The Future of Advertising? Targeted Ads, as far as the eye can see.

Whether on mobile, social, advertiser networks (e.g. Google Display Network), or video platforms (notably Youtube & Hulu), advertisers have never before been able to so time- and cost-efficiently deliver text, image and multimedia ads to precisely targeted groups of potential customers. And while the industry is buzzing with talk of DSPs and advanced attribution tools’ rapid evolution, the reality for most B2B Marketers is more quotidian: allocating resources and determining metrics to measure.

A few of us sat down with some Peet’s and spoke with Forrester Research’s Principal Analyst for Interactive Marketing, Shar VonBoskirk, to see what’s in HER crystal ball:



Shar emphasized that enthusiasm for Display is surging, as improved targeting, automated bidding and measurement have all matured.  As an added plus, innovation in the ad platform space has made available new swaths of niche and remnant inventory.  That said, there’s still a lot of room for improvement in multi-channel attribution, especially where display is concerned.

Overall, interactive marketing is projected to command an increasing share of overall ad spend, from 16% to 26%: By 2016, advertisers may spend as much on interactive marketing as they do on television advertising today.  Ah yes, television, that thing I use when every laptop and ipad in the house is being used for gaming, Netflix and HBO GO.

Social Media is the fastest growing segment, but a closer look at the projections suggest a marked deceleration. Not to mention the opaque reporting. questionable ROI and social media stress syndrome(quick, get on Pinterest!  No wait, now there’s So.cl!) In fact, while all 5 types of interactive marketing are projected to grow strongly over the next 5 years, the highest fliers (social and mobile) are likely to decelerate the most.

More to the point, social and mobile are rising from such a small base, that even with rapid growth, they are not poised to replace display or search, just supplement them as the pie grows.  To put this another way, Social ad spend is now 8% as large as Search Marketing, and in 2016 it’s forecast to be almost twice that, at 15%.  And while Display is the surprising rags to riches story, Search commands 170% of Display’s ad spend, and in far off 2016 it will still be 120% of Display.  Honestly, the horse race analogy is a bit tiresome, as it’s not one channel vs another…

It’s nothing new to seek an integrated marketing mix, but the channels themselves have started to blur.  Search and social are no longer separate realms (see Bing’s new Facebook sidebar, or Google+’s disproportionate effect on Google Rankings). Google’s new contextual keyword targeting brings the precision of paid search to the realm of display.  Social media actions are sometimes the desired conversion in Email marketing.  And Display(GDN), mobile (Admob) and search marketing (Adwords) can all be administered from a single dashboard. It’s a brave new world.