This year has seen online marketers focus on the demands and interests of consumers by following them into new areas of the web such as video, social media and the mobile.
In addition, advertisers have benefited from a more open competitive landscape of online providers, making it easier to address audience needs and improve their experiences.
As web users become more sophisticated, online advertising has also had to evolve in order to build and retain consumer engagement. When it comes to video advertising, it is no longer enough to simply place a banner next to a video and expect the audience to engage.
Regular video usage in Europe increased by 80% between September 2006 and April 2007 (Jupiter Research), and media owners have this year been challenged with finding more innovative ways to integrate brands into video content and take advantage of the massive growth in this medium. Likewise, this year search marketing also took huge leaps in enabling advertisers to take advantage of the fact that, on a typical day, 19 million people will go online to find out more about a product, according to IDC Research.
The competitive landscape available to advertisers opened up dramatically, which only served to improve the consumer experience. Both MSN and Ask.com conducted aggressive online and offline campaigns to promote the benefits of their own search platforms.
However, the biggest impact on advertisers directly was the launch of Yahoo!’s Panama platform, which now provides a viable alternative to Google. Panama will also enable further development in search marketing throughout 2008 – and Panama for mobile will be one of the first of these to look out for.
In addition, new technologies from Ask.com and Yahoo! are beginning to offer blended search results, with images, audio, video, social media and traditional text results becoming increasingly useful.
Such innovation has also been seen on the mobile platform, as mobile advertising increasingly becomes a useful way of reaching consumers directly. Market research estimates the market at $1.4 billion today but predicts it will rise to anywhere between $11.3 billion and $19 billion by 2011 (Strategy Analytics and ABI Research).
Mobile advertising has become increasingly attractive to advertisers now that operators are starting to offer unlimited Internet packages.
Advertisers and mobile operators are looking to maximise this captive audience and are working together to develop the industry by creating advertising formats that make it easier to create campaigns for the mobile. In 2008, industry standards will continue to develop and be taken on by the important players in the industry.
The continuing rise of social media as an engaging online marketing channel has also provided media owners and advertisers with both opportunity and challenges in 2007. Social media has demonstrated that it is critical for advertisers to ensure advertising and branding is provided as relevant content. Marketing within social media is a two-way relationship and is about building a relationship and conversation with your audience. Ultimately, it is a matter of marrying compelling content with equally relevant advertising.
Finally, as these new phenomena, technologies and platforms continue to evolve throughout 2008, so will our ability to target specific communities. Media owners will introduce more categories of behaviours, which in turn will allow advertisers to connect with even more relevant audiences and generate better results.
Armed with clear, defined audiences and the tools that have emerged this year, 2008 will likely see the online advertising industry work together more as evidenced by the partnerships between Yahoo! and both Bebo and Vodafone this year.
These partnerships will become more important to advertisers as they allow them to turn to one source and take advantage of the insights of all the players within that network to achieve maximum impact from their campaigns.
Laila Dhalen is vice-president of marketplace for Yahoo! Europe