Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 21, 2012 7:22 AM

The Digital Push Pushes On

You can bet I'm going to sound the trumpets any time online advertising makes an impressive move.

On January 19th, 2012, eMarketer dropped another stunning bomb for the advertising world in the news item, US Online Ad Spend to Close in on $40 Billion. Beyond the big numbers (40 billion dollars big) and the impressive growth (online advertising will grow 23.3% in 2012) came the news that "this year, US online ad spending will exceed the total spent on print magazines and newspapers for the first time, at $39.5 billion vs. $33.8 billion. And as online shoots up, the print total will continue to inch downward," according to the report. This is an incredible shift in the media landscape, especially if you consider that we're only talking about advertising and not overall digital marketing spend (Web development, mobile development, Social Media engagement, etc...).

Will online advertising surpass TV advertising next?

Not likely (at least not any time in the near future). According to the report, "spending on TV, however, appears largely unaffected by the growth of online. As internet ad spending rises, so will TV--albeit more slowly, and from a larger base. eMarketer estimates TV will grab $72 billion in US ad dollars in 2016, $10 billion more than will go online." What we're witnessing is the rise of active media as the dominance of passive media continues to do what it does so well (anesthetize the masses so that they can forget about the boring/terrible day that they had as it fills their heads with dreams and wants). The rise of active media (more on this here: The Next Layer Of Social Media) is where this gets interesting. Perhaps brands are no longer seeing this as a zero-sum game and are getting better (and wiser) at the notion of creating engagements that can be appreciated in both the active and the passive platforms.

Media is no longer a passive game.

There is no doubt that the digitization of media will continue to push on, The big shifts in the more passive media (TV, radio, print, etc...) will be in figuring out which of these media can actually morph into something that much more active (as consumers continue to become more and more comfortable with an active media engagement). The biggest and most telling move in this space will come from what both Apple and Google do with their pending television plays. According to the hints and whispers we hear about Apple's television products, they could well be using the Siri platform for vocal commands (bye bye remote control) or we could see Xbox Kinect-like technology for more of a Minority Report like kinetic movement experience. The other interesting factor will be how Facebook expands and develops its marketing and advertising opportunities. With close to one billion connected people, sharing and creating content, the time is ripe for the engagement to go well beyond targeted display advertising real estate.

No boiling the ocean.

With close to two decades of a commercialized Internet, the rise has been both swift and disruptive. It's going to continue. While some brands are struggling with the digital transition, it's becoming clearer that all brands understand both the power and the opportunity that lies before them. While it's never too late to transition to a digital-first posture, the brands that still attempt a "boil the ocean" strategy are usually the ones who are not being both strategic and iterative in their marketing mix and in understanding this developing opportunity for a new brand narrative. Ultimately, it's exciting to see this transition, but even more exciting to be a marketing professional during this time.

The question is: will brands see this as the amazing opportunity that it is or cave in from fear and apathy?

By Mitch Joel