So it looks like my crystal ball was working pretty well last year at this time. Of course, that was before energy shortages, Enron bankruptcies, and the events of September 11th, which, unlike the much chain-lettered 16th century seer, I did not predict.
First, a quick review of the record.
YEAR 2001 PREDICTION SURVEY
Okay, I predicted those would take off in 2000. I was wrong. It was 2001 that sessions finally got their due. I'd stated that "time spent with a particular vehicle will become more significant because advertisers will want to know what the likelihood of the audience's seeing their advertisement will be." Though the motive for session-based advertising seriously launched by NYTimes.com this last year may not be borne of advertisers interested in duration, but the session finally made it to the dance.
Cross-media Platform Packaging
Though I was right that we would see more of these, they still pretty much suck. Sorry to use such base language, but cross-media platform packages are still rare, and, from what I've heard, not very well executed. Nike did some nice things with ESPN using iTV during the X-Games, and certainly there are ads running in broadcast and other media that refer an audience to the web. But very little has been done that is very innovative. AOL Time Warner, though improving in how they do business with agencies, still isn't terribly well integrated when it comes to creative uses of their properties for clients. Though ABC has done some interesting stuff with the Millionaire show in the past, for most media companies, it is still just throwing ads into various media holdings and letting it be at that.
"Awareness" Becomes a Compelling Reason to Advertise
Yep. It's true. Along with much of the industry, I'd been clamoring for research of the type other media have produced. It happened. Companies like Dynamci Logic and Millward Brown brought us more compelling research to prove to the world at large that, indeed, the web could be used as something other than a direct response ad vehicle. With studies done by DoubleClick, MSN, C|Net, the IAB and others (mostly with the help of those research companies mentions above), some definitive evidence was finally at hand. Now, more traditional media companies advertise on the web than ever before, and they aren't just running "click here" banners.
We Will Learn the Difference Between Branding and Awareness
This is simply never going to happen. As a rule, most of us aren't terribly precise with our language anyway. But also, if you asked 20 top marketers, media directors, or advertisers what branding was, you'd likely get 20 different answers anyway.
RICH MEDIA PRIMACY
Well, this sort of happened. There are, indeed, more folks accessing the web from high-speed connections – Fall 2001 at-home broadband penetration sat around 9%. And there are, certainly, more interesting ad formats that utilize fancier technologies. But until there can be some form of standardization, or more publishers and developers do a better job of testing the technologies before they make their way in front of consumers, the advertising will remain largely boring banners.
TRADITIONAL ADVERTISERS GET ON BOARD
They did. Though they hardly took up the slack from dead and dying dotcom advertisers, companies like Ford, Pizza Hut, AT&T and BMW not only established a significant presence online, but they did it in a new and exciting way that the entire industry should note and follow their example.
So, what does this year hold? Here are my predictions in brief.
GRPs, GRPs, GRPs
As agencies like TribalDDB and Mediasmith start looking at their media in terms of GRPs and finding ways to put their online campaigns in terms that make sense along side their offline campaigns, sites will start finding ways to package inventory this way. I've been told that Yahoo! has done this before. More major sites with too many impressions are to follow.
Branding Efficiency Metrics
Now that the technology is there, and research has been done to prove the medium capable of branding, marketers using the interactive space will start applying direct response measures for success to branding efforts. Advertisers will want to know how much it cost to "raise awareness" or improve attitude towards a brand and optimize their media accordingly. Perhaps there will be a sort of "cost per awareness point" metric?
Yahoo! Gets Bought by a
traditional media company
Let's face it. The day of the multi-year, zillion-dollar deals are over (unless you are AOL Time Warner). Without holdings aside from web presences, Yahoo! will either need to diversify or be absorbed. Unless Yahoo! can be the ONLY place advertisers spend their online dollars, they are going to have to figure something else out. And just buying more websites, like HotJobs.com, bounty on leads to merchants in the shopping section, or trying the ISP thing again with SBC like they did years ago with MCI, simply isn't going to be enough. Though CEO Terry Semel is working hard at diversifying Yahoo! while at the same time simplifying their operations, classifieds and paid listings alone aren't enough to make Yahoo! grow.
Interactive Media Sales
Folks Start Speaking Traditional Media-ese
It's just not going to be possible for Internet sales people to do their jobs without knowing something about traditional media. As more and more traditional advertisers make their way to the web, it is going to become essential in ways it wasn't before for online sales guys to know how the medium they are selling fits in with other media. Traditional media research, metrics, and planning methods are going to become, if not the lingua franca of online advertising, certainly the tongue will be preferred throughout the provinces.
See ya in the funny papers!