Digital Marketing Trends to Capitalize On
Digital media spending is at an all-time high, fueled by search, social media and mobile. Even banner advertising is back -- but not just on the Web. Banners are showing up in movies, games, instant message sessions and even video-enabled cell phones -- with contextual and behavioral targeting as primary drivers. How does a marketer know where an online ad will deliver its best value or what creative will deliver best in conversions?
While companies across verticals want to use digital media, most are cautious and often unsure of what seems like complicated new media. Trying new advertising strategies can be managed through a balanced, well-thought-out digital media plan.
Three questions drive every online media plan: What is the campaign goal (branding vs. lead generation)? Who is the target? Where is the target online? In addition, new and important questions have emerged: How is the target engaged online? And by what means is the target most effectively engaged?
When it comes to online advertising, banners are not dead. Rich media banners deliver an average 3 percent clickthrough, and media buy revenue remains at an all-time high. While run of network is dead or dying, targeted advertising online -- with myriad venues evolving and maturing -- is alive and kicking.
Testing digital media
There are various types of digital media that are just getting started that marketers can test to determine if they are cost-effective choices.
- According to Yahoo, its site attracts more than 500 million unique users monthly. Following closely behind is MSN, with more than 465 million users every month, according to Microsoft.
- MySpace, which reportedly has 125 million registered users, allows marketers to offer ringtones, cell phone wallpaper and downloads.
- In-game advertising, which includes advertising inside computer and video games, is growing rapidly.
- According to its parent company Linden Lab, Second Life has almost 14 million residents. Through an experiential medium, brands can demonstrate new products, build word of mouth and receive fast feedback.
- Mobile advertising is gaining in popularity. Here, relevancy (as well as permission) is key, and the message is more important than the medium. It's of critical importance to follow the rules regarding opting in and privacy.
- Video advertising, such as through YouTube, has been limited to banners. In 2007, however, YouTube announced it would include video ads between user video spots. Here relevant, interesting commercials can work well.
- Co-registration -- the collection of leads through contests, coupons, surveys and giveaways -- generates leads that are generally inexpensive and extremely targeted.
- Shopping reward sites allow brands to market incentives through content delivery, affinity partnerships or affiliate marketing. Marketers can offer coupons, free items and memberships.
- Affiliate marketing allows affiliates to do marketing for you.
- Online communities of people who collect free things and who are looking for deals are the draw of freebie sites.
- Word-of-mouth advertising can be facilitated online by blogs, e-mail, text messaging, peer-to-peer networks and viral advertising.
It's possible to target customers online, using a variety of channels and techniques. As a rule of thumb, remember that rich media drives much higher response than static banners, and online interaction increases engagement. Sophisticated marketers will align channels to maximize response and exposure. They'll follow the rules related to privacy, learn what's working and what's not with respect to engagement, and test to determine what works for individual consumers. While the landscape is changing, with trends coming and going, at the end of the day it's still all about deploying time-tested direct marketing techniques.
Julie A. Donovan is vice president, digital practice for Harte-Hanks, a San Antonio, Tex.-based direct and targeted marketing company. Reach Julie at email@example.com.