Where Digital Marketing Is Heading in 2010 (Part Two)

Millward Brown Looks at the Social Graph, New Search Techniques, Privacy Concerns and Data Integration

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Yesterday we posted the first five digital-marketing predictions from Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic, which looked at mobility, geo-location, viral marketing, gaming and online display. Today, we bring you the final five. And we want to know -- do you agree? What do you think will be the big issues of 2010? Here's the rest of the predictions for 2010.

Search evolves, but not everyone notices.
As marketing budgets remain under intense pressure, search will do well thanks to its clear and measurable short-term ROI. In 2010 search will become more relevant and efficient for users. The arrival of Bing has intensified competition between the major search engines, who will develop and experiment with new features such as vertical searches and more visual integration. For example, Google may adopt Bing's handy "more on this page" hover-over feature. But most consumers will continue to prefer a simple experience, and so more complex new features will be used by just a small minority of users.

Social media will affect search in two ways. Firstly, search will become increasingly real-time as users take advantage of Google and Bing search results, including Twitter and Facebook updates, or use Twitter search as a standalone application. Secondly, the meshing of search and social will be embodied by the arrival of Google's Social Search option, where you can see the information posted by people within your online social circle.

Major search providers, including Google, MSN and Yahoo are all focusing heavily on the new .mobi search domain. Travel and hospitality brands in particular will be interested in this new development as it fits well with the behavior of their target customers. Rapidly improving mobile applications such as map-based search and Google Goggles' picture-based search will encourage more consumers to search on the move.

We also expect research to continue into the interaction between search and display advertising. The influences between them are well established, but we expect experimentation to increase as more advertisers appreciate the branding role of search and the search influence of display, and then try to optimize this relationship for their brands.

Brands will realize online video is not a panacea.
Online video advertising continues to grow at a high rate, and we expect this trend to continue into 2010. Beyond the PC, online video is increasingly being watched via gaming consoles (eg. Xbox360) and mobile devices such as the iPhone. Developments in the sector will be driven largely by competition among major industry players such as Hulu and YouTube. Hulu, the ad-supported premium content site, has been growing fast, and some analysts estimate it accounts for 20% of all online video spend. YouTube still has a far higher number of viewers, and is incorporating increasing volumes of premium, long-form content from providers such as MGM, BBC, CBS and Lionsgate.

YouTube is also increasingly embracing short (15 second) pre-rolls and skippable video ads. Learning from the latter suggests that creative content plays a greater role in online video success than we see on TV. Content in the online space faces competition for user attention, thereby increasing the importance of creative ad quality -- this should lead more smart advertisers to pre-test their online creative before investing in relatively high online CPMs. Dynamic Logic has found that effectiveness may be tapering off as the "novelty" of online video fades and advertisers realize that the platform in itself is not the answer.

Video advertising can be highly effective when used well, with strong brand integration and entertaining content. In an effort to maintain impact and drive further engagement, advertisers will continue to experiment with extra layers of interactivity beyond standard pre-rolls -- such as one-third clickable overlays, expanding, interactive companion banners and interactive in-video elements. As they do this, advertisers need to be sure they aren't using technology just because they can: It will only be effective when it is relevant to the brand or the message.

Brands start taking advantage of social graphs.
If the late '00s were the era of the social network, the early '10s will see the rise of the "social graph" -- the network of you, your friends, and the friends of your friends.

Everyone has a social graph. In fact, the point of social networking has been to build one. We will now see services like Facebook and Google start to use social graph data more aggressively as we move away from the "destination web" towards a "social web" whereby people get information through their networks rather than a specific site. Facebook's new "reconnect with" feature is one implementation of social graph data.

The social graph needs two kinds of tool to work. At the service end, it needs algorithms -- the formulae that use your graph to determine what information and connections you value most, which allows services to predict what information you're going to like (including, of course, which products and marketing communications you'll appreciate). At the user end, it needs filters -- the ability to group people and information more effectively to get the most out of a network. The effectiveness of both algorithms and filters are improving rapidly, and these will be a big factor in the continued evolution of social media.

In 2010 there will be a heightened need for brands to understand how to be more social in order to access these more segmented networks. There's increasing evidence that the ROI of social media is definitely worth the effort.

Integration trend stimulated by privacy concerns.
We are in the midst of a shift (powered by digital) where information flows side to side as much as from top down or bottom up. This means that the act of consumers talking to one other now has a rightful place within the circle of influential communications that shape brands.

There are some unique rules of engagement in accessing that communication. If marketers and researchers want to be able to tap into the huge amounts of rich, accurate, and timely information that consumers themselves generate, they have to think beyond traditional paradigms.

The next 12 months will continue the "privacy by design" movement whereby consumer privacy and user control will become more important for those seeking to understand consumer behavior. Privacy elements will therefore need to be integrated into consumer generated platforms. This will naturally lead to a land grab where parties join forces e.g. a market research company and a social network provider, so that the transition between the platform and the third party collecting data become seamless.

We will also see a continuation of media convergence. The aggressive nature of regulatory regimes means a global privacy standards framework will become vital. A global framework will allow for a more uniform application of notice and consumer consent regardless of platform. This should allow for greater transparency, but will place a premium on the key partnerships that are given permission to be part of reduced set of data collectors and processors.

Data integration enables insightful 'tradigital' learning.
During 2009, digital marketing became increasingly complex and marketers have been looking for more guidance about where to advertise, what size of creative to deploy and which tools to use, from display to CRM to search to social networks and mobile.

Moving forward, the definition will change from managing "digital" to managing "tradigital" as the lines of demarcation between traditional and digital media blur. Media consumption patterns are driving this blurring of the boundaries, as TV viewing is either delayed or online; magazines offer integration of content in print and digital form; and online activities are leveraged for both online and offline sales goals.

This means that data integration will remain at the heart of our measurement challenge and will require a research platform linking many data initiatives that mirror the integration of the technology that delivers the marketing messages.

Survey research will remain the primary tool for understanding branding effects and motivations across these platforms, but the deeper value-add to the marketer will be how the branding effects in surveys help explain the behavioral and sales information coming from a variety of sources including buzz monitoring, online behavior tracking, shopper loyalty databases, consumer sales panels and custom databases. While online listening techniques will continue to grow in importance, marketers will find this of limited value unless they also understand who is saying what.

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Duncan Southgate is global innovation director at Millward Brown and Ken Mallon is senior VP of custom solutions for Dynamic Logic. They wrote this piece with assistance from the Millward Brown Futures Group, a global knowledge sharing forum of Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic staff, which focuses on the digital trends that will have a significant impact in the next three years.

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