Herman identifies and discusses five "big top-level" trends that will impact digital marketing in the next year or so.
- Seamless social media management - The social media world is booming and shows little sign of slowing down. One problematic outcome has been sharing content across different social media platforms. We're seeing more cooperation among platforms in this area, particularly among platforms with a common corporate owner. But there looks to be a need for a social media management system that can cross corporate boundaries - and Herman notes that there are some new start-ups with promising services.
While such systems can simplify users' ability to manage multiple sites, they can also be very helpful in terms of launching media-driven campaigns, and in simplifying media efforts to make content available across multiple platforms and systems.
- Location, location, location - The growth of GPS-equipped mobile devices has opened up a new targeting dimension - location. The ability to target content to specific locations can be quite helpful - assuring that localized marketing dollars aren't wasted on out-of-location audiences. It can also open up marketing opportunities for smaller local businesses.
The ability of digital outlets to locally target can also be quite helpful for traditional media. Historically, their rise as mass media pushed an emphasis on content of broader, more general, interest. While some media could develop regional editions, there was little opportunity to really pursue truly local content. In addition, a lot of online data is now searchable by location, and media outlets can automate content delivery (nearby home sales, restaurants, crime, etc.).
- Data will drive cross-platform marketing - As Herman explains, "One of our clients told us to stop building cruise ships and focus on speedboats. What he meant was to stop focusing on big ideas that take months to plan and are hard to course correct if they turn out wrong. He pushed us towards planning speedboats, essentially microplans for different platforms that could then be optimized in market based on whether or not it was resonating." As platforms create more choices and fragment audiences, you can take advantage of that opportunity to reach the audience you want - if the data is there to identify where they are and what they're looking for.
There are two take-aways for media here - the first is the value of quality metrics; the second is that there is value in distributing your content and brand across digital platforms and services to take advantage of the various targeted niches.
- Content is marketing - With stand-alone ads losing some of their glamour, and the industry shifting towards a more organic approach towards monetization, remember that content is what drives audiences. The good news is that new technologies facilitate the integration of marketing and content - whether creating content to draw attention and audiences to your marketing campaign, or embedding marketing messages within outside content. Integrating marketing and content creation, if done well and in the right situation, can be quite successful (and doing it wrong can be almost as disastrous).
Content is the primary focus for media outlets, and historically there's been a wall between advertising and content. Starting to tear down that wall and considering how content and campaigns might create positive synergies for both is likely to be beneficial in the long run.
- Experiences and devices will be increasingly linked - The newest mobile devices are not only aware of where they are, but what other devices are nearby. And they can link with some, allowing users to share experiences, content, and thoughts. New technology is opening new opportunities for integrated cross-media marketing. (For example, as the Pizza Hut ad plays on your TV, your tablet brings up the website for the nearest one, along with a coupon that's highly targeted for that context - for example shifting from a deal on a medium to a deal for 4 larges when the system notes there are 15 other smartphones or tablets in the room).
Traditional media were truly mass media, because of the nature of their delivery system. One of the hard lessons of the last decade is that media don't have to only be that - going digital can open up opportunities for targeting, individualizing, linking, and soliciting and integrating user feedback. Media that can open themselves to consider, and take advantage of, those opportunities are the ones that are most likely to be successful in the emerging digital network economy.
It seems unlikely that there's a new, largely untapped, source of revenue to replace the growing losses in traditional media operations - or that traditional media will be successful in grabbing that new source for themselves. It's an increasingly competitive market out there, and success is more likely to come from exploiting the myriad new opportunities and niches - in looking for the many different ways to package and add value to content, in pushing content across multiple venues and platforms. I get the feeling that the industry is recognizing this - the question is whether they'll be able to embrace the opportunities for innovation that rapid technological advance creates.
Sources - Meet the Five Big Tech Trends Changing Marketing, promaxbda daily brief
Slideshow and full presentation on the topic (to be made at the upcoming Ad Age Digital Conference)