How do you see behavioural targeting fitting into an overall marketing mix?
We've been talking to the market for the last three years about behavioural and in that time we have seen the number of RFPs requesting an element of behavioural growing to the point where it is now almost ubiquitous.
Behavioural targeting is now a fully established mainstream media tactic. Understanding of consumers' needs and buying behaviour is essential to all marketing success and behavioural targeting technology allows marketers to minimise wastage and target consumers based on those very behaviours rather than through standard channels or demographic targeting.
Whilst contextual advertising will still play a huge part in media buys, I expect behavioural to become even more widely adopted and understood than in 2007. There is a real opportunity for marketers to capitalise, not only from tracking behaviours on their own site, but by combining those with behaviours on publisher sites and networks. Category understanding and consumer analysis allows behavioural targeting to focus on where the individual consumer is in the purchase funnel.
More players in the marketplace and more investment in the technology means behavioural will only get more sophisticated and more accountable. In turn, more marketers will look towards behavioural to complement their usual metrics of reach and frequency. Behavioural data will become essential in getting the right message to the right people at the right time.
Further analysis of opinions on social media also offers marketers the opportunity to get consumer insight and potential engagement opportunities.
We've seen lots of excitement around widgets, video targeting and many other emerging technologies. What new technologies or trends do you think will be most beneficial to advertisers?
When talking to online marketers, one of the biggest complaints I regularly hear about is the lack of clarity when measuring display campaigns' effectiveness. Improved analytics and sophisticated measurement techniques should continue to get better as ultimately these tools allow marketers to judge if their marketing is a success or where improvements are needed. I think advertisers would love to see a cheaper, more effective way of proving ROI with their online spend.
The rise of social networks advertising will continue, and I think there will also be more niche networks being formed around specific user interests or demographics such as Saga Zone
. Sophisticated ad targeting, like the Beacon platform, will offer advertisers new opportunities on social networks and it will be interesting to see what happens to OpenSocial and which brands take advantage of the increasing opportunities an 'open' web offers.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to online growing in line with all of the massive projections?
There is always pressure for all of us working in online to continue to innovate and push boundaries. Challenges to online include the price and fragmentation of other media, meaning that TV and radio are cheaper to buy than they used to be. Likewise, other media are raising their game as well with outdoor and TV starting to make the most out of the digital opportunities out there. The U.K. has one of the most sophisticated online markets on the planet and I'm confident there are enough skills and talent here to continue the amazing success, which has seen London's digital industry become the envy of the world.
Rather than cause concern, I think any economic uncertainty will be good news for online, particularly search, as marketers reduce some of their traditional media spend in favour of proven ROI from online marketing.
As a media owner I would love to see us -- the planning and buying agencies and the creative agencies -- all work closer together and start delivering highly tailored, made-for-web adverts. Better advertising will mean better response and a cheaper, more efficient creative process will encourage advertisers to spend more online.
In the past, every two years has seen a new ad format being introduced in the hope that this will improve click-through rates (CTRs). We spend a lot of time stressing the branding benefits of display advertising and arguing that CTRs aren't the only measure of a campaign's success. Even so, the continued decline of display CTRs remains a concern. Consumers' lack of interest in clicking on adverts and the threat of ad blocking technologies all pose question marks for the industry moving forward.
I hope we see more advertisers turning their ads into interesting and relevant content and putting it into the hands of consumers already well versed in creating and sharing their own content. Rather than trying to distract and pull consumers towards their brand sites, the brands should be thinking about pushing their content to consumers in clever and engaging ways.
Privacy issues will remain a concern. Although it hasn't had too much of a detrimental impact so far, Facebook's recent launch of their 'social ads' and, in particular, the U.S. launch of 'Beacon' proved once again that users aren't too keen to have their personal details or their behaviour commoditised on the web. Social networks will have to think carefully to avoid further backlashes.
One more thought, I wonder what would happen if the entire global online population decided to delete their cookies on a daily basis? Probably not worth thinking about!
What do you see as the next big trends in the U.K. and how does that affect what publishers can offer in online media packages?
Who could have predicted what happened in 2007? Those sites with quality, trusted content will continue to attract the majority of brand campaigns, although I wouldn't bet against another big, new company arriving from out nowhere this year.
Saying that, the online superpowers will continue to grow and the networks will continue to get more sophisticated in their ability to target specific users with no wastage or compromise on reach.
New niche networks will also continue to be formed between publishers, as we have done with our environment network, and I suspect you will see once traditional competitors use technology to work together to offer premium audiences at scale. I'm a big fan of the open ad exchange model and wish I had thought of it myself. An increasing amount of U.K. inventory will be bought and sold this way.
People will no longer need to be convinced about behavioural technology as new research and case studies will enable marketers to start insisting behavioural as standard.
I'm thinking about jumping on the mobile bandwagon and saying this is the year that mobile will finally take off. The Apple iPhone was a massive step in the right direction, but I'm still thinking about that one. Although, I definitely think brands will put more budgets towards widgets and social applications.
Video will continue to attract more ad spend and it will be interesting if the market decides it prefers pre-rolls or the interactive overlay formats favoured by Google.
I expect to see media owners revise their video strategy accordingly as consumers let their feelings known and standards of video content are raised across the U.K.
My many thanks to Neil for his incredible insight. I look forward to seeing how his predictions come to fruition in the next year.
Jeremy Mason is managing director of European operations, Revenue Science, Inc.
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