David Armano at Dachis (still in stealthy mode with ex-Forrester analyst Peter Kim) and the author of the Logic & Emotion blog coined a winner when he describes stuff like web banners and paid search as “tradigital” tactics. Brilliant. Close to two decades of digital marketing, the banner ad is nearly 15 years old, and now it is time to segregate the traditional from the new. I was in a pitch from a major business site last week and found myself citing “tradigital” tactics – not scoffing at them, they still have a big place in demand generation for ecommerce – but grasping at the next big thing in digital marketing, which I suppose some marketing futurists are going to label “social commerce.”
Tradigital hit a saturation point of sorts in 2007-2008 – especially in bare knuckles segments such as commodity paid search on generic keywords like “digital camera” and “cheap laptop” where the battle to recruit traffic is fierce. Click-through yields always head south over time in a tactic, never up; and after a few years search campaigns have started to show diminishing returns as more cash is stuffed into keyword arbitrage but less of the traffic converts, driving expense-to-revenue ratios lower. Blended tradigital and the rise of new metric and analytics approaches has given a new life to old tactics – retargeting/remarketing, look-alike modeling, behavioral techniques, follow-along, campaign stacking … it’s awesome to watch tradigital get revived by analytic ninjas.
Given that the only successful path in digital is perpetual beta, innovation seeking is a core component of a digital marketers’ job description these days, with the race to get into a new tactic, master it, and add it to the arsenal driven by the inevitable fade-away of the tried and true. Has any digital ad unit held its own over time? I’d argue email/spam will always have legs – why else does it continue to appear in nearly every marketing plan? – and display advertising is a “buttress” tactic that run in context with keyword buys will help the search terms convert a bit better than they would in the absence of banners. There are tradigital extensions that try to teach old dogs new tricks, such as Tumri multivariate ads and some of the intrusive page takeover units that live on like bad boomerangs.
The next wave of digital – the things I am keeping an eye on include:
- RSS fed display: We messed around with this stuff during the Olympics, driving some banner content off of blogs into fixed ad units on the Federated Media network.
- WOM catalysts: how do you arm fans with coupons to lay on their friends? Ecoupons – single use spot offers are coming into their own. The current model of ecoupon codes is messy and cumbersome.
- Detection of desire: watch social media monitoring turn from detection of the next Jeff Jarvis to detection of people in love with products and brands. See WOM catalyst. I see an even cooler thing coming, but I want to keep it to myself for now.
- Facebook apps: I’m not a believer in soc-net advertising and buy into the P&G marketing dude’s opinion that people are on those properties to connect with friends, not shop or peruse. But, there’s got to be some creativity in marketing apps for FB. I dunno. I’m grateful I have smart Facebook people on our teams. Someone is going to crack Facebook, not me.
- Payperpost: I hate it, but even with the FTC coming down on blogola, it’s gonna thrive. Read the comments of the defenders – people are hurting for cash in this economy and this is easy cash. It sucks, but ethics are a luxury that don’t pay people’s bills. All you can do is boycott dipshit marketers who pay for it and leave the bloggers alone.
- More dynamic multivariate units. Tumri is pretty awesome. This is display advertising that can teach you something.
- Cable TV: GoogleTV delivered for us in beta. Now the cable industry is looking at a response.
Anyway, enough sci-fi. The next biggie is going to be an utterly huge rethinking of the shopping experience. Think about it. Web 2.0 brought content management systems to the people. We can all manage a site/blog without big tools. We can measure with free analytics. We can promote with free megaphones like Twitter. But what about commerce? Of all the user experiences, ecomm remains stuck in a bad model. eBay makes anybody a merchant – but I’m thinking we need a massive rethink on shopping engine flow and get to commerce 2.0.