In light of the undoubted benefits of this element of digital marketing, we've been debating some big themes for the coming year that will support and enhance both the individual activities and overall perception of performance marketing.
1. The new frontier
The past year saw some key strategic manoeuvres such as Adobe's acquisition of Efficient Frontier, which added a vital new search intelligence channel to Adobe's ever- expanding marketing suite. With the increasing complexity in both digital marketing as a whole and each individual channel separately, inevitably some technologies and services will marry to deliver simpler, more cohesive solutions and get undoubtedly increased traction in the market.
Both in the UK and throughout the world, consolidation of suppliers and services will continue to trend in 2012 as time-poor, data-rich agencies struggle to combine disparate aspects of their work into compelling, intuitive analysis for their clients. As such, we expect that at least one global technology supplier as we know it now will disappear by end of 2012.
2. Demand-side platforms will give results
It will undoubtedly be the year that demand-side platforms (DSPs) move from hype, to hyperactivity. The buzz around the topic in 2011 has been justified: DSPs today offer valuable gains by centralising all display advertising real-time buying (RTB) efforts into a single management console that reaches across the varied ad network offerings, thus turning display advertising from a negotiation buy to an auction buy.
While all DSPs have, by and large, access to the same inventory, a new proliferation of offerings will evolve around ways to segment this same inventory by verticals (travel, finance, etc) and demography for example, as well as ways of optimising the real-time-buying process.
3. Google+ and friends
Today's search marketing capabilities and results have effectively commoditised this marketing channel. For some years now, none of us have worked with a brand that would not benefit from including search in their marketing efforts. This maturation has however meant that the returns achievable by agencies are diminishing, regardless of the continued innovation and efforts in the channel and thus, agencies are struggling further to monetise their services in this space.
There is however a fast-approaching new element to search that could well bring about a new era of opportunity, which is the integration of 'social' with 'search'. With the arrival of Google+ and others looking to integrate social signals with search engines, marketers are already looking at ways to draw the two together to add more value for brands and consumers alike. 2012 is therefore going to see some interesting developments on this front that we predict will enable further agency innovation and growth.
4. Shiny new things
The core marketing channels we all work with will shift and ebb further in 2012 in line with adoption and opportunity. We're only just starting to see Twitter's roadmap evolve, but it is already being marked out as an upcoming major player for marketing spend this year. How it intends to roll out its advertising offering is still being debated, but monetising the user base through advertising is a given and we envision performance-based activity will be an integral part of the 2012 offering.
Another hot topic that we keep coming back to is mobile. As a marketing channel, mobile seems to have topped the prediction lists all too frequently over the last decade. Consumer adoption has certainly been assured for some time now and with the continued advance of mobile internet capabilities and devices this is set to grow still further, yet marketing adoption has lagged behind.
We do however believe that 2012 will be the year that changes. The IAB's 2010 figures show mobile advertising in the UK grew by 116 per cent to £83 million while the latest Warc & Advertising Association Expenditure Report (November 2011) shows that radio has achieved 13.4 per cent growth in Q3 2011. eMarketer in December 2011 reported that in the US, mobile accounts for 10.1 per cent of time spent, but just 0.9 per cent of ad spend while radio achieved a 14.6 per cent time share, and 10.9 per cent of ad spend. These figures clearly show the discrepancy between channels and we therefore predict that, along with print, radio will decline as mobile rises to the fore.
5. The world is your (information) oyster
This dynamic, constantly shifting landscape creates a pressing need for better integration to maximise what is achievable. The data available to digital marketers today is incredible, with everything from the new frictionless sharing capabilities of Facebook, to initiatives such as the Guardian's data services, to precipitation plug-ins that enable campaigns to be optimised against weather conditions. Making sense of all that data at both micro and macro level is where productivity gains lie, as well as truly useful, actionable intelligence about how to further optimise activity.
Agencies need this data integration if they are to perform effectively, grow their profit margins and communicate the meaning and value of their work to clients. This new world of data is the most exciting marketing opportunity -- and challenge -- of recent years and we can expect to witness 2012 draw to a close with unprecedented cohesion between both the data that powers performance campaigns and the solutions providers serving digital marketing agencies.
Laurent Boninfante is the EMEA MD for Acquisio.
>>>What are you looking forward to in the world of digital marketing this year? Let us know at [email protected]