Spring Ahead: Trends to be ready for in 2013

Cella Irvine

New York, January 29th, 2013 —(min online)— In some parts of the world, February marks the beginning of a winter thaw, a month where we beat back the snow and the cold in anticipation of a Spring full of change. As we near the end of January, it’s time for the digital advertising industry to think about how we’ll emerge from our own deep freeze – brushing off last season’s ideas and trends in favor of something new.

Already we're seeing optimistic figures for mobile sales and signs that consumers will continue to demand higher quality advertisements. What more can the future hold? With helpful guidance from the previous year, it’s a guarantee that our industry will continue to leverage these three trends well into the spring months and beyond:

Mobile Matters
A recent study stated that, by 2017, 85% of the world will be covered with 3G mobile Internet, and half will have access to 4G. Meanwhile, this may finally be the year that the smartphone industry collectively ships 1 billion devices, if research from Deloitte proves true.

What does this mean for the advertising industry? Mobile. Clearly. Matters. And you're going to see ad campaigns and ad spend shift to match.

On the tablet, we've been uncomfortable with interruptive formats such as interstitials. However, in 2013 I expect these types of formats to evolve as well as many others to gaining traction to deliver on the creative promise that the tablet holds for content and advertising. On phones, expect to see a heavy focus on localization solutions that span the gap between the mobile ad and in-store activity.

From Square to Google Wallet, mobile payments made on phones are projected to reach $90 billion by 2017, extending the impact of mobile ads and increasing their value at the same time. However, our journey ahead is anything but easy. "Mobile payment and digital wallet providers face significant hurdles to achieving adoption at scale," writes analyst Denée Carrington, "and 2013 will be a pivotal year in that quest."

Trading Native Advertising for Good Advertising
The Atlantic offered a cautionary tale of native advertising done wrong earlier this month with a glowing "sponsored" article from the Church of Scientology. This piece did little to fool users who were quick to express outrage that the advertorial post was "designed to look as similar as possible to the posts written by an editorial staff."

Meanwhile, other publishers such as Quartz and Buzzfeed are chasing native, integrated solutions too on a smaller, individual scale. But their success, I feel, is fleeting.

The reason native advertising exists is because we haven't figured out how to make good advertising work – and in 2013 that will begin to change. Expect to see Rising Star ad units from the IAB deployed with increasing frequency on desktop and mobile sites, as well as new solutions from many in the industry, including Vibrant.

More Than Ever, Consumers Take Control
There's a reason why people both loathe and love Dish Network's new Hopper DVR, demoed to much fanfare at CES. The device's ad-skipping feature is either a boon or a burden, depending on who you are.

Whether online, in print, or on TV, consumers are becoming increasingly adept at blocking out ads, harmless as they may be. “We've entered an era where the consumer has more control than ever," writes Dan Pappalardo, executive creative director & co-founder of Troika, and "disruptive messaging is not as effective - or tolerated - as it once was." This is not an easy year ahead. Innovative advertising that is both relevant and useful will be the only way to keep up.

However, things won’t change over night. It will take annual device refreshes from Google, Apple, Samsung and more later in the year to drive the mobile conversation. And expect more publications to experiment with native advertising and sponsored content before the pendulum swings back the other way to more traditional advertising units – units that add value to existing content, rather than masquerading as editorial content that users don’t really want.

The coming months are when old thoughts thaws, and new ideas and trends begin to grow. This is just the start.

About Vibrant
Vibrant Media (www.vibrantmedia.com) is the world’s leading provider of in-content contextual technology that gets brand content and advertising discovered across platforms. With over 6,500 premium publishers, reaching more than 250 million unique users per month (comScore, 2012), Vibrant gives top brand marketers the opportunity to deliver highly targeted, user-initiated campaigns, within relevant text and images. Vibrant works with top brand advertisers such as Microsoft, Unilever, Chrysler and AT&T. The company was founded in 2000 and has offices in New York, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, London, Paris, Hamburg, Munich and Dusseldorf. For more information about Vibrant, please visit www.vibrantmedia.com or www.facebook.com/vibrantmedia or www.twitter.com/vibrantmedia. Vibrant’s blog with insights on the digital marketing industry can be found at www.RelevanceMatters.com

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