1) More open minds (whether forced or otherwise) and credibility around digital. Even the crustiest old print publishers (e.g. b2b trade magazines) are seeing their online properties playing a key role in getting them through the next year.
2) 2009 will be my 15th year in this business and while there have been great technological strides during that time, many of the battles we fight remain the same. If all of the predictions of “flight to accountability” are true, I would like to think that the economic challenges we face in the coming year will ultimately strengthen the industry because there will be a clearly thought out rationale for the role of digital media by advertisers. I’d like to think 2009 will forever change the way media budgets are allocated.
3) More seasoned media professionals looking to enter the industry as main media sheds experienced staff. We’ll see whether their skill sets are easily transferable and effective regardless of their knowledge of digital media.
4) Increased use of niche/special interest sites, and the rise of “federations” built around a target audience – which solve a problem for agencies looking to reach an audience without having to go to numerous sources; as well as for the sites who don’t always think they are understood by the networks representing them.
5) We see a sales management challenge on the publisher side (and I’m sure it’s true in agencies, too) where Gen Y sales reps don’t want to socialize with agencies/clients and they aren’t motivated by money. That’s one of the major and most unsettling changes I’ve seen in the industry in a long time. Gen X managers don’t know how to deal with this mindset, which tells me there’s got to be a lot of inefficiency in many sales teams right now.
6) Another trend we’re seeing is increased annoyance on the part of online media sales reps with agencies – to the point of animosity. It seems to come from frustration and not understanding how to work with agencies due to cumbersome structural issues on both sides. I’m sure the agency guys are feeling the same way about reps, but most of our work is with the sellers. While there needs to be some amount of friction between buyers and sellers, the feelings we’re seeing go way beyond the norm. This is another issue that will need to be sorted in order for the industry to reach its potential.
7) A standard planning metric for online advertising from the IAB. I believe the back-end metrics around “did this campaign/these sites work?” are the most important measurement, but if a reach metric will give conservative advertisers the comfort level they need to move money, I’m all for it.
8) The “stranded on a desert island factor” – as HH’s are financially squeezed, one of the last things they’ll be willing to give up is their internet connection. Newspaper subscriptions? Pay TV? Impulse magazine buy at the checkout? I’m afraid they’ll all take a backseat to a broadband subscription. A recession may give us the ammunition we need to finally make a case for the importance of the web in consumers’ lives.
9) How about bringing one American over to fill a role for every 10 from the UK? I still think the U.S. turns out the best salespeople in the world (now I’ll duck and cover!).
Best wishes for everyone in 2009