Top 5 digital trends to watch in 2015

Top 5 Digital Trends to Watch in 2015

Steve Hartman
Digital Advertising Manager
RiverTown Multimedia

Every year brings a new list. A list of resolutions, a list of projects, a list of best music videos of 2014. The advertising world is no different. In the spirit of lists I’ve come up with my Top  5 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2015.

1. The New World of Television

TV is going through changes today like never before. My previous prediction was by the end of 2015 most, if not all, TV channels would be paid for a la carte. I might move that prediction to June 2015. CBS & ESPN are two of the biggest programmers to allow their service to be bought and streamed online. Many viewers kept paying their outrageous satellite and cable bills simply for the allure of live sports. Other programs can always be found on demand. However, live sports could not. With the recent news of ESPN and Dish Network’s agreement to stream the network for $20 per month, live sports are now being opened up to the free market of pay-per-view. Viewers will no longer have to purchase entire packages of channels to watch their 5 favorite channels. TV stations, programs and networks are now realizing viewers want to tune in when it’s convenient, and if you’re only offering one time per week, through the television or DVR, you’re missing the mark. The rise of Netflix, Roku, Apple TV, and the new Amazon FireTV have created a whole new world of program viewing. Pretty soon start-ups will be able to distribute their original program online, much like musicians can deliver their music to the masses through iTunes. 2015 is a game-changing year for TV viewing habits.

2. Programmatic Advertising Reaches All Mediums

With topic #1 comes a new way to sell advertising to viewers. Digital web advertising has been perfecting the art of programmatic advertising, which is selling ads to an audience based on scale and using algorithms and auctions to buy/sell ad space. This has also been utilized for digital video in the form of pre-roll ads (the ads you see before the video content plays). But with more and more TV programs being streamed and moved online programmatic TV ads will begin to grow. Whether a program delivers on a TV or streamed through a phone, it’s in the distributor’s best interest to simplify the ad delivery process. Fifteen-second pre-roll spots, which in theory are based on TV commercials, will rule the day. Buying and selling ad space for all programs will soon be programmatic. As, AdWeek says here there are good and bad to programmatic TV ad buying. Either way, it’s coming.

Updated 1/13/2015: Programmatic TV ad buying rings in 2015 on ESPN. Turbo Tax ran a :30 ad during the 1 a.m. SportsCenter.

3. Tracking & Measuring Multi-Screen Campaigns

As I’ve discussed, TV is rapidly moving into the digital world. Radio, with many forms of streaming available, is already there, as is digital display advertising on news websites. With this convergence comes a more reliable tracking and measuring opportunity. For years, marketers have known multi-screen campaigns, defined as campaigns that run across mobile, tablet, TV, and digital web at or around the same time, would become the norm. But measuring and monitoring the results to justify a spend hasn’t been so easy. Marketers have relied on single-medium tracking and glued the pieces of various reports together to show overall effectiveness of an ad campaign. However, with more components using digital and using programmatic or Real-Time Bidding, advertisers will have a more clear look into how a campaign performs across multiple screens. The importance of this type of advertising can be seen in Twitter phenomenons such as “Sharknado.” Users will watch a program and talk/read about it online. Marketers need to be seen when those conversations are being had. Powerful advertising can be accomplished by showing an ad, then following it up with users while they talk about events on another device. But the rubber meets the road when a marketer can measure their multi-screen campaign in one shot. What did the TV ad, promoted Tweet and request to answer trivia on Facebook really do? Right now we’re not there, but I believe we will soon have an answer.

4. Specialized Content for YOU!

The upcoming year will also see the growth and rise of an ongoing trend, user-optimized, or “personalized,” content. Websites want to provide users with content they deem important and reliable, whether it’s paid by a marketer, or free from a news source. Much like how advertising uses data and metrics, the news, information and content you absorb online will come from similar data. This concept is no longer just for Pandora listeners. As TV becomes digitized, we’re seeing Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others list “Others You May Like” categories. In TV viewing you have the ability to watch what you want, but what if there are programs out there you may like but you’ve never heard of them? With content catered to your needs, wants, and viewing habits you can continue watching, reading and interacting with content you’re inclined to watch. The “thumbs up/thumbs down” button on Pandora is only the beginning. All content will soon be personalized for us.

5. Searches Will Rise, but Spends Will Fall

Being at the top of a Search Engine used to be the most important factor in being noticed. But in 2015, searches are done on anything and everything. So many searches are done that to some degree, they become trivial. Savvy consumers now know where to find the information they need. Digital users only spend, on average, 4% of their online time using search. People are becoming more familiar with the results and the process. Very few people I know go to Google looking for a restaurant. They use Yelp!. If you’re looking for a plumber you go to Angie’s List. The cost for Google AdWords continues to rise with more players in the market. If you’re Joe’s Tire Shop, you are competing for AdWords with major national brands such as Tires Plus, Costco, etc. Their spending power is light-years ahead of a small, local business. Small businesses have to become more savvy and clever with their advertising budgets. In 2015, users trust review sites and their friends more than the results on Google. Typing in a business name will always retrieve the desired results, but searching for products or services in your area won’t necessarily bring you to the right business. Searches on YouTube for do-it-yourselfers, Yelp! for bars and restaurants, and Angie’s List for quality service businesses, will continue to rise. However, the dollars spent on Search Engines could be on the skids.

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