New Year’s Evolution: What Does 2009 Hold for New Media?
The digital media sector has been one of the few bright lights in wider economic gloom. With mixed messages as to the level of investment in online marketing next year, New Media Knowledge spoke to various sector players to gauge their thoughts.
The new media outlook for 2009 varies dramatically, from the optimistic to the more cautious. NMK spoke to a number of industry specialists from differing digital fields to see what they thought 2009 would bring for the industry.
The Digital Marketer
James Cherkoff heads up digital marketing outfit Collaborate Marketing. He’s expecting slashed client expenditure as budgets – often currently set at 2007 levels – are reassessed, and measurement and return on investment come under increased scrutiny.
“Corporate profitability has gone through the floor this year and that will be reflected in marketing budgets for the next two years or more,” he said. “Obviously, brands still need to go to market. And my guess is that 2009 will be the year that we stop talking about digital versus traditional because the number one demand from clients will be for agencies to blend all techniques available. [This] could mean significant consolidation across the marketing services sector - but also with the technology sector. Microsoft to buy ITV, anyone?”
The Digital Advertiser
Donald Hamilton is UK managing director of behavioural targeting specialist Wunderloop. He believes next year will be good for consumers as advertisers abandon “lazy industry practices”, such as blanket advertising.
“As advertisers come under greater pressure to make every penny count, their ability to understand consumers, analyse online journeys and serve ads that increase return on investment will play a central role in all campaigns,” he told NMK.
“2009 will see advertisers and agencies educating themselves on all things digital so they can understand the tools which will allow them to distribute the right ads to the right people at the right time but, most importantly, at less expense. This provides the agency planners and buyers with a great opportunity in 2009 to reassert their position in the value chain,” he added.
Hamilton also believes that TV ad spend is actually likely to increase as advertisers balance their new digital strategies with tried and tested campaigns on mediums with proven return on investment.
The Digital Recruiter
Bearing Partnership is a London-based digital recruiter and executive search company. Aryn Hurst-Clark, the company’s co-founder, says 2009 will be the year when organisations ask bigger questions of their e-commerce head and will still need to work hard to attract the top talent.
“Roles in e-commerce will continue to grow in relevance for companies next year as online sales keep on rising and general consumer confidence in the channel grows,” he said. “Digital media will also benefit from the ‘lipstick effect’, where both home entertainment and small consumer ‘treats’ always do well in times of recession. These trends will continue to create demand for exceptional and experienced digital professionals.”
Hurst-Clark added that next year he will also be studying if heads of e-commerce are hitting what he called a “digital glass ceiling”, where e-commerce and digital media professionals may see their role morph into a more general position within a traditional business.
“As the market matures, digital professionals will be looking to see where their careers can progress to or if digital is a ‘career cul-de-sac’. If your rise to managing director or board level is inhibited by an individual’s choice of specialising in digital, this will have wider implications for ambitious individuals entering the market,” he warned.
The Digital PR Professional
Jennifer Janson is managing director at PR agency Six Degrees and she believes social media is going to become increasingly important to media communications professionals in 2009.
“[Next year] the shift away from the 'broadcast' model of PR to one-to-one will continue. With the advent of social media, direct communication with your target audience is more achievable now than ever before,” she said. “The rapid growth of social media will result in companies having less control over their communications. Even though they themselves might not be actively engaging with social media, you can bet that their employees are, and many will create a link back to the company, if only to reference where they work. Understanding how to make the most of your staff as brand ambassadors will be critical in the coming years. It's about engaging though, not controlling.”
The Online Lead Generator
Simon Wajcenberg is CEO of online lead generation specialist Clash-Media and he expects performance-based marketing to come to the fore next year as marketing managers seek maximum control over their budgets.
“Web sales are becoming far more important as high-street spend declines and more companies are realising that they need to invest in new ways to make their brand as visible as possible,” according to Wajcenberg. “By using methods such as Proactive Online Lead Generation (OLG), companies can reach their target audience and gather thousands of hot consumer leads with one online campaign.”
Collaborate Marketing’s Cherkoff is cautiously optimistic for digital in 2009 and even predicts a few surprises could be in store for the sector.
“One of the big social networking sites could have an Adwords moment and find a way to make money - but it may not be an English-speaking site. Or as cloud services such as Google's App Engine drive the cost of storage and bandwidth towards zero, it becomes more likely that something entirely new will appear,” he concluded. “After all, four years ago the world didn't have YouTube.”