or something similarly riveting with data – may I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter in the year as I track if any of these predictions have any validity at all.