A Simple Prediction For 2010

My prediction for the coming year is... conservative and rooted in performance for CPG brands.

This is the time of year when we tend to look inward,  understanding how we performed in the previous 12 months and determining our course of action for attacking the coming twelve and achieving success.  This past year was a rough one, to say the least, but it was also an amazingly fulfilling one. 

On a personal level, I got married and had a son: two of the most fulfilling experiences that anyone can ever have.  On a professional level, our business has continued to grow in the face of adversity, while the world around me has witnessed one of the most difficult economic periods of the last 80+ years.  

I have friends who are out of work and I have colleagues who are fighting hard to make ends meet.  I've learned a lot about the inner workings of different kinds of businesses -- and I've decided that making predictions in a climate which is so tenuous and conservative could be a futile effort.



That being said, I have a sole prediction to make.

This coming year will continue to be a conservative one, with many companies focused on -- and trying to prove -- what they do best.  This brings me to the single prediction I will make, which comes a result of introspection and years of experience in digital marketing.  I predict that next  year,  someone will finally bring a product to market that can prove the effect of online marketing on CPG purchases (awareness, consideration and intent) by measuring customer and/or shopper-card data. This will  lead to a renewed renaissance in online advertising, bringing it to the top position of paid advertising (ahead of television) within eight years.

There are a number of companies that are doing wonderful things with data: tracking shopper card data, taking social media data, tying into credit card data and purchase behavior from other outside resources.  Some companies can tell you if the online ads you ran drove incremental sales against new customers, or drove incremental sales frequency among existing customers -- but only for a limited set of customers and placements. 

All of these efforts are getting us closer to the holy grail of understanding the effects (in real time) of online exposure to actual sales and applying these across the digital media mix.  Many of these companies are focused on banner and display advertising, but once these methodologies are worked out, they could and should be applied to social media, mobile, search and video efforts.

The methodology is there: track exposure and interaction through anonymous cookie data and match it to loyalty cards, shopper cards and Nielsen Homescan data on a non-personally identifiable basis to create a viable data set that proves the correlation between exposure and sales.  These are typically on a finite, niche level right now, but I sense that someone in 2010 will bring to market a viable, scalable solution for this across the industry.  Of course this assumption is based on the current environment of government regulation, but if the government moves ahead with regulating online advertising, then all of these companies get thrown right out the window, and my prediction goes to the wolves.

The silver bullet will be for a data solution to tell me what effect my digital media mix had on sales by tracking post-purchase data.  If you, as a partner, can tell me with a 95% confidence level what impact I had on sales, you will get my budget.  If you can tell me, isolating offline and online activity, what lift my online dollars drove, you will be in the driver's seat -- and you will get the lion's share of my budget.

Many people are promising this data, with a race to the finish line clearly in sight. I feel that 2010 will be the year, because in the last three months I've met with a number of companies, many of which are eerily close to the solution, with eyes on the final outcome.

Data is the name of the game, and using that data from an analytics perspective is the first place to look, while optimization is the second place.  That is my prediction, because if this prediction comes true, then all other media will be playing catch-up.  If this prediction comes true, then dollars will flow into online from other media, at least until we achieve the proper media mix to work with.

I know that each of you will have different predictions, but what do you think about this one?  Do you agree or do you think I'm nuts?  Please let me know -- comment on the Spin Board and share with me what you think!

3 comments about "A Simple Prediction For 2010 ".
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  1. Andy Atherton from, November 18, 2009 at 12:08 p.m.

    Great post Cory. I'm very glad you're interested in this area. is a leader in proving the offline sales impact of online spend. We have delivered strong, proven ROI results on web-wide campaigns for some of the biggest CPG brands on the planet ( These were not niche studies. The average campaign size measured was >$250K, running across dozens of sites.

    So offers the viable, scalable solution you envisions to tie online ad exposure to offline sales ( We offer it today and have proven that it works.

    I will give you a call later this morning.

  2. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, November 18, 2009 at 12:27 p.m.

    I agree wholeheartedly that online will outpace TV, perhaps in fewer than the eight years that you suggest. Unfortunately what I expect is that it won't be due to an increase in ad pricing online, but rather to a collapse of TV ad rates as tracking is improved and their almost total lack of ROI for a sustainable ecosystem of advertisers becomes clear. They are massively expensive unclickable banners that most people who actually watch TV don't even see; Tradition and fuzzy data are all that maintain the rates today and this is going to erode on a catastrophic scale in the next five years.

    The collapse of advertising on TV will cause the collapse of programming content as well - we already see the first signs of this coming apocalypse. What I don't have a vision for is what we'll be left with. People demand information and entertainment, and they want it for free, or at least perceived as free - this has already overturned the Newspaper and Music industries fundamentally. And Television may be the next to wind up in the maw. Certainly if this comes to pass it will have the largest cultural effect, as content is vastly more expensive to produce, but cheap web content doesn't have the buy-in of critical mass either. And running TV ads on Youtube videos isn't the way of the future.

  3. Katie Smillie from, November 18, 2009 at 1:53 p.m.

    Great thoughts Cory. Definitely agree that online ads have the potential to eclipse all other forms of advertising, the question is when and I like your bold prediction of 8 years. As this shift happens I think we are also going to see online ads evolve to leverage more and more real-time data (not only in tracking performance as you mentioned) but also in giving feedback to the ads themselves so that they learn from users, automatically becoming more targeted and more relevant to each consumer. At we believe that the key to this is lies specifically in social data, and our vision is that in the future all ads will be social.

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