Reading the Tea Leaves.

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As I was curled up last night with Forrester’s 5 year US Interactive Marketing Forecast, (sad commentary on my nightlife, I realize) it occurred to me that most people would end up fixating on the big numbers:  $77 billion in US Interactive Marketing Spending by 2011; 17% compound annual growth rate, and so on.  But obsessing about the overall spending scorecard can not only obscure the really important details and questions, but ultimately promote some sloppy strategizing.  So I thought I’d use this week’s post to call out a few of the more subtle details and the questions they provoke.

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The Shrinking Share of Search: Search related spending just about doubles from $18 billion to $33 billion in the next 5 years, but its share of total spend actually falls from 55% to 44%.  (In search, even bad news results in people getting richer!)  The conclusion Forrester draws is that marketers will focus more on “being found” in other forms of media. My conclusion? We all need to get even smarter about consumer behavior and start creating and intuitive, persistent place for marketers to live and transact within the consumer’s digital life.  Experiential Integration and Findabilty are two new watchwords.

The Amazing Expanding Marketer: Marketers are reportedly going to grow their interactive teams considerably in the coming five years.  More boots on the ground, more opportunity to look beyond the shapes and colors approach to digital many have taken up to now.  My conclusion? All those new people are going to drive digital thinking more deeply than ever into everything the marketer does.  If the expertise and focus of publishers and agencies remains stuck on “more and better advertising,” we lose.  Like it or not, advertising is occupying less and less of the marketer’s imagination every day.

Long Term Thinking, Anyone? According to Forrester, “Marketers will invest more in interactive channels because they believe they will generate better results over time.”  Could it be that the obsession with short term results and click-based attribution could be starting to crack?  Could concepts like frequency, persistence and presence be coming into their own?  My conclusion? Yes, they could.  But as William Gibson famously wrote, “The future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.”  I think the media buying world will lag far behind the marketers in reaching these conclusions.  And media sellers who rely on media buyers for all their information and perspective will lag further still.  The “industry” will remain focused on the broken, short term media buying model long after it’s played out.  The enlightened few will align with marketers today and chase the puck to where it’s going, rather than where it is right now.

What do you think is significant in the Forrester report?  And what conclusions do you draw about the changes we either do or don’t need to make in our monetization strategies?

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