Commentary

The Year Ahead -- From Those Smarter Than Me

The only fun that was to be derived from predictions for 2011 was that according to the Great Cycle of the Ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar, we would have only had another year to live, love and buy at the lowest CPM. But the spineless Guatemalans have backed off, saying that on Doomsday, Dec. 21, 2012: "The world will not end. It will be transformed... Everything will change... Change is accelerating now, and it will continue to accelerate... If the people of the earth can get to this 2012 date in good shape, without having destroyed too much of the Earth, we will rise to a new, higher level."

Geez -- sounds more like the art vs. science debate in advertising than skyscrapers tumbling, highways splitting open and giant waves washing over Manhattan (something that might actually help the snow removal). But fear not, because I have continued the much-anticipated tradition of asking some of my clients (well, all of them really -- but only a few actually put out) what they think the big trends will be this year. And here they are:

Atul Patel, CEO, OneScreen Inc.: "In 2011, digital video advertising will hit an all-time high and will continue to fuel the business potential of online video. Every company in the digital media ecosystem, ranging from magazines and newspapers to niche bloggers, will contend for these dollars. Content creators and aggregators will focus less on building their own audience, while publishers and publisher and ad networks will steer away from producing videos themselves. Instead they will make more effort to work together through syndication and revenue agreements, and will leverage partnerships with adaptable technology companies. Devices such as connected televisions and Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and streaming players will begin to play a minor role in digital video consumption; advertising capabilities on these devices will lag behind, limiting the flow of advertising budgets to that distribution method."

Cameron Yuill, founder and CEO, AdGent Digital: "Publisher woes accelerate rapidly; this is the year that they fall off the cliff. If you didn't get an iPad or tablet this Christmas, you will buy one this year. And when you do, your reading habits will change dramatically, forever. You will never buy a book, magazine or newspaper again -- the paper version, that is. For publishers, this is a fundamental shift in distribution that they cannot control and will struggle to adapt to. The biggest danger facing publishers is that advertisers will buy ad space on tablets like they buy ad space on the Web -- that's a shift from $80 CPM for the paper version to a $10 CPM for the digital version. In addition, publishers will no longer be able to hide behind the 'audited' circulation numbers that drive their legacy businesses. And finally, publishers will be forced to share any subscription revenue with Apple and the other distribution gateways. It's a triple whammy that many kamikaze publisher pilots won't be able to handle -- it's too late to turn around and their fate is sealed. On the other hand, for the smarter, more flexible, ready-to-radically-change-the-cost-structure-of-the-business publishers, it will be the dawn of a new publishing age."

Paul Cook, CEO,TagMan: "Companies will be forced to allow consumers to opt out at a 'tag level' in response to new EU privacy legislation and others. There will be a wider uptake of attribution reporting/understanding, as dollars move away from brand-paid search terms toward organic search display retargeting/extension. Agnostic boutique agencies will win back direct-to-vendor dollars and handle more supplier review processes/paperwork/analysis etc. Finally, Terry Kawaja will release a Monopoly Board which morphs into a DSP."

Ben Kartzman, CEO, Spongecell: "Dynamic messaging in ads will become even more prevalent. With all the promise in 2010 around multi-variant testing of ads yielding better performance, companies learned that finding the right balance between retargeting, dynamic content and speed to execution are what will drive them in 2011. Video distribution will move beyond pre- and post-roll.  Video advertisements will become much more widespread in standard placements typically reserved for static or flash ads. Retargeting is hot and getting hotter. Retargeting will advance from people clicking on a product and being followed by the same product. It will become smarter by measuring what consumers engage with, rather than what Web sites they visit and what products they click on." 

Jon Werther, chief revenue officer, Simulmedia: "Domestic television advertising revenue will experience solid growth, and over-the-top television will not lead to the dramatic levels of 'cord cutting' that many expect.  Smarter device proliferation and greater audience fragmentation, together with growth in time spent watching TV, will lead to increased inventory and data supply -- accelerating the use of Internet-like technology, measurement and business models to deliver 'smarter' ads on television. Innovative television marketers will capitalize upon data-driven, target audience aggregation to more effectively and efficiently reach consumers, marrying TV's unparalleled reach and impact with Web-like targeting and measurement."  

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