Four digital advertising trends to watch in 2012

Last week, comScore Canada presented “trends to keep an eye on” at the nextMEDIA conference inWoman looking through binoculars Toronto. As a follow-up, I spoke with Bryan Segal, VP at comScore Canada to get his perspective on what key digital advertising themes will be noteworthy in 2012.

Segal proposed four key trends to watch including: the increasing value of social media, video branding opportunities, the “perfect storm” for mobile advertising, and improvements in online advertising delivery and measurement. Here’s a deeper look at each of those themes:

1. The increasing value of social media

Segal says that while “some argue that social media growth is reaching a plateau, it is still growing two times faster than general Internet usage. In addition, Canadians are extremely active social networkers.”

comScore recently conducted a study entitled “The Power of Like.” The results showed that fans of brands, and friends fans, are much more likely to visit a brand’s website more frequently, purchase more items from that brand and more. comScore looked at fans and friends of fans for and found that these people searched significantly more on the search engine versus the general Internet population. Segal suggests that “the pieces are in place now for significant growth of brand advertising impact on the web.”

2. Online video and branding opportunities

According to Segal, of the $150 billion being spent in advertising in the US, 51 per cent is being spent on traditional branding initiatives (i.e. via Television, radio, print, etc.). “However, when you look at online advertising, dollars spent on branding is much smaller,” says Segal. “The majority of online advertising dollars still go to direct response ad buys.”

Canadians continue to be world leaders in online video usage. As a result, Segal argues that “with online video, advertisers have the opportunity to shift more branding dollars online.” comScore recently conducted a local study with the Television Bureau of Canada and found that 29 per cent of people are cross-platform viewers, while 6 per cent are online-only viewers. And 71per cent of those cross-platform viewers go online because they missed an episode on TV. “Advertisers need to realize that online is a compliment to traditional TV buys,” says Segal. “Currently the Internet accounts for 23 to 25 per cent of all time spent online, yet advertisers still only spend about 14 per cent of their advertising dollars online. We’ll see this shift over time.”

3. The “perfect storm” is coming for mobile advertising

“Currently, smartphones account for roughly 40 per cent of the Canadian mobile phone market,” says Segal. And Canadians tend to hold onto their devices longer than any other country. Currently, Canadians do fewer activities on their phones (like social networking) than other countries where there is a higher penetration of smartphone usage. For instance, 28 per cent of Canadians currently access social networking services on their mobile phones. In the UK, that number is closer to 35 per cent. Yet, as web and app usage becomes more frequent on mobile phones in Canada, mobile advertising will become more prominent as well. “In the next 18 months, smartphone usage in Canada will increase drastically and pave the way for a huge opportunity for more content consumption and advertising opportunities,” says Segal.

4. Improvements in online advertising delivery and measurement

Segal believes that as the web matures, our opportunities to use the power of interactivity to increase storytelling and brand advertising will expand. “We’ll see better environments and better ad formats emerge that will ultimately lead to better brand response by consumers online,” says Segal.

comScore is working with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and other organizations to reduce the complexity of the advertising ecosystem and validate that ads are actually being seen by the right audience at the right time. “We are working on a new metric called a vGRP (validated gross rating point) which will bring more transparency to online advertising. The hope is that advertisers might be willing to pay a premium for validated online ads,” says Segal.

For digital marketing and media professionals who are interested in becoming certified as comScore power users, the company has launched a new “comScore Academy.” Courses will focus on “best practices for using comScore online analytics and measurement data to tell interesting stories that are actionable and tangible,” says Segal. comScore will host a number of education sessions in 2012, including a session at the DX3 conference in Toronto on January 24 to 25 in the New Year. 

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Andrea Wahbe

Andrea Wahbe

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who has contributed to the growth of online media businesses in Canada, such as AOL and Google. By day, Andrea writes about digital media and marketing trends and tips for Canadian startups and SMEs. By night, she’s an analog book reader, master swimmer and experimental chef.  more

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