Now that the digital industry is beginning to see the tail end of the recession and budgets are gradually being restored, many media professionals are still hopeful that digital marketing will remain a formidable powerhouse and emerge from the downturn stronger than ever.
The Kelsey Group released a report stating that for the first time, digital media use has finally exceeded traditional media consumption. And an optimistic 77 percent of local businesses are integrating some form of digital marketing into their media plans.
A veteran digital media strategist, Sean Finnegan, president, chief digital officer, Starcom MediaVest Group, took a moment with iMedia to answer a few questions on the state of digital marketing, what new trends are on the horizon, and what Starcom MediaVest is doing to keep its clients at the forefront of emerging media.
In his position at Starcom MediaVest, Finnegan is charged with helming the agency's global and regional innovation strategies and pioneering the implementation of emerging technologies. Finnegan is also an active voice within numerous online advertising industry groups and associations, including the AAF, IAB, AAAAs Digital CEO Board, Google's Agency Advisory Council, and the Facebook Customer Council.
Before joining Starcom MediaVest, Finnegan was CMO of Vibrant Media, a worldwide video advertising network, and prior to that he was the chief executive officer of OMG Digital, a unit of Omnicom Media Group.
iMedia: Now that the economy is stabilizing, where are you going to increase your digital spend?
Sean Finnegan: Well, first, even during the downturn, Starcom MediaVest's global allocation to digital was not tracking with the reported industry decreases. Our clients are focused on results and agnostic to channels, therefore online vehicles have seen stable growth due to accountability and attentiveness.
As for investment increases, without a doubt video will be the global growth driver for digital ad spending over the next three years. Also, specifically in the emerging markets, there will be growth in mobile, with SMS first, and then rich formats as smartphones become cheaper and more accessible to rural areas.
iMedia: Which social media platforms do you think are overhyped/have proven useless for promoting your clients?
Finnegan: The value of advertising in social media today lies in mining consumer sentiment and intent. Its growth into a useful forum for an advertiser begins with listening tools. This will soon evolve and escalate into mainstream ad adoption, which means increased spending. But that timeline is also commensurate with social user comfort and intuition.
iMedia: What marketing buzzword would you like to see go away?
Finnegan: How about all of them? I believe our industry's ability to create buzzwords is not always supported with consumer results or business sense.
iMedia: What's the killer app that will change digital marketing? What's on the horizon?
Finnegan: I believe the horizon sees continued traditional media evolution to a digital platform. From TV's addressability to out-of-home video and mobile use, to print's incorporation of technology plus the overall integration of the social graph. As the media we consume becomes more immediate, customized, and measurable, ad messaging will be that much more relevant and helpful.
iMedia: How does an agency adapt/stay ahead of emerging technologies?
Finnegan: The Starcom MediaVest Group agencies stay ahead in futures-based media by being personally invested and immersed within them all. We have dedicated groups that lead, consult, and activate in all emerging arenas. Our investments pay off when we guide our clients to where their consumer base is trending towards and active within. One example is in VivaKi's The Pool, where with our clients and a host of leading media partners, we work to understand the true impact and measurability of online video, social, mobile, and more.
Gretchen Hyman is executive editor for iMedia Connection.
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