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The Biggest Advertising News Stories of 2012

10 Events and Trends That Rocked the Ad and Marketing Industry

Published on .

<a href='http://adage.com/directory/walmart-stores/294' class='directory_entry' title='Ad Age LookBook'>Walmart</a> Labs

Data Dominates

Not since the phrase "social media" have two words so overtaken our industry. From the Barack Obama re-election campaign to Unilever to Sony, everyone is panning the data rivers for marketing gold. And unlike other adland trends, the consensus seems that this one is relevant to the bottom line. You can't get by with a guru for big data. You need an actual scientist -- and those are some of the most sought-after pros in the land.

Dentsu Acquires Aegis

Dentsu's acquisition of London-based Aegis Group in a cash deal worth about $5 billion marked an effort by the Japanese holding company to get serious about growing outside of Asia. Business outside of Japan composed only 16.2% of Dentsu's revenue in 2011. Combined, Dentsu and Aegis' clients include about 75 of the top 100 advertisers in the world, company executives said.

Ewanick Exits GM

Ewanick Exits GM

When Joel Ewanick was ousted from his role as chief marketer at GM in July, there was no shortage of theories as to why: he was a change agent clashing with Detroit's good ol' boys; he pulled ad dollars out of the Super Bowl and Facebook; he cursed in public. Most likely reason? The man pushing GM into the marketing future hadn't properly disclosed as much as a third of the cost of a $559 million deal with soccer club Manchester United.

Facebook's Unfriendly IPO

With 1 billion users of all ages and races and religions from around the world, the Facebook IPO was a sure bet, right? But reminders that the revenue model was still more theoretical than real combined with GM loudly proclaiming it was pulling ad spending from the company came at the worst possible time. The stock was initially offered at $38 and quickly went down from there. As of this writing, it was trading at $27.75.

JC Penney Reinvents Retail

JC Penney Reinvents Retail

JC Penney started out the year by announcing nothing short of the reinvention of retailing. Gone would be gimmicky sales and price promotions; in would be "fair and square" pricing. Wall Street hailed CEO Ron Johnson's audacious plans, until first-quarter numbers showed that consumers weren't buying it. The company scaled back plans a little and key architect Michael Francis left, but Mr. Johnson -- cheered on by many experts while jeered by others -- is intent on continuing the experiment.

Super PACs Get Horrible ROI

This was supposed to be the year corporate America bought the presidential election. In a post-Citizens United world, Republican millionaires and billionaires tossed tons of cash into the Republican primaries -- only to watch all their faves lose to Mitt Romney. And then they lined up to help Mr. Romney. While the Republican forces did manage to outspend Barack Obama and the Democrats, the Obama campaign out-advertised them with better targeting, messaging and buying.

Hurricane Sandy Socks Adland

Hurricane Sandy Socks Adland

Hurricane Sandy hit the industries we cover fairly hard. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut account for 20.8% of U.S. employment in advertising, public relations and related services. Many agency offices were closed for days, some for weeks as employees scrambled to makeshift work spaces. Marketers, too, braced for sales impacts of store closings -- Starbucks, for example, closed 1,000 locations. One analyst predicted Sandy would register an up-to-$500 million blow to the U.S. ad industry.

Newsweek Ends In Print

Newsweek Ends In Print

For nearly 80 years, Newsweek was a fixture in American homes and helped readers make sense of the prior week's news and hopefully, take a look forward. It was the younger, smaller and pluckier rival to Time magazine. In October, The Newsweek Daily Beast Co. announced that as part of cost-cutting, the Dec. 31, 2012, issue would be Newsweek's last in print. It will be replaced with a global digital edition that will publish to the web, e-readers, tablets and other devices.

Marissa Mayer Named Yahoo CEO

Marissa Mayer Named Yahoo CEO

With its July appointment of former Google exec Marissa Mayer to the role of CEO, Yahoo's board shocked the industry. While much was made over her gender and pregnancy, more relevant to the business was the selection of an executive with a technical rather than a media background. Ms. Mayer said in October that the company is not embarking on "a giant pivot," and that she will focus on what she called the four "daily habits": search, email, home page and mobile.

Digital Dimes to Mobile Pennies

Now that mobile has worked its way into every facet of our lives, it seems publishers may have fumbled once again. Where they once lamented that offline dollars turned into "digital dimes" as content and audiences moved to the web, those digital dimes are turning into mobile pennies. Effective cost-per-thousand impressions on the desktop web is about $3.50. On the mobile internet? A whopping 75 cents.

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