The 2011 Digital Advertising Landscape

Read our “6 Predictions for Digital Advertising in 2011” on Mashable.

As we continue deeper into a recession, we will see more deal-based advertising. Groupon and LivingSocial were right to make those inroads early. Sites like Gilt Groupe and PLNDR are being really innovative with their sales strategy, and it’s paying off for them.

Location-based advertising was big in 2010, and it will get even bigger in 2011 as Facebook expands the technology behind its location platform Places. Mobile advertising is of course the larger trend associated with location-based advertising, and it’s also a hot trend.

We can always hope for more smarter and better Google, Twitter and Facebook ad units. Social ads are really exciting, and they have never before been possible. What comes with it is smarter and better metrics.

Last year, we saw some advertisements online that allowed you to click Facebook Connect and suck your permission-based info into a video ad to create a powerful experience. This is in the dynamic ad space that still uses the upload photo trick to get custom content within an ad. I personally find this super interesting and predict we will see more of it for sure in 2011 and beyond.

TV is going to get really exciting for advertisers as well. If you think about it, we haven’t had any good innovations in TV for a long time. With Google and Apple entering the TV market, it will be a great chance for new ad units to be created and tested. If you remember back when Gmail came out and people were flipping out about how the ads next to their emails were related to their emails content, we might have a similar moment with TV ads. In the next few years, we will also start to see better, more powerful remote controls. Perhaps we will see a Facebook “Like” button on TV remotes in the future? Imagine.

Facebook “Like” walls was a big trend this last year. We will see better and smarter strategies around limiting exclusive content on a Facebook page to entice users to click the “Like” button. The trick is turning your customers into fans on the first view of your Facebook page. Most big brands are making a Facebook “Like” box the most prominent thing on their reveal tab for new visitors who haven’t “Liked” the page yet. Another trend we are seeing the big advertisers use is creating an incentive for the customer to become a fan. Exclusive content access is a typical strategy, but we have seen some pretty good ones this year and will continue to see more in 2011. This trend is not without controversy of course, and if you are spending $$$ on Facebook advertising, you can have an official Facebook account person validate your techniques. Our soldier in arms, Matty Mo, coined the term “Reveal Tab”, but I like the term “Like Wall”, because it’s more accurate than referring to it as a tab. A tab is something a user can get to when they want, a wall is something more urgent and alarming frankly.

Facebook “Likes” have become quite valuable this last year and will continue to be the metric marketing departments are judged on. Think about smart ways to drive traffic to your social network presences by promoting your Facebook presence via HTML emails. A trend for 2011 is sending HTML emails driving traffic to Facebook. You can’t “Like” something from an email, but that hasn’t stopped people from using the image of a “Like” to get you to click on a veiled “AddThis” widget. I also like the more unique uses of the “Like” as a metric of popularity. For instance, Urban Outfitters has a page ranking their products by Facebook “Likes”.

As Facebook becomes the front line of a brand, and the image used as the avatar become more important. For instance the image can be tall, designs can blend in (see LeBron James’ Facebook page) and the “Like” wall can be integrated like we see in the LeBron page.

Sponsored content is a great trend that the internet has added great new potential to. Brands that are already in good standing with their customers will find great results with new ways to buy content that their customers care about. We will see more pages like Skittles that would seem to employ comedy writers to keep the content fresh. It would seem that “A Brand’s Best Bet in Social Media Is Randomness.”

Utility is a recession enabled trend. As people have less money, they rely on advertisers to provide things they can survive better with. Obviously coupons is one way of doing this, but providing supplies kids can use around school time, or wrapping paper that can used around the holidays, etc. I think to some extent the comedy you see on the Skittles Facebook page is also utility — by cutting to the chase and providing humor.

Donations are a great new trend we are seeing. From donate your status on Facebook, tweeting to sign a petition, to other more involved forms of engagement. Farmville has done some exciting promotions this year and we will definitely see lots more like this. Farmville had a very successful promotion that allowed the game users to plant virtual seeds in their farm, and then donate the crops to Haiti-related charities.

