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What’s Next in Digital Media? Answers from the Experts

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What’s Next in Digital Media? Answers from the Experts

Tablet-Question-Mark-213x300Digital media is transforming how marketers engage with customers and prospects. Whether you’re marketing to business executives or consumers, it’s critical to monitor the fast-changing digital media space.

So what’s on the horizon for digital media in 2012 and what does it mean to marketers?

Three marketing experts shared their forecasts last week at a program sponsored by the American Advertising Federation – Cleveland, Ohio. Adele Pellicane, Senior Director, Agency Services, Traffiq Inc., New York, Larry Weissman, Managing Director, Top Line Revenue, Inc., Atlanta, and Scott Chapin, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy, Marcus Thomas LLC, Cleveland, were panelists. Michael DeAloia, Partner at Emerging Chefs Cleveland, moderated for AAF-Cleveland.

Here’s what these digital media pros see in their crystal balls and some insights for using digital media in your smart marketing strategy.

What Digital Media is – and Why it Matters

Chapin defines digital media as “anything that’s driving traffic to digital content: Paid media, social media, or other media that drives traffic to a digital source.”

Marketers need to embrace digital media, says Weissman, because “it’s quickly becoming mainstream” and it’s reshaping the traditional sales funnel. “The sales funnel is now dramatically different and much more complex because of digital media,” he notes.

The Next Big Trend: Mobile + Social + Local

Last year’s big trend was mobile marketing, says Chapin. Advertisers spent over $1 billion in mobile marketing ads in 2011.

“What’s coming is the convergence of social, mobile, and local – that’s the hot trend right now,” he states. “Facebook and Google are both going in this direction. Every marketer’s goal is to figure out how to communicate their brand to customers when they’re on the go.”

Pellicane agrees. “The convergence of mobile, social, and local is the next big trend in digital media. It’s about the where and when. This will continue to grow, especially in the retail space,” she predicts. “It’s crucial for branding and driving sales.”

Weissman says local social media marketing platforms like foursquare are important to retail marketers, but “the local marketing space is extremely crowded and there’s a consolidation coming. Amazon and eBay are getting ready to launch these types of products. Foursquare will need to stay innovative to thrive in this environment.”

7 More Digital Media Trends to Watch

  1. Real-time engagement: Chapin sees marketers continuing to move people from traditional to digital media in real time via such tactics as QR codes. “Everybody’s trying to figure out ways to make this transition easy for people,” he says. Another example is the plan by Shazam, developers of the innovative iPhone and Android sound recognition apps, to link audio via tags from this year’s Super Bowl ads to advertisers’ websites, as recently reported in Adweek.
  2. QR codes: Though advertisers are rapidly adopting QR codes in marketing campaigns, panelists agreed that widespread use of QR codes by consumers won’t take hold until smart phones have built-in QR reader apps. “Using QR codes will grow exponentially when apps are pre-installed on smart phones,” Pellicane predicts.
  3. The power of video: “Mobile marketing plus video is a huge trend in general, but especially for tweens,” notes Weissman. “It’s how they consume media – and it’s not on the TV in the living room.”
  4. The growth of Google+: “Social is a huge part of Google’s strategy,” says Chapin. “It’s being integrated into nearly every Google product. Google+ will slowly gain in relevance and eventually we’ll be discussing it in the same vein as Facebook and Twitter.”
  5. Easier ways to influence others: “‘Share this’ buttons are creating digital versions of kitchen-table conversations between a few people and many people,” Weissman notes.
  6. Co-watching: Viewing a mobile device or tablet computer while watching television is a growing trend. “Marketers are trying to figure out how to integrate this and drive cross-device connectivity,” Chapin observes.
  7. Measurability: Weissman says new tools are on the horizon to measure audience access via the web, which may create a way to buy digital media based on gross rating points. “Marketers want the ability to measure and analyze a consumer’s path from traditional to digital, to track the user’s experience from end to end, such as from an app to a website,” Chapin explains.

Tips for Planning a Digital Media Strategy

How should you use digital media in a smart marketing strategy? Chapin recommends that marketers ask these questions to determine a digital media marketing plan:

  • Is your audience mobile? In most cases, the answer is an easy yes. Half of phone users now have smart phones, so penetration of smart phones in your market is probably a given.
  • What content do you have?  You need something to pay off a mobile marketing campaign, like a mobile website or app. “If you don’t have this, spend your money here first,” Chapin advises. “Mobile users have even shorter attention spans than web users, one second instead of five. You must answer the user’s question instantly.”
  • When and where is your audience? A mobile user can be literally anywhere in the world. Figure out the mobile usage patterns of your audience and connect to them then and there. “For example, during the week, Google Maps users are on desktop computers. On the weekend, they’re on phones,” Chapin notes.
  • Can you do geo-targeting to a specific local market and near a retail outlet?

Pellicane advises marketing agencies and consultants to focus digital media marketing strategies on goals and metrics. “Don’t get hung up on the ‘shiny new object’ syndrome just to show your clients you can do it,” she explains. “Ask yourself, ‘what’s the goal of the marketing campaign and what metrics will be used to measure success?’ Do you want to build community? Drive sales? That will drive the decisions about devices and tactics in digital media.”

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