A New Dawn for Interactive Advertising

We live in an age where we view and interact with screens at every turn of our lives, from the mornings where we arrive at work and check up on the latest news on our laptops, get our emails and status updates on our smartphones, and finally settle down in the evenings and view our favorite shows on our televisions. Between these and other screens, it seems that information and entertainment is never out of our reach, and marketers are now faced with the task of restructuring their current marketing efforts to better target customers at any given point in the day. Forrester Research recently released their 2012 Interactive Marketing Predictions Report, and in it they highlight the advertising trends of the upcoming year, giving us a good idea of what to expect from marketers.

A Retrospective

2011 was a year for efficiency and data collection, where digital marketers utilized a variety of outsourced data overlays to gather as much information on consumers as necessary in an effort to become as efficient as possible. Analytics were a key feature for most marketers, and they used the collected data to create relevance for the consumer in an effort to get them to be more interested in the service or product.

We also saw the rise of privacy concerns among customers, who learned to be more cautious when releasing and handling any information online. These fears were reinforced by the numerous inquiries levied against our biggest social networks by government agencies, and going forward consumers are now aware to be more careful and mindful online with their social data. In the upcoming year, we should expect to see many of these fears addressed and marketers will utilize this data control in new ways to target more focused demographics.

Evolving the Mobile Game

In 2012, marketers will see the full realization of the fact that a majority of consumers will now be always-on, referring to the fact that they will virtually always have online access to any number of networks and websites, no matter the screen. The convergence of the variety of screens people have on them will mean advertisers will now find ways to target customers at all times of day, and with the vast capabilities of modern smartphones, mobile will take center stage in terms of targeted advertising.

Mobile advertising has grown substantially over the past year, however there are key features most phones have that marketers have yet to tap into and we should expect to see these features utilized to produce highly effective customer results. The first of these features is geo-locating, which is done either by GPS pinpointing or cell network triangulation. Regardless of the method, a person's cell phone can generally be tracked down to within a mile of any given location, and this functionality will pave the way to location-aware advertising. This means consumers will not only receive promotional messages for products, but will be informed of the nearest places they can get them. Recent studies have found that more than 50% of people want location-based advertising on their mobile devices, and this shouldn't come as any surprise given the recent surge of location-based mobile apps such as Foursquare or Path.

Relevance vs. Targeting

2012 won't be all about mobile though. As I mentioned earlier, data gathering was tantamount to marketing success this past year, and now all this data will be pooled and used to manage demographics in new and more relevant ways. Numbers will fade into obscurity, as marketers will target consumer interests. We've no doubt seen plenty of examples of this already in our day-to-day lives on sites such as Youtube or Netflix, both of whom give suggestions based on what we've either rated already or what we are currently viewing. This will translate into advertising by the aggregation of social data from our Facebook or Twitter pages, where we generally give out and share our interests.

Think about it like this: Paramount is looking for ways to get the word out about their newest movie, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and to do so they want to rely heavily on targeting users who are more likely to spread the word to their friends. When targeting these users, the best place to look would be social data, and Paramount could look either at existing profile data where people shared other movies they liked (and most likely included similar movies to MI:GP), or past status updates, where they shared excitement either about Mission Impossible itself, or other movies that are similar. The results would be that these users would be way more likely to talk about Mission Impossible with their friends and networks.

What It All Means

These new and innovative marketing techniques will take hold in the upcoming year, and consumers will now be empowered with the utmost relevant information to their needs, whether they are influenced by looks, stats, or any other variety of factors. It's through these upcoming advertisements that we will see the full integration and implementation of marketing at its utmost personal level, driving conversions at an unprecedented level.

You can find the Forrester 2012 Interative Marketing Predictions Report here.

Photo by Emerson Walter

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