Great results for digital can’t mean complacency

If the online ad industry was in need of any kind of boost for 2010, then the Bellwether and Kingston Smith report couldn’t have been better timed. Both painted glowing pictures for the thriving digital marketing world. Yet, beneath the positivity lies a timely reminder that digital still needs to advance, in order to grow.

Joe Fernandez

The industry has been growing at a rapid rate, alongside revolutionary technology advances, with no signs of a slowdown. Core to any future success will be proof of digital’s worth – the old mantra for return on investment has never been more critical.

What has changed is just what classifies as ROI now. Yes, for most companies the important overall goal is to hear the sounds of tills ringing by all means necessary – but more importantly is how they get there most effectively.

Here’s where digital fits in and what some parts of the marketplace still need an education on. But it’s critical that the education is there so that doubters can better understand what the benefits of using interactivity are.

All the buzzwords floating around right now: augmented reality, apps, in-game, display, SEM, Tweetdeck, microsites etc all mean very little to the ordinary person. As one of the news stories below shows, not many are using mobiles to surf the internet because they don’t understand it. Those who do access mobile web use social media for social purposes.

According to Andy Viner, head of media at accountancy network BDO: “Companies are rethinking their marketing allocation, which means that areas such as online advertising are expected to grow significantly.”

The Society of Digital Agencies’ 2010 Digital Marketing Outlook also believes the future for the industry is “exceptionally bright” because “the next generation of digital is upon us.”

I have no doubt that digital will continue to grow. User figures on Facebook, Twitter and Apple’s AppStore are representative of the booming interest in the medium.

However, what will become important to fuel this growth is a much more highly personalised and engaging service. It has to be a surety that there is genuine interaction with a brand that is well targeted, relevant and above all open to consumer participation that creates and strengthens the relationship between brand and consumer.

I eagerly await the next Bellwether report to see if digital continues to buck trends with increases in online budgets, or if the predicted advertising recoveries begin to shift back the allocations that digital receives to the traditional media as it was pre-recession.

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