Monday, March 22, 2010

Tipping Points: Digital Ad Spending to Top Print in 2010. Facebook Overtakes Google.

In digital economy, everything’s a commodity except ideas.

In today’s wired world, the most important economic competition is actually between you and your own imagination, wrote New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman on Sunday. More on that in a minute.

Facebook Overtakes Google as most popular US Web site

Whether or not Facebook fits into your marketing plans, it’s important to note that the ubiquitous social network destination overtook Google as the nation’s most popular Web site according to a recent report by Hitwise. Checking Facebook accounted for more than seven percent of all Web visits, the report found. Studies show that the average American spends seven hours a month on the site and that 44 percent of all social sharing takes place on the platform. But as Online Metrics Insider pundit, Pat Lapointe recently noted, research from Keller Fay Group clearly shows that only about 10 percent of total word-of-mouth activity occurs online. Further, it establishes that in MOST categories (not all, but most), the online chatter is NOT representative of what is happening offline, at kitchen tables and office water coolers.

Digital advertising to eclipse print in 2010

While print advertising is expected to rebound slightly into positive territory, more and more signs are pointing to 2010 as the year that digital advertising officially surpasses print. Legacy media is one area that could certainly benefit from fresh ideas, or more to the point, executing on those fresh ideas. A new study from Outsell, a consulting and research group serving the information industry, recently released findings of its annual survey of over 1,000 U.S. advertisers and marketers. Altogether, U.S. advertisers and marketers plan to spend $368 billion in 2010, Outsell found -- up 1.2 percent from 2009. Within the 2010 figure, 32.5 percent ($119.6 billion) will go to digital, versus 30.3 percent ($111.5 billion) earmarked for print.

In another new study, Kantar Media found that print media in 2009 underperformed the entire industry as a whole, off 17.5% versus 12.3 percent, for the year and down 11.5% for the fourth quarter. B2B magazines particularly took it on the chin, down 26.2 percent for the year, versus a 16.6 percent for consumer magazines (which are down only three percent so far in 2010according to Media Industry Newsletter). As in previous years, print ad revenue declines will fall heaviest on newspapers -- with Outsell forecasting total ad revenues of $27 billion in 2010, down about eight percent from 2009. Outsell also sees revenue for print directories falling about eight percent to $11.6 billion. But it's not all bad news for print, as Outsell predicts a two percent increase in ad spending for magazines -- rising to $9.4 billion – reversing a several year long slump.

"The advertising recession began to ease in the final two months of 2009 and preliminary figures from the first quarter of 2010, when compared against the abyss of a year ago, indicate many sectors are experiencing growth," noted Jon Swallen, senior vice president of Research at Kantar Media in a company news release. As with other forecasters, Kantar says the best performing media category in 2009 was cable television -- losing just 1.4 percent for the entire year and up 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter. Network TV was down 7.6 percent for the year although it exceeded cable TV in the fourth quarter, up 4.1 percent.

Why ideas can’t be commoditized in the digital era

Today, just about everything is becoming a commodity, except imagination, except the ability to spark new ideas, New York Times pundit, Thomas Friedman notes: “If I get an idea, I can get a designer in Taiwan to design it. I can get a factory in China to product a prototype. I can get a factory in Viet Nam to mass manufacture it. I can use to handle fulfillment. I can use to find someone to my logo and manage my backroom. And I can do all of this at incredibly low prices.

The one thing that is not a commodity, and will never be is that spark of an idea. Thanks Thomas. That’s as true in 2010 as it was in 1910.


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