Over the last year, like every year prior, online marketers have witnessed an incremental growth in digital advertising spend and a rapid adoption of new technology.
In 2012, we saw the introduction of Product Listing Ads as Google shifted to a pay-to-play model for shopping. Facebook began testing every ad format under the sun, with Sponsored Stories and mobile placement targeting gaining immediate traction. And who can ignore the advancements made across the Google Display Network (GDN), as more granular targeting options are paving the way for remarketing?
With 2012 behind us, it’s time to look forward into 2013 and make four predictions about where digital advertising is going next.
1. Integrated User Feedback
Integrated user feedback will be adopted across more ad formats. One thing we learned in 2012 is that there’s revenue to be acquired in every facet of online activity. As a result, advertisers have started to creep into nearly every aspect of a user’s online experience. Maintaining a positive relationship between advertisers and users has become a greater challenge now more than ever before.
Learning from user feedback and utilizing it to improve the overall ad experience will be a focus in 2013. Both Google, which allows users to “mute” ads across the GDN, and Facebook, which allows users to “X” ads, are currently leveraging this concept in a limited capacity to improve the advertiser and user experience.
This data will undoubtedly make its way into ranking algorithms and publisher reports. The ability for online marketers to optimize their programs based on this aggregated data will add a new dimension to digital advertising, enabling communication between advertisers and users to create a richer, more engaging ad experience.
2. The Individual User Experience
The individual user experience will become the new audience targeting. With so much investment in audience targeting in 2012 — as evidenced by Google’s investment in the GDN and Facebook’s introduction of custom audiences — 2013 will feature optimization of the ad experience for individual users.
Leveraging cookie-based tracking and importing contact lists have taken online marketers to the doorstep of online users. To get through, publishers will need to work with advertisers in leveraging the always-on profile. Google has the capacity today, with a growing number of searches occurring while users are logged into Gmail or Google+. And, as Facebook continues to integrate the concept of a single sign-on (SSO) across mobile applications and websites, publishers will have a vast amount of user data for advertisers to leverage for optimization.
But, the future will consist of more than simply ad targeting based on a user profile; in 2013, we will see advertisers learning from a user to improve his or her individual ad experience. The concept is grounded in individual click-through rate (CTR) rather than audience CTR. For example, if Joe doesn’t click on specific types of ads or engage with particular brands, publishers as well as advertisers will begin to adapt to this behavior and display ads that have a higher propensity to be clicked on by that individual user. It’s a win-win-win situation.
3. “One-Click” Shopping
One-click shopping is the new reality that all online retailers should embrace in 2013. Every year, over the last half decade, the adoption of mobile devices has grown at an incredible pace. With more transactions occurring via smartphones and tablets, there will be a growing demand to simplify the way customers make online purchases.
Purchases made in the cloud require a wallet that’s accessible in the cloud. Amazon patented the “1-Click” purchase and other retailers will increasingly look for ways to deliver a similar experience.
On smaller screens and virtual or tiny keyboards, you’d be hard pressed to find a customer who enjoys filling out credit card, shipping and billing information each time they make an online purchase. Google Wallet and PayPal have created a simplified purchase experience, but retailers have yet to universally adopt these services to the benefit of their customers. This will change in 2013.
As these services mature, virtual wallets will “learn” about the purchase behavior of customers across retailers. If online marketers were somehow allowed access to this data, there could be a significant change to the way they approach the retail landscape. However, due to existing privacy laws, we’ll keep this prediction in our back pocket for now.
4. Siri Will Make A Breakthrough
Siri will cash in on digital advertising. The idea has already begun to take shape (here and here). In fact, if 2012 has taught online marketers anything, it’s that companies will learn from their users, invest time and resources, and adapt their services to monetize their business.
Consider Twitter’s sponsored tweets and Facebook’s extensive array of ad types. With a growing percentage of searches occurring through Siri, Apple will look for ways to monetize it, and advertisers will capitalize on the opportunity. Google Voice, which is used on most Android smartphones, accomplishes this today as spoken words are translated into Web searches that include ads.
Considering that many of the Siri queries are local, there’s an incredible opportunity for Apple to place local ads in front of users as they search for information. Though a spoken search query requires a different ad experience than a typed one, getting advertisers into this market will prove rewarding.
Whether it’s highlighting businesses on a map for a voice search on auto repair shops or sponsoring an answer for generic information with a particular brand, Apple’s technology must evolve to capitalize on this revenue opportunity. Though the concept appears farfetched, if executed with the user in mind, online marketers and their budgets are sure to follow Apple into this uncharted terrain.
Sponsor a movie on opening weekend
Looking forward into 2013, it’s clear that two things will occur in the digital advertising landscape. The technology for pairing online marketers and their ads with engaged users will continue to advance, and online marketers will continue allocating more discretionary spend towards these new forms of digital advertising.
Regardless of whether or not these four predictions come to fruition, online marketers must be agile and embrace new strategies and technology for driving more media and acquiring more revenue in 2013.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.