Marketers are investing more and more in online advertising, but this year, the growth was lower than expected, while the weight of TV in the marketing mix remains constant. The future of the sector passes through two junctures: metrics and excessive concentration. How to objectively measure the effectiveness of online advertising? What spaces can Italian operators occupy as an alternative or complement to the two Big Goggles and Facebook?
Polimi’s point After years of whirlwind growth and collective euphoria, the moment for reflection has arrived for the Internet advertising market. The online channel has been in second place in the advertising media mix for four years now and is worth 30% of the total. But in 2016, it grew less than expected: 9%, a single-digit rate for the first time. In absolute terms, it is worth as much as television.
A sobering setback that is calling into question the role and effectiveness of digital channels compared to more “traditional” ones. Two crucial questions remain unanswered. The first concerns the real return on advertising investments. How to objectively measure how effective online advertising is? What are the significant metrics in an increasingly articulated and complex world?
The second concerns the role of local operators compared to the international Big Players, who are increasingly powerful and “greedy”. How can we stem the hegemony of Google and Facebook, which in Italy at the end of the year will represent, according to projections, almost 75% of the online advertising market and which continue to grow?
«It is essential to provide clarity to guide businesses and media companies – stated Giuliano Noci, professor of Strategy and Marketing at the Polytechnic University of Milan, on the occasion of the presentation of the new research by the New Media Observatory -. There is a desperate need to measure because the relevance of digital is now such that it leads to opportunistic behavior, which needs to be put in order.
To leap in quality, attract increasingly significant budgets and succeed in taking away shares from the television medium, Internet Advertising must be able to demonstrate its impact on companies’ business objectives. And we need to understand what are the possible spaces that Italian operators can occupy as an alternative or complement to the two large international operators”.
The Purchasing Process Is Integrated, And The Marketing Is “Ambient.”
A non-trivial challenge that involves everyone, from investors to media agencies, from publishers to dealers, passing through the market certifiers. And that requires a cultural, organizational, and skills change. Market growth rates, according to Polytechnic experts, in the coming years will be strongly influenced by the ability or otherwise to undertake this path in a context that has transformed in just a few years. «To find the right answers, however, we must understand that the purchasing process and consumers’ media experiences have profoundly changed.
We must avoid being fundamentalists, contrasting the Internet with the analogue world of TV, because it is now an integrated system – Noci pointed out. – Marketers were used to thinking of a discrete process, in which the purchase phase follows the manifestation of need and then the post-purchase phase. Today, however, purchasing manifests itself as a continuum.”
This is because the stimuli we receive are continuous, and their effectiveness depends on the context, so much so that Noci defines Marketing as an “ambient activity”. An example? Today it is possible to immediately react to an advertising message on TV by buying online, and the purchase can take place while sitting on the sofa or later, perhaps at the tram stop. «It is a fundamental step: marketing must increasingly work where the need arises.
However, the mechanisms in people’s heads have not changed, so awareness branding remains extremely relevant. You must be able to manage short and medium-term activities in a combination that combines branding-oriented storytelling logic with tactical actions aimed at inducing action. Technology has been overestimated to the detriment of creativity: advertising is a trinomial, a mix of art, creativity and technology.”
Beyond Multi Device Fragmentation
In this new perspective of integration between the old and new world, the importance of measuring the effectiveness of actions as a whole while avoiding hyperpigmentation appears clear, even if the experiences that the consumer has with the media are multitasking and multi-device. «Indicators that measure the single touch point, which tell us if a banner is viewable and so on, are of little use.
We need a system of different measures that seek to qualify the integration systems of indicators that help us interpret the phenomenon, both from a branding and short-term perspective, without settling on tactics that work on unitary targets. We must think about increasingly transversal ecosystems: the opportunities lie between broadcasting and interactive digital.”
According to the Polytechnic professor, it is not just a question of seizing an opportunity but of a necessity for the market: « The majority of digital investments pass through the two large Over The Top, and we must now find credible and sustainable answers», he concluded Giuliano Noci.
Online Video Is Spreading: More Investments And New Formats
Video is the new language of communication: it is the most engaging format for brand advertising, it is essential in the media plan, it is the future of marketing and the present for young people, as confirmed by the views – millions – collected by the most famous YouTubers. There is great excitement in the world of advertising and a lot of technological innovation, with several new features on the way. After all, users’ time dedicated to watching videos is increasing.
And if today’s advertising means “pre-roll”, the near future will see the growth of branded content, stories, and interactive experiences, which are the essence of digital. It is, therefore, time for Marketers to learn to know this world closely, understand its dynamics – less evident than it might seem – and get closer to the technological innovations that are rapidly transforming the scenario, remembering that it is challenging to stand out among the sea of contents generated.
Overall, video advertising in 2016 vastly exceeded 500 million euros, thanks in particular to the growth in advertising revenue from OTTs but also from the main broadcasters, according to data from the Polytechnic University of Milan. It is the format that has grown the most in absolute value over the last year and today is worth 22% of total Internet advertising. To understand the true extent of the phenomenon, a comparison with TV is valid.
For every 100 euros invested in the small screen, 13 are destined for online videos (there were around 6 in 2013). Today, video planning is often managed in an integrated manner, i.e. by combining television and the Internet. Looking at the types of video formats most used, as anticipated, pre-roll (which is part of the in-stream formats) is still the most requested form, even if the demand for out-stream formats is growing, particularly within Social networks.
The term out-stream refers to those advertising videos inserted in other positions within the site page. Suppose the in-stream formats, i.e. within video content, are standard and easily lend themselves to simple readaptations of television creativity. In that case, the out-stream formats are instead multiple, adapt to different positioning on the page and to different screens/devices, and require ad hoc creativity to express their potential fully.