I was thinking about my blog last week and how the posts have been skewed to mobile and search lately and neither of these topics is my particular area of primary expertise. I have far more experience in display online advertising and email marketing. So I was wondering why I haven’t been writing about these topics and realised it’s because I’m not reading about them in the blogs, forums and websites that I refer to for information. So I starting wondering why these sites are not talking about email marketing and display advertising and I think it is because there is a perception that these channels of digital marketing are nolonger innovative. I myself even find myself thinking that, because like all digital marketers, I look forward and I am focused on the emerging channels and soaking up all that they have to teach me.

I wanted to demonstrate that these older forms of online advertising are still relevant and are still evolving and innovating. While mobile and social media might be growing and evolving at a faster rate in 2010 and 11, they do not replace or supersede the backbone of digital marketing – email, search and display advertising.

Then it hit me. I spent a year living in the Caribbean, scuba diving and teaching english, and I’ve been back in Sydney over a year now, (but working for a not-for-profit and doing very little online advertising – more technology and website product development) and so much has changed in the digital space in that 2 year period.

As my blog readers know, I do consulting work and while much of this centres around website development and search engine optimisation, I do still consult on digital media planning and buying. When reviewing some media plans for amaysim, I found myself having to research many of the elements of their digital media plan because I had never heard of them (not the mediap placements, but the publishers and sometimes the terminology).

So during the 2 years of 2009/2010 these are the things that I noticed changed, innovated and evolved within the digital media industry of Australia.

  • One of the most important changes was that Google bought Doubleclick – one of only 3 digital media tracking and adserving providers in Australia – this means that Doubleclick will change and evolve at a much faster rate
  • New media tracking is now in place – VPAID and VAST digital media tracking tags. Spotlight tags, action tags, post click or post view tags (whatever name you gave them, they were all the same, just different terminology between suppliers) were only penetrating the Sydney market in 2005/6 and were a huge learning curve for media and creative agencies and their clients as digital media was suddenly able to viably track conversions like never before. In 2008 fusion tracking was starting to assert itself, where it could de-dupe unique visitors between digital channels (allocating conversions by the channel that acquired the new customer, not necessarily the channel that managed the final conversion and also able to de-duplicate individuals who may be captured by both display banner advertising and a paid search ad)
  • Eyeblaster has improved tracking for video and rich media – terms like dwell time and dwell rate are now used to measure the actual engagement time a user has with a video ad. 8 seconds in now the official time a user is required to watch or interact with a video ad before it is counted as a video view
  • Behavioural targeting is actually in place, rather than just a supposed targeting option for advertisers. Digital Media publishers (such as Fairfax Digital, News Digital Media, Ad2One, Adconion) are now utilising cookies to track unique IP addresses that visit their sites, click on ads and then create pools of users based on their behaviour as they move around their network. Behavioural targeting is the secret to digital media success because it ensures you are talking to users who are receptive to your message because it is relevant to their lives. Behavioural targeting may cost more but there will be much less wastage in your media spend and should ensure higher conversions
  • The increase in using cookies to create cookie pools, means that advertisers are able to re-message their ads to users who may have dwelled on one of their rich media or video ads or clicked through but not completed to desired action. We can now identify this group of people and when they return to their favourite websites, within your advertising publishers’ network, we can re-message our ads to them. This increases the frequency that they see your ad and hopefully will increase their likelihood of taking action. Re-messaging of display advertising also reduces wastage and increases conversion rates
  • Like behavioural targeting, contextual advertising has become increasingly important. Aligning your product to like minded products, websites and online content, will increase the likelihood of the users in those areas finding your product and call to action relevant to their lives. You can also just call this good planning and vertical targeting, but there are times where one site may be considered contextually relevant to your product or target group even though they do not seem, on the surface, to be aligned. It may be about analysing the consideration cycle and how people think and search to get to a final decision (and therefore find your product)
  • There are new display advertising formats that have popped up – floating ads are an example. Excuse the pun 🙂
  • Social media has become a viable digital marketing and communications channel. One of the best examples is the rise of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is now officially the #2 job board in Australia, overtaking MyCareer.com.au and CareerOne.com.au. While social media is an excellent channel to interact with your existing customers, users and supporters, not many brands have made it a viable sales or conversion channel, but the jury is still out on this. It probably factors into the prospecting and consideration of the brand’s fans
  • Mobile is becoming increasingly important, local search seems to be making the biggest inroads so far but due to the prolific penetration of smartphones in Australia, it is undeniable that mobile will become a primary digital channel. This isn’t one to watch people, its a sure thing, its just a matter of time. My bet is on sooner, rather than later
  • And last but not least, the rise of the new digital media industry buzz words – my personal favourite (read: annoying) is bespoke. As far as I can ascertain, it means customised.

So that’s my observations about how the digital media and more specifically the display online advertising industry has continued to evolve and innovate in the past 2 years.

I’m sure I’ve missed dozens of things. Please tell me about other innovations in the Australian digital industry in the past couple of years.