The Fast-Paced Future

In the few days since I was invited to write this, Google+ went public, Facebook announced Timeline, Amazon debuted its tablet, Fire, and its cloud-based browser, Silk, and the IAB reported ad spending on the Internet grew by 23% in the first half of 2011 compared to last year. The pace and scale of change in media we are witnessing is difficult to fathom, much less summarize in a few hundred words, but let me highlight three important trends:

* More media fragmentation. How many ways can you watch your favorite TV show? Pirated, DVD, DVR, streaming, VOD, downloaded to mobile, tablet, and on and on. And, oh right, broadcast. The landscape of media is undergoing radical, frenetic change. And beyond an explosion of new technological channels for consuming professionally produced media, a sea-change is the increasing popularity (and competition for professional media makers) of amateur social content, such as blogs, Twitter, homemade YouTube videos, Facebook and so on. This trend will continue. A limited counterbalancing trend is media aggregation platforms, such Facebook, where people browse media from all those channels in one spot. But the main impact for marketers is more work required on the part of media buyers combined with more technology attempting to reaggregate audiences, such as advertising exchanges. Complexity reigns for the foreseeable future in targeting audiences for appropriate brand messages.

* More intelligent personalization. Facebook, FlipBoard and Amazon (both as a marketing and in the form of its new Silk browser) are all good examples of how media companies and marketers are harnessing knowledge about people's interests, based on algorithmic analysis of digital media and shopping data exhaust, to better customize unique and hyper-relevant experiences for media consumers. Expect this to continue. The next most powerful shift we should expect is services able to aggregated such data from across siloed data stores presently to improve knowledge of people's tastes across media and shopping experiences. Imagine a service that mashed-up everything Facebook knows about your tastes with everything Amazon does, plus your account info from NetFlix, iTunes, Pandora/Spotify/LastFM, Yelp, IMDB and so on. Rather than hoarding this knowledge in secret for use only in behavioral targeted advertising, a winning service will deliver this as a direct user experience, with superior recommendations for a range of consumer desires.

* Advertisers will become "ROI Managers," managing ROI against sales impact. Advertisers are only beginning to get the upper hand on the blizzard of data generated by all of the new media and marketing systems that drive consumers' lives today. Mostly those programs remain disconnected and reactive. Winning marketers of tomorrow will excel at changing their perspective on ROI from simple campaign measurement to iterative, integrated, cross-channel management. At the heart of succeeding in that transition will be spend-to-impact analysis across and among marketing programs, providing an equalized basis for evaluating the impact of every marketing investment from television to direct mail to billboards to search advertising to social media programs.

Rick E. Bruner, VP of Product, Marketing Evolution, Twitter: @MktgEvolution and @RickBruner

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