Ben Shepherd: 9 trends to look for in 2009


Ok – so we’ve asked 9 people to submit their thoughts on the 9 trends to look out for in 2009. We’ve got CEOs of publishers, heads of media agencies, creative strategists, MDs of Ad Networks, industry association leaders … and me and Liam … all giving our thoughts on the areas to look out for.

Hopefully it sparks some discussion. I thought I’d start things off … it’s actually kind of difficult to limit it to 9 things, for me it’s more the 9 things that interest me. Enjoy.

1. Search costs will rise
More demand in a supply/demand marketplace should mean less supply and a rise in costs to play in the auction. Google are actively going to market with research that encourages brands to get involved in the ‘category’ terms game … which will push up bid prices and improve extraction for them. Key thing to watch for advertisers is what they do with traffic once they have it – improving conversion %’s and return traffic. Yes, this has been happening for years but I think in 09 it will face greater scrutiny. There is also a need to look closely at search and what incremental benefits it drives your business.

2. Off Deck Mobile advertising will become interesting
Mobile has had a good year – driven mainly initially through a reasonable on deck ad offering from Telstra. This made agencies and advertisers comfortable they could achieve reasonable results through the mobile device. iPhone and the N96/GPhone, new Samsung etc (ie all the touchscreen 3G phones) have now made the portable web a reality so the action will move from on deck sites (ie Vodafone live, Bigpond Mobile, Planet 3) into the off deck realm (ie the entire web). Operators like admob and Google are well positioned here as mobile web usage increases. Who will try and grab the offdeck space in AU?

3. Content will remain important
Bit of a no brainer. UGC is important but doesn’t replace the need for professional content. The two can, and will, work together.

4. Branded content will evolve locally
There is already interest from advertisers to develop their own content environments rather than fund other peoples … for those who can pull it off, this area will become increasingly important. Look at what John Battelle is doing with Federated Media in the Us for some great examples. This ties into point 3 – advertisers will continue to look to align themselves with high quality, respected content

5. Increasingly competitive ad market
The constant flood of economic woe sentiment is making publishers nervous. Most are predicting minimal or negative growth in the ad sector for 09 so there is going to be a fight amongst the players to grab a larger share of a pie that isn’t growing. Digital will continue to grow – but not at levels we’ve seen before and not as much as would have been forecast earlier in the year. At the same time, supply will increase … what does this mean? I’d say a lot will take yield hits, but the best operators will grow yield.

6. Measurement debate will evolve
IAB seem committed to making forward steps to evolve measurement in AU. I have banged on about it for long enough – 09 I think will see real progress. Nielsen are working on a solution, as is a new third party which seem to be developing an interesting piece of software. Dynamic Logic are in town in Jaunary to talk about cross media measurement as well. Nielsen will need to work through the conflict that exists – they make great revenue providing data to publishers, and now they want to make revenue from providing brand study research to advertisers. Can they do both and keep each party happy?

7. Death of Digital silo’s
Most media agencies are moving away from dedicated digital business units, integrating digital across the whole agency and client teams. This is a good thing and once the bumps are smoothed will be great for all involved. As David from Maxus says, ‘It’s all just media’. Could this happen with sales teams? Maybe – but not this year.

8. Focus on online boomers
Liam touched on this earlier in the year and it’s still an area not being catered for online. Do it well and the results could be fantastic. Sure, it’s not sexy … but I think sexy is taking a backseat in 09.

9. More qualitative research
I want to know more about why people do things online, as opposed to how. Knowing more about this will shape better creative and influence more efficient media plans. It will improve destinations and make digital comms more relevant. Easy enough to do if you have the time.

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3 responses to “Ben Shepherd: 9 trends to look for in 2009

  1. Great series, some really interesting points. On point seven I think 2009 will see sales teams move this way in response to the media agencies doing the same. Certainly an interesting year ahead.

  2. 2009 will truly see brands harnessing the power of collaboration through digital channels. People and computers are now so intertwined that collectively they can act quicker and cleverer than any individuals, group or computer have ever acted before. If this year collaboration through digital channels helped elect Mr O. to the white house, just think what brands could get the twits on twitter doing in 2009 🙂

    Charles Leadbeater is a collaboration guru, his book http://www.wethinkthebook.net/home.aspx is well worth a read and in true collaborative spirit if you have something to add let him know. The I love bees example will blow your mind!

  3. Pingback: A Digital Perspective » A Digital Perspective: Ben Shepherd, Associate Business Director, Mindshare

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