In 2009, Make Consumer Ad Preferences Priority One.

by | Jan. 13, 2009

As 2008 ended in a bang (I’m talking flames not fireworks), industry analysts scrambled to revise their advertising forecasts for 2009 and beyond. The current economic recession has caused increased uncertainty in the minds of advertising industry executives (as well as anyone who eats, breathes, and sleeps in the U.S.). I’ve read countless articles related to the advancement of new digital advertising technologies specifically targeting TV, online, and mobile. And while the opinions and predictions are fascinating, they also make my head spin especially when considering recessionary setbacks.

Most digital media advertising forecasts have been reduced from double-digit growth to single-digit growth for 2009 and beyond. Even so, all forms of digital media will see continued growth in advertising revenues at the expense of more traditional forms of advertising. Good news for digital media during a recession.

While the ad industry (content providers and publishers, technologists, advertising/media agencies, and media companies) contemplates which new forms of advertising will dominate in the future, I suggest all involved consult the consumer first.

Why? Digital media has created a consumer-centric world. It’s about what the consumer wants, when they want it, and how they get it. No longer does the Field of Dreams adage, “If you build it they will come” apply. Especially, when considering Generation Y/Millennials/Net Generation - depending on the source the monikers represent persons age 11 – 31. This generation is accustomed to a two-way communication approach since childhood – this applies to advertising as well. They’ve “grown up digital.” Advertisers are already looking at this generation in order to understand future purchase processes and preferences as this group matures into legitimate consumers.

Targeted, Addressable Television Advertising via Set-top Box.
Although I stated earlier on that ad revenue on digital media will grow at the expense of traditional mediums, I’m not predicting the death of traditional TV advertising. However, I do believe television advertising will eventually evolve into a targeted, addressable form delivered via cable and/or satellite set-top box.

In late October 2008, I posted a blog suggesting 2009 would be the year for advanced cable television advertising. However, until the economy stabilizes I highly doubt major cable companies, through the creation of Canoe Ventures LLC, will be financially positioned to advance and build-out targeted, addressable TV advertising via set-top box in 2009. Daily announcements of job cuts, operating budget cuts, and overall conservative spending in 2009 will halter the advancement of new forms of cable TV advertising. So, now is the time to ramp up efforts to better understand what types of targeted TV advertisements consumers will embrace and the forms they will not.

Online Advertising
The online advertising space will fare well in 2009. With that said, the online advertising ecosystem is still evolving. There was much discussion in 2008 regarding how online ads are bought (ad networks, traditional advertising agencies, marketers, content providers), where ads are placed (professional sites, video-sharing sites, social networking), what online ad formats to use (linear video, non-linear video, banner, search), and most importantly, online audience measurement and effectiveness (ROI, CPM, CPC, CPA). The online ad industry is still trying to figure out the most efficient and effective best practices and guidelines and delivery solutions. As the advertising industry clutches its purses during the recession, focus will be placed on predictable mass audiences, performance-based advertising solutions (effectiveness and trackability), and brand safe content. All of which points back to the consumer.

Mobile Advertising
2009 will be a year of continued development, advancement, and revenue growth for mobile advertising. Continued growth will be spurred due in large part to the proliferation of smart phones (iPhone, G1, and Blackberry). Again, consult the consumer first. Avoid unnecessary build-out costs and ineffective mobile ad formats/solutions by enhancing your knowledge of consumer mobile habits and ad preferences.

It's Simple: Make Consumer Ad Preferences Priority One

In 2009, top priority should be given by all companies in the digital advertising space to consumer advertising preferences. Consult the consumer during development and prior to deployment of the ad technology, format, and/or solution. I review a lot of data regarding audience measurement, new advertising technologies and formats and their utility but as advertising evolves in a digital age the industry must consider what ad forms and ad placements consumers prefer. I don’t suggest the industry is unaware or unresponsive to consumer demand in regard to advertising, but I question the importance as relatively little is reported or discussed regarding the ad preferences of the consumer.

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