5 big online trends to watch in 2011

Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration
South Africa’s online industry looks set for another year of healthy growth during 2011. The year is likely to be all about the continued maturing of the country’s online industry as marketers and publishers refine their digital strategies and extend their use of existing technologies.

As always, return on investment will be top of mind for the country’s marketers as budgets remain under pressure and they look for ways to maximise limited spend. Here are a few trends to look out for.

Behavioural targeting

Expect behavioural targeting to become a much bigger player during 2011 as marketers look for ways to target the right potential customers with the right message.

With behavioural targeting, marketers are able to use information collected about users’ web-browsing behaviour, such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have conducted, to choose advertisements to display to them. This allows advertisers to vastly improve conversion by focusing the right messages on customers whose behaviour indicates that they are actually interested in the products on sale. As a result, return on investment is dramatically improved.

The reason that behavioural targeting will start to become bigger in South Africa in 2011 is that the technology to segment and target users by behaviour has finally matured to a point where it is sophisticated enough to produce significant results, yet easy enough to use.

King content is back

The web is awash with content, but most of it isn’t very good. Among marketers, there is a hunger for good, professionally produced and differentiated content. We can expect to see content providers look to collaborate more closely with marketers to monetise their content through strategies such as syndication and custom publishing.

Powering up web analytics

During 2011, we can expect to see marketers start to use web analytics tools in increasingly sophisticated ways as they look to drive better results from their online marketing investments. They will track their campaigns in an increasingly integrated manner as they seek to understand how the various online elements (email, display, search and so on) interact not only with each other but also with offline campaigns and channels.

In addition, companies will begin to understand and manage their campaign data as a precious corporate resource. The more data they have about their customers and their campaigns, the better they will be positioned to drive results from their web analytics environments.

Tentative moves in mobile

For years, the industry has hyped up the potential growth of the mobile channel, but we have yet to see mobile really explode. This year will most probably not be the year that mobile search and display advertising really take off, but we’ll see the groundwork being put in place for some strong growth during 2012 and 2013. Some important developments taking place in the mobile market include constant improvement of the technologies for delivering ads and measuring campaign performance. It will be a good year to experiment with the technology with a view to understanding what it can do for you.

Explosive growth for video

It is all about entertainment and we’re now starting to see rich-media advertising take off in South Africa, where we believe video will finally become a major part of the advertising landscape during 2011. In our experience, video campaigns drive far higher levels of customer engagement and conversion than traditional display campaigns. With bandwidth prices constantly falling in South Africa, publishers can now deliver video-based ads without the fear of website visitors being annoyed with high bandwidth cost implications.

By Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration