For a couple of years I have written my predictions for the twelve months ahead in digital advertising. Everybody’s at it and, of course, nobody takes it too seriously. “I’ll predict they’re all wrong”, one of my colleagues amsuingly suggested last week but, of course, it’s him that’s wrong. Almost nobody fails with these “predictions” because – like the best clairvoyant – we can’t predict the big stuff & we’re all looking for the trends which will get a little bigger or smaller. So, even with our ears to the ground, we’re vauge and can hang our hat on almost anything to prove we were right. Let’s face it, if anybody could have predicted the rise of Facebook or – insert any shining tech starlet here – we wouldn’t be making lousy predictions on the web, would we?
While I readily admit to following the pack and, probably, highlighting the trends everybody else is seeing, I do always start by reviewing last year’s “predictions” so see how far off reality my senses were. So, albeit a few weeks into the new year, I’m starting with a review of my 2011 predictions.
I began with “increased data usage in advertising targeting”. Of course this is probably impossible to prove either way. Publishers are certainly more confident in their data conversations but who knows if it’s really being used? Given Amazon registered a patent suggesting an ability to understand more about you based on your choice of wrapping paper I think we can safely say we have not come to the end of this trend. As for anybody falling foul of the data comissioners, well Facebook seemed to do the opposite and get a good grade from Europe. Not a bad result on that one but nothing amazingly forseen.
Last year I called my second prediction “The Cloak Of Transparency” and I think this is one that didn’t (but should have) come true. Being more accessible with explanations of data usage can only be a good thing. I am, however, releived that we are not bombarded with opt-in/out boxes at every online interaction. My prediction about this was off but somebody will meet the need soon, I’m certain. My favourite article on the subject in 2011 was by Kevin Curtin who encouraged somebody (maybe, everbybody) to sell his data. As for my point about data validation services, did I miss any?
Did digital advertising grow in 2011? I think we really need to wait a while to get the numbers in, don’t you? But if Hearst Digital can report that their “U.S. digital media businesses were solidly profitable for the first time” [source] I think I am onto a winner with that one. Since 2000 digital advertising has “has leapfrogged every traditional advertising vehicle except television” suggested The Chicago Tribune, which must be a good sign. Back in October, the IAB reported UK internet advertising expenditure growing 13.5% to £2.256 billion in the first half of 2011. The cards are looking good for that one. And take a look at some of the excellent creative you may have missed in 2011. That one came true and, in an uncertain economy, I’ll happily take credit for being right on that.
Also back in October, an Econsultancy/Rubicon Project report suggested 44% of publishers were then selling their online display inventory via real-time bidding (handy if you’re in RTB, huh?). I’m using RTB as a proxy for the traded environment here, as I can’t find any stats talking more generally about trading. Without a doubt, there were even more ways to sell inventory on offer to publishers last year and, therefore, businesses need to understand the trading environment better. With 30 billion UK RTB-traded impressions seen during last year’s European RTB Insight Report, somebody ought to be making sure the money’s right. Of course, publisher’s might want to put analysts on managing their direct sold campaigns, which was a suggestion repeated a number of times in 2011.
But where was the exodus from the City to digital that I suggested might happen? Perhaps that prediction failed because the City bonus culture didn’t.
My final prediction last year was about advertising and social media. How could I fail with this one? Twitter claims 60 billion tweets in 2011 and the most re-tweeted was from a commercial organisation: the Wendy’s hamburger brand. There’s a long way to go here but Twitter did introduce an advertising play in 2011 and it will only grow in 2012. Groupon, the couponing site that IPO’d (can I say it like that?) last year, earned an average return of 6,352% for private investors and generated top line growth of 700% in the nine months ending Sept 30 2011 (year over year) [source]: impressive sounding numbers, if nothing else. So, I think my suggestions that coupon sites would still be strong came true. While new Daily Deal sites came – and some disappeared – in 2011, there is more to come from this sector I’d wager. Last year I didn’t say much about video; I think it’s a given that it’s now part of the online/digital mix. But online video continues to grow as a viable advertising medium, and not just with long form content. This year charlieissocoollike became the first UK channel to reach one million subscribers which suggests a continually growing audience for well-produced, non-broadcast video content. YouTube counts as social media, right? Oh good. Tick, then.
Of course you can never go wrong saying that there will be a “raft of technology announcements” in the coming year, I don’t think that was wrong. I may even use that again for my 2012 predictions which will be with you soon enough.
So, there we go. I think I identified the trends well enough and, while these predictions aren’t going to make anybody rich, they weren’t awful.
Let’s see what the crystal ball thinks we’ll do in 2012.