There is a lot of buzz, hype, critical analysis, and downright drivel out there about trends in marketing and ad spending. Some have even asked whether advertising is dead. They're wrong.
Advertising is not dead folks, it has become more vibrant and complex than ever. It's growing in the online world where aggressive metrics and analysis demand instant accountability.
Here's an experiment: Try to go the next five minutes without seeing some kind of add. Ooops, too late, already happened, right?
In the Q4 of 2009, online advertising hit a new all-time quarterly high of $6.3 billion. What's changing about advertising is that its morphing, and the metrics and data used to track it are becoming more sophisticated than ever.
But yes, there are some major changes in the ad market. Media companies are frustrated because ads are becoming more technology and data driven. That makes it really hard to keep up. Here are some top advertising trends:
Fragmentation. Ads are being sliced and diced into dozens of new media a minute. It used to be the 30-second TV spot. Now there's in-game advertising, viral video, and Web astroturfing.
Action-driven. Much of the focus on online advertising is shifting from Pay Per Click (PPC) to Cost Per Action (CPA). "Spray and Pray" is dying. Why are marketing companies struggling with the new ad trends? Because the goal posts get moved every six months. It used to be that PPC and cost per lead were where the action was, now it's CPA.
More metrics. Still counting page views? Bwahahaha! So 2006. On the Web, advertisers are now more interested in the total amount of engagement and "stickiness" with the target audience. What are the metrics? I believe we're starting a long-term trend to moving more into engagement metrics such as time on site.
More accountable budgets. Marketers are demanding more and more accountability from advertisers. That may be why the advertising market seems a lot tougher. If marketers start an ad campaign, they want a whole raft of metrics to show their program is working.
Software analysis driven. Think back to the old TV ad campaign. There was not a whole lot of data on how/why/if it worked. Most of it was about buzz and hype. Maybe there was a focus group. Mostly, executives had to have a gut feeling on if it worked. Now ad data can be processed in real-time to anlalyze the Return on Investment (ROI) of every single dollar. Analysis firms such as Omniture, Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce.com, and others are becoming more sophisticated in tracking advertising, marketing programs, and audience patterns.
Where does this all lead? Advertising is being subsumed by the great online marketing Borg, a real-time processor of information and data. Yes, it's a long way from "Mad Men." Advertising has moved from art to science. Every action and reaction is now accountable. Get used to it.