Digital has come of age, says Bernoff

22 July 2009

NEW YORK: Digital marketing "is no longer experimental" as it was during the last downturn, and is now making more traditional forms of advertising look "inefficient" by comparison, according to Josh Bernoff, co-author of the book Groundswell.

In a piece published in AdAge, Bernoff – who co-wrote Groundswell, reviewed here, with fellow Forrester analyst Charlene Li – argued "in this recession, marketers have learned that interactive marketing is more effective, and advertising less effective, per dollar spent."

As such, even though online budgets have fallen during the financial crisis, this decline is noticeably less substantial than spending cuts enforced across almost all other types of media.

In evidence of this, a survey by Forrester of 200 marketers found that 60% of participants plan to divert funds from their traditional media budgets to boost their interactive outlay.

Taking a more long-term view, a majority of industry professionals expect the effectiveness of mediums including direct mail, print, TV and outdoor to either remain static or fall in the next three years.

By contrast, 70% of respondents agreed that social media, online video and mobile marketