Digital Advertising Predictions 2012

To be clear, I’m not doing the Mystic Meg references this year. If she couldn’t see the demise of her paymaster then what hope does she have to see digital advertising’s future?

So, I shall also get all clairvoyance references out of the way right at the start as I look into my crystal ball to read the 2012 cards. Or something like that. Yet I still hear the voices from beyond telling me that, in the UK, digital advertising will continue to grow; by which I mean it will take a larger share of all advertising and generate more money for businesses supported by digital advertising (I’ll find some numbers to prove that in a year from now). Given the state of many European economies, I’d be foolish to try to predict where the money will come from but I’d wager it’ll mainly be a shuffling of existing advertising monies rather than new cash.

Perhaps my references should be topical and sporting this year, with the 2012 games happening right here in London in the summer. Even at the kick-off of the year (see what I did?), they’re calling them the first digital Olympics. While we’re going to see a lift in advertising revenues caused by the impact of the games, the powers-that-be guard any use of the Olympic logos closely and only authorised brands can use it in advertising messages, which, I think, will mean the lift will be smaller than some might expect.

I’d be interested to see how the brands not partnering with the games get their messages out in 2012.

I am surprised not to see any of the big European mobile telephone brands on the 2012 official partner list. While we’ve all long-since given up on calling this – or any year – the year of mobile advertising, it could be the year mobile payments come of age (that is, of course, if anybody can get their phone to work in London during the months of the games). Paying for things, using your phone as the debit card, certainly appeals to the gadget geek in me. And, I really think that the introduction of mobile payments will have a positive knock-on effect on mobile advertising.

I’m also pretty confident that we’re going to see more and more “buzz” around television-companion apps. These apps primarily run on mobile-type devices but enhance, in some way, your big-screen viewing. The “enhancement” currently appears to mainly allow you to interact with others who are watching the same programme via Twitter or Facebook, or play along with a version of the game-show you are watching. This additional screen provides both a whole new place for advertisers and the prospect of some interesting battles for control of ad-messages there. How anybody will determine which ad you saw, the one on the television or the one on the app, will be an interesting technical and data challenge this year.

And that segues nicely into a prediction that picks up on a tipping point I missed from last year’s list (but at least acknowledged in my Report Card). We know that non-broadcast video, the kind that doesn’t make it on to a television via a traditional broadcaster, commands a large viewership and I think more and more brands, who are getting increasingly comfortable in social media environments, will spend money there. There’s a chance the wall-to-wall sporting coverage this summer will drive people to YouTube and the like. Of course, that’s also a big opportunity for video-on-demand services with the rights to more traditional programming. A bumper year for those is also on the cards (sorry, I had to get one more reference in) with increased ad loads (that’s a term I learnt in 2011 to mean “more ads”) and possibly the wider adoption of ad-selection opportunities, where the user chooses which advertisement to watch, as demonstrated by the Hulu service in America. We’ll see more and more of that here.