Giving the user control of options is a great trend that’s here to stay. If you look at how is setup, I think that says a lot for where we are going. Provide a ton of great relevant content, but allow the user to have as much control as possible.

Visual simplicity means a lot of things. Simplicity can mean that a company is trustworthy. It can mean a company is smart about spending their money, because they don’t need to waste money on pretty images to sell products. I think another factor is companies that look to be spending lots of money are under more and more scrutiny.

Facebook fan acquisition is an emerging trend we saw in 2010. The idea of optimizing the process of securing brand page “Likes” is here to stay. Using A/B testing and optimization techniques, agencies are raising the Facebook fan page numbers for mega brands. I have found that clients just want the numbers to go up. One of the draw backs to this industry trend is the fans one acquires can be low-quality or even irrelevant to the brands ideal target audience.

Influencers are more important when the market is in a recession. If you think about it, people spend longer making purchase decisions and in the process listen to more voices along the way. Services like Klout have come out this last year and created an official layer of social credibility. Klout scores are for instance being used by The Palms Hotel in Vegas to gauge discounts. At The Palms “The Klout Klub,” which “will allow high-ranking influencers to experience Palms’ impressive set of amenities in hopes that these influencers will want to communicate their positive experience to their followers.” Creating thoughtful ways to leverage your influencers is the thing to focus on. People have always said, its cheaper to keep and please the customers you have, than acquire new ones.

Madison Avenue meets Silicon Valley. It used to be the coolest job in advertising was working for an agency. These days working at Google, Facebook, etc has become the dream job of the advertising industry. I think this is good, as we move from disposable online campaigns to robust long term digital campaigns.

Private groups is a trend from the end of 2010 that will continue into 2011. Path has shown us the potential to limiting our social networks to 50 people. Facebook Groups has allowed us to turn Facebook into a meeting room for the long tail of groups we have in our lives. Fast Society is a new iPhone communication service that allows the user to create small groups to text with on the fly, and the groups last for 3 days. Something to consider is the mix or intimacy and urgency.

MySpace is totally the underdog, but in typical underdog fashion, they are fighting to the death. Under the great Mike Jones’s new administration it might be possible to salvage what is an incredible opportunity. The Facebook experience is quite cold, and to be specific — monochromatic. Facebook is two colors, blue and grey (and white doesn’t count). Facebook can get boring, the new MySpace is actually really bright and exciting. MySpace is doing things that Facebook has chosen to never do. I think Facebook suffers from Googlitis and thinks that everything needs to be devoid of design. People think that because Yahoo! and AOL were the platforms with life, and Google and Facebook are the more surgical alternative. MySpace has bright life and tons of potential in 2011. It will be interesting to see what MySpace offers to stay relevant with the main user base, as well as pandering even more to the musician market. I always think about how the difference between MySpace and Facebook is that MySpace has tons of cash and a defined direction, and perhaps Facebook is a bit of a bubble? Something to think about.

LinkedIn is an interesting brand to watch for advertisers. The integrity of its users is way undervalued. One tip is the new “share to LinkedIn” widget. Think about this next to Twitter, Facebook and depending on the site in question, MySpace and Digg.

SlideShare is doing some really exciting things with their platform offerings. You can buy the “featured presentation” or “presentation of the day” for $399 a day and $999 a day respectively. Brands can negotiate with smaller platforms for things Facebook and Twitter won’t do for you, things like customizing the layout of the page in YouTube style. The featured accounts are a great value allowing you to customize the background of the page and add a header to your presentation detail pages. A trend for 2011 will be brands use of SlideShare as a content focused social network.

Quora is a question and answer community, not unlike Yahoo! Answers, or LinkedIn Answers. These sites remind advertisers of the importance of PR. The line between PR and advertising has never been so close. And on this same trend we have seen sites like Get Satisfaction emerge as well. Get Satisfaction allows users to rant and rate on business all over the world. It is kind of like an even more UGC version of Yelp.

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