Would you believe me if I told you that in the early days of the Internet, online advertising was actually forbidden? If we go back to the beginning of the inter-webs, two early networks actually banned “commercial activities by for-profit institutions.”
Yes, that’s right. Wikipedia and I just blew your mind.
That “acceptable use policy” obviously didn’t last forever and in 2012, Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. topped $36.5 billion.
Online advertising has come a very long way, and in less than twenty years, it has re-shaped the way businesses communicate and engage with their customers. As we look to the future, here are four trends from 2013 that should continue to grow in the next year.
The lines between promotion and content will continue to blur.
Historically, content comes before promotion. You identify your target audience, determine content for that audience, and then create a plan for how to promote that content. While this flow still works in many instances, I expect to see that process jumbled a bit more in 2014.
As consumers continue to be bombarded with messaging, marketers need to be exceptionally tuned in to what consumers really want – and what they want is something interesting and relevant. Recycling web content and even creating new content designed for specific ad platforms will drive higher CTR’s in 2014.
Infographics are a perfect example of this. An infographic might be included in a content strategy to help facilitate the rest of the site’s content, or it could be included in a promotional/traffic strategy with a goal to attract new audiences.
For these reasons, I would expect to see content managers working closely with ad managers, or even a blurred job title for someone who focuses solely on promotional content. Ad managers are good at selling quickly, and content managers are good at telling a story – in 2014 we need to merge those skills. I also expect that we’ll see a new form of fast and easily digestible content, something that excites us as much as infographics did a year ago.
Another piece of wiki-trivia for you: The first AT&T ad (back in the early 90’s) had a 44% click-through rate, and directed users to an online tour of seven art museums instead of directing clickers to AT&T's website. Perhaps the concept was: we think you’ll like this content, and if you like the content we give you (no matter what it is), you’ll like us?
The lines between promotion and social will continue to blur.
I’m not suggesting that your Facebook feed turns into a promotional listing of your sales. Without a doubt, social activity should be focused first and foremost on community management. However, Facebook isn’t hiding the fact that organic numbers are dropping. In December, the company shared a document on generating business results on Facebook, which suggested that businesses need to pay for maximum delivery. In essence, if brands want to see impressions, it’s going to cost money.
What does this mean for 2014? Your ad team, who specializes in conversion optimization and targeting, along with your social team, who specializes in messaging and your audience, will need to work closely with one another to ensure the right posts are getting good coverage.
We’ll continue to look beyond Adwords.
Since its launch in 2000, Google Adwords has influenced the advertising industry to become what it is today. In Q3 last year, Google reported $14.9 billion in income and nearly all of that revenue comes from advertising.
From geo-targeting, to behavioral targeting, and remarketing, Adwords updates have pushed marketers to strive for bigger and better results. I love Adwords for this and so many other reasons, but in 2013 I started to relinquish some of my PPC budget for other options and I expect that to continue in 2014. Here’s why:
- Facebook: By now, we all know that if you want to see impressions on Facebook, it’s going to cost you. Thankfully those costs are low, but for certain clients, I expect to see increased budgets for sponsored posts.
- Media buys: Traditionally, online media kits offered a selection of banner ads. In the past year, I’ve seen those kits expanded to include email banners, stand-alone email content, and even blog posts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about buying spam links – but this new array of offerings allow us to connect with our partners’ audiences in new and exciting ways.
- Adroll remarketing: Remarketing on Facebook generated great results in 2013. While Adroll certainly has some limitations, we saw higher ROI than we did for our Adwords campaigns. I don’t envision a huge portion of our ad budget being spent on this platform in 2014, but it will continue to supplement our search and display campaigns.
Tracking will be more important than it has ever been.
Can you tell me the ROI of every marketing dollar spent in 2013? If not, then it’s time to get your tracking in order! As multi-channel advertising grows we’re going to have more options for where to spend, which means we’ll need to be more diligent than ever in making sure we can evaluate ROI.
In addition, as advertising continues to creep into other channels – and as social managers and content managers start to work more closely with ad managers – 2014 will be the year that more team members get excited about tracking and performance analysis.
What changes do you expect to see in paid online advertising during 2014?