comScore released their Digital Future In Focus report this week and it offers a compelling view of the still-evolving opportunities that online marketing offers to brands and marketers. At the same time, it illustrates how the disruption caused to traditional business models has not yet peaked
Sometimes it is easy for those of us in the online marketing industry to lose perspective but this report brought home to me just how much change is still to come in five areas: campaign accountability, customer touchpoints, digitized TV, local e-commerce and brand engagement.
Let’s take them one at a time:
- Digital Advertising Becoming More Accountable
Major brands are still transitioning ad dollars online, a trend that shows no sign of slowing. Last year 4.8 trillion display ad impressions were delivered in the U.S. That’s 4,800,000,000,000 for those, like me, that appreciate the visceral impact of lots of zeros.
And more and more advertisers are buying 1 billion impressions or more; over 150 advertisers did so in 2011.
The evolution of the display ad marketplace comes as new creative units, retargeting and the rise of social platforms like Facebook – which served 27% of display ads last year – creates greater need for insightful metrics, transparency and accountability. This should position performance marketers well provided we can address the problems of perception that still beset our industry.
- Mobile Devices = More Customer Touchpoints
In December 2011 no less than 28 million users accessed online retail information on their smartphones. Mobile devices are going to change the retail industry in ways that we can not yet imagine but several things are clear. E-payments, local search and mobile relevant coupons are going to be huge drivers of success. Once again, this bodes well for the performance marketing sector, but it means that those companies who are able to invest in technology will be best positioned to win.
- E-Commerce Shows Double-Digit Growth
In the depths of the worst recession in living memory, e-commerce grew 12% last year driven by daily deals, digital content and downloads, and the increase in online coupon campaigns. The holiday season naturally played a big part in this growth but the lessons learned about what works – “Free Shipping” is an obvious example – will carry forward. Add in the contribution of tablet computers to the digital content sector and e-commerce is set for continual growth. Affiliate marketers have a real opportunity providing they can compete with the major publishers.
- Video Changes Everything
By the end of 2011 Americans were watching over 40 billion online videos a month, a trend that will only accelerate as TV is digitized. Half of those were watched on YouTube with more than 20-times as many views as the next largest destinations such as VEVO, Hulu and Netflix. The number of video ads served only increased by about 20% last year – less than I would have expected – but as the average length of videos watched increases (up from 5.0 to 5.8 minutes in 2011) the opportunities to place ads will increase. The bottom line: video is already massive but is still in its infancy. there is so much opportunity here.
- Social Media Drives Engagement
Google+ has gained 20.7 million U.S. visitors in six months. Tumblr has 18.8 million. Pinterest has 8 million. These are early success stories and show just how a good idea can go viral and scale remarkably quickly. Not only that, but visitor engagement for these sites is massive too. Tumblr’s visitors spend an average of 151 minutes a month on the site, Pinterest’s spend 80, putting both sites into the top 3 for visitor engagement.
comScore’s report is one of the better ones. I recommend you read the whole thing. Download it here.