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February 25, 2008

Avenue A Razorfish 2008 Digital Outlook Report

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Avenue A Razorfish released the 2008 Digital Outlook Report yesterday. The purpose of the report is to help Avenue A's clients understand consumer behavior in the digital space. In the report experts cover topics such as media spending, mobile web usage, social influence marketing, the state of search, and behavior targeting. Here are some tidbits from the report:

  • Vertical content properties and paid search were the biggest beneficiaries of the increase in spending. Verticals grew from a 37% share in 2006 to 39% in 2007. Increasingly, advertisers are showing a desire to work with a broader range of partners, as evidenced by the expansion of the number of sites the agency used in 2007. The majority of that expansion has occurred in the vertical category.

  • In difficult economic conditions, the most accountable marketing channels will be best insulated from cuts in spending. This clearly bodes well for online advertising relative to other channels. However, there will be an impact, even in the most efficient digital channel—search marketing. Search has become a powerful tool for shoppers, and in a recessionary environment, consumers will search, shop, and buy less frequently.

  • Only a few years ago, a Web site’s home page was the most prime piece of digital real estate a publisher could offer. Not so much today, however. The relevance of the home page as a media buy is on the wane. Search, social networks, blogs, and RSS (among a host of other online sources) are driving more and more users deep into today’s Web properties. Now, the majority of consumers bypass a site’s home page completely.

  • Every page is now a home page, each of which will have a wider reach, a lasting shelf life, and the ability to attract a new audience like never before. To capitalize on this, ensure that every page has a strong, clear global navigation scheme and related content that is visibly promoted. And don’t forget to make sure that display advertising gets prominent, above-the-fold, home-page-like treatment (300x250 rectangles and 728x90 leaderboards). Remember, every page can be accessed in any conceivable manner and in any conceivable order—you can’t design properties to control user flow anymore.

  • Despite user requests for a single mobile, PC, or gaming device to do everything, we found users increasingly willing to embrace multiple devices—even when those devices possess overlapping capabilities. For instance, a Nintendo Wii for the whimsical side of their gaming lives and an XBOX 360 for competition. A laptop for managing the business of life and another littered with stickers for fun. A smart phone for e-mail and a flip phone for weekends. We found users unwilling to make the compromises that come with an all-in-one while willing to embrace devices for different highly specialized aspects of their lives: “We bought my brother-in-law an iPhone specifically so we could get him to check his e-mail. Nothing else seemed to work.” (Laura, 26)

  • Consumers don’t see the Internet as something distinctly different from their offline worlds anymore, and they expect seamless transitions. Every key consumer activity has online and offline components—each one contributing to the total experience. The reason? Finally, the online world is getting more social, and as a result, more like the offline world.

  • In social media, marketers need to understand where their brands intersect with the passion points of their consumers. But ultimately, they need to empower consumers to express themselves via their connection to the brand. In most cases, brands can craft the framework of a campaign, but the customization of content and the dialogue around the campaign will be up to the consumer.

The report is stuffed with useful information and challenging thoughts that will change a thousand PowerPoint presentations. The material is so good that I'm surprised that the Avenue A folks are letting me post the report in its entirety, so download it before they change their minds. The person who manages the report is senior vice president Jeff Lanctot, and he has just started a blog that's worth checking out too.


PS: if you liked this posting and want to read "all the top stories" about social media, please check out this "single-page aggregation".

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