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13 Ad Predictions for 2013

1. Cross-channel is the new Gangnam Style

Cross-channel is every marketers dream. Now we’re almost there. From mobile ad networks to RTB technology in display, the building blocks are there for companies to roll up and deliver truly great cross-platform (mobile, display, search, social, etc) marketing solutions. Mobile players will get into video, display players will buy mobile, IP video targeting tech will be used on TV and so on. The proverbial last-mile is TV. That final battle will set the stage for the war to win cross-channel advertising.

2. AdTech Rings the Bell

2013 will ring in with another big AdTech company going public - most likely Turn. The outcome of this IPO will influence the strategies of other leaders in display - companies like MediaMath, MediaOcean and Collective - on the follow-up. The battle for the ‘not-Google’ slot will heat up as traditional video and radio spend shifts online - fast.

3. Big Bucks for AdTech Leaders

RocketFuel started the wave of big funding at big valuations in the late stage AdTech market this year. While some prepare for the big show, others will be amassing war chests for the battle ahead. AppNexus will likely lead the pack on this front as they announce a big financing as early as Q1. Look for 1-2 players that decide to go out in 2014 to go for this option.

4. Facebook Buys RTB

As the incumbent RTB players gather capital to finance rapid expansion, Facebook will continue with their march on the display world. The announcement of FBX was a shot heard around the AdTech world. For the first time, Facebook embraced cookie-based advertising. Google spent $6B to build their dominance in display. FB has declared this as a priority to Wall Street, so look for their spending to match their strategy. They will likely buy a player, or two in the RTB space like MediaMath, or PubMatic.

4. Google Does Data

It’s well-known in the AdTech universe that Google has been building a platform to help manage and activate data for marketers. This is the year where they will either release a capability, or swallow the bitter pill and buy a leader in this space. If there is a buy, this will likely be in the range of an Invite to AdMeld.

5. Google Keeps Fire on Social Post Wildfire

Google will continue to battle Salesforce and Oracle in the social marketing ecosystem. Wildfire was just the start. Google will buy capabilities to fill out the stack. Open slots in their stack include social monitoring, ad buying, and social engagement tools for publishers. They will likely start where they’re weakest and Salesforce is pushing hard with ad buying platforms like Nannigans, Graph Effect and Spruce as potential starting points.

6. Twitter Breaks a Billion… and RTB

2013 will be a big year for Twitter. In addition to filing to go public, the company will break $1B in ad revenue and enter the ranks of the big dogs in media. Unlike FB, the security will be priced reasonably when they go out. Much like Facebook, they will release the start of a programmatic means for advertisers to access their massive audience. New currency in hand, Twitter will rev up the acquisition engine and start to make big ($100M+) acquisitions.

7. Pinterest Goes Platform

Big brands and developers have been clamoring for Pinterest to enable them to better capitalize on the active and highly engaged user base hanging out there. Next year Ben Silbermann and team will answer the call. Look for products specifically for brands. 3rd party platforms like Pinbooster continue to develop capabilities in tandem and there may be an acquisition, or two to help them accelerate their path on this front.

9. Big Data Gets Bought - Round I

As brands continue to consolidate their cross-campaign data via DMPs, marketing service providers will begin to round out their capabilities in terms of data assets. Look for activity as acquirers buy data assets, data management capabilities, and data modeling. Also companies that move offline data online will be important. There is a long list of folks that will be on the hunt like Facebook, Yahoo, Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, Experian, Epsilon, and Neustar and more.

10. CRM Battle Continues

Oracle sent the message to Salesforce loud and clear with the purchase of Eloqua, the CRM battle is not over. In 2012, nearly $1B was spent on the social CRM (Buddy, Involver, Wildfire). This year, others will complete their CRM offering and round out their cross-channel capabilities by making a big buy here. Google anyone?

11. Video Ad Battle Heats Up

Big telcos and media companies alike are preparing for the inevitable shift to IP. Facebook’s video products will change the inventory dynamic. Though a number of large companies have already made significant investments in video infrastructure, look for a big buy to take place here to beef up. Videology or Brightroll seem to be front-runners in the space with large platforms and revenue, but also look to TubeMogul.

12. Live TV goes IP

Preparing for the cable rush, big telco companies begin to launch and more aggressively promote live TV capabilities for mobile. Once this begins, the TV to IP transition will accelerate. The key content provider in this race is the NFL. Look for them to set the pace of change as they tend to dominate the top rated programs on TV. The faster they move online, the faster traditional TV will get crushed.

13. Apple Takes on TV

But, wait, there’s one more thing. Post Steve Jobs Apple’s innovation track has been relatively – well – boring. From the slightly smaller iPad to a skinnier iPhone, they haven’t exactly been rocking the boat.  But this is still Apple folks.   This year they’re due for something big. Given the mounting battle for the home, taking TV is a logical step for the largest technology company in the world.

Follow me @hoomanradfar on the Twitter machine.

Hooman is an investor and entrepreneur with demonstrated experience in product development, strategy, operations, financing, and mergers & acquisitions. He is co-founder & chairman of AddThis, the world's largest social infrastructure and...

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