In our discussions about what will happen in the digital marketing industry during the next 12 months, one overarching trend emerged: The basic rules of brand building are just as important for innovations in the digital space as they are for traditional forms of communication.
Using new technology won't in itself bring success; your digital communications still need to be creative, engaging and relevant if they are to cut it during the second decade of this century. Here are the first five of our top 10 trends for 2010. (We'll post the next five here tomorrow.)
Online display: Don't be blinded by the shiny and new.
In 2010, advertisers will experiment with new, larger ad formats. These formats may be initially attractive because they are different, but the basics of brand building beyond awareness shouldn't be ignored. Most of the new formats perform very well in the short term. Dynamic Logic has previously reported the high performance (brand impact) of video ads when they were first introduced. They found that video ad performance, relative to average ad performance, declined over a two year period following introduction as the novelty wore off. We'd expect this to be true for most of the new, larger ad formats and their progeny.
Ultimately, over the next several years only the fittest for these larger formats will survive. If they prove too intrusive, they may make people less favorable toward the advertised brand or the website on which they are served. Other advertisers and agencies will use these formats more cautiously, taking note of creative best practices gleaned from prior work.
Viral video will move from art to science.
As online video consumption continues to rise, advertisers increasingly value viral viewings as a clear and visible sign that their campaigns are engaging audiences. In response, viral video analytics are becoming sophisticated. YouTube has enhanced its video analytics offer, and companies such as Visible Measures and Unruly Media are providing comprehensive viral monitoring services across multiple online video platforms.
This information will fuel a more scientific approach to viral campaign planning. Rather than just place videos online and hope an audience will come, advertisers will invest in viral seeding strategies. They'll promote their videos via online influencers, Facebook video-sharing applications and targeted, paid placements. Advertisers will also become smarter about developing and selecting ads with the most viral video potential before they employ the seeding. A recent calibration exercise for Millward Brown's Link pre-test, for example, identified the creative factors which explain most of the variation seen in levels of viral viewing.
While there are likely to still be more misses than hits in the viral space, the opportunity of being next year's T-Mobile "Dance" or Evian's roller babies is something many marketers will plan for.
Gaming gets more social and mobile.
The ability to access Twitter and Facebook from the Xbox game system is one sign console gaming is becoming a lot more social. Games such as "Uncharted 2" already allow you to tweet your progress from within the game and we anticipate seeing these features implemented in more games. Microsoft's Project Natal promises to bring even more interactivity to gaming by supplanting controllers with your actual body movements, improving immensely on a model created by Nintendo. Perhaps the most promising and category-busting idea appears to be OnLive, a games-on-demand service that allows you to play any console or PC game on your TV or computer, without the need for a console at all.
Gaming's reach is already significant -- "Modern Warfare 2" is the biggest entertainment launch ever -- but the social elements are going to make the growth exponential. The proliferation of mobile games such as Doodle Jump for the iPhone, which allows the user to interact with other players, brings gaming to the masses.
Dynamic Logic's research has already shown that gaming can be very effective in increasing brand metrics. As interactivity increases and gaming becomes ubiquitous, we expect more advertisers to enter this space. For example, in the fall of 2010, Disney will launch "Epic Mickey" for the Nintendo Wii, the first major communication vehicle for a significant repositioning of this much-loved global brand.
Mobile takes a bite out of online.
According to the Mobile Marketing Association, total U.S. spend on mobile marketing will grow from $1.7 billion this year to $2.16 billion in 2010. Google's $750 million purchase of mobile ad network Admob reinforces that 2010 will be a significant year for mobile. We expect to see more consolidation in the mobile space.
With Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and RIM's BlackBerry platforms making the smartphone choices more attractive to consumers and cost of access slowly coming down, mobile web usage numbers will increase. The iPhone alone has now reached 57 million units worldwide, the fastest uptake in the history of technology. The real innovation will be increased adoption of the next-generation mobile browsers that will make the mobile web look and feel more like the applications we know today.
While web-based mobile, despite its growth, still only reaches a relatively small number of people, this niche audience can be particularly attractive to some brands and we've seen many targeting successes. Mobile provides the ability to target by site, phone model, demographics and location, all of which can be useful to advertisers. In addition, Dynamic Logic's normative advertising effectiveness data already suggests that mobile is two to five times better at driving brand metrics than online, and we expect this differential to remain consistent in 2010.
All of this means that mobile may well start to take ad dollars which would previously have been spent online. Since it's a new medium, there remains some consumer resistance to mobile advertising, so we advertisers will initially favor the soft-sell approach of providing useful content in this space, rather than pushing hard-sell messaging.
Here I am. Over here!
The promise that technology would enable automated direct-marketing messages to be pushed to consumers with GPS-enabled mobile devices has yet to come to fruition. Consumers are understandably reluctant to broadcast their location randomly or to be interrupted by unexpected messages without their consent. Instead we're seeing a variety of innovative solutions created to facilitate geo-targeting of marketing messages (when in-aisle, in-store or in-proximity) as the number of GPS-enabled devices continues to rise.
Services such as the mobile game FourSquare contain a social-media element that allows users to broadcast their location to a network of friends and other users in their respective cities. The social element of this voluntary disclosure has allowed marketers to tap into an engaged network of users and offer special promotions based on reported location. We expect FourSquare and other apps with a hybrid location/social-networking component to grow significantly in 2010.
We also expect to see utility-focused location applications gain popularity on GPS-enabled mobile devices during 2010. ComScore has reported that 11% of their mobile panel is currently using map or direction-based applications on their devices, representing 41% year-on-year growth and potentially stealing market share from standalone GPS devices. How these applications are eventually monetized remains to be seen, but the "Minority Report" scenario of "push" location-based advertising is starting to become a reality through voluntary user disclosure of location.
Even if consumers won't share their location with brands, brands can share their locations with consumers. In this vein, marketers will increasingly make location a feature of their campaigns, as the recent Levi's Twitter promotion in Australia demonstrates.
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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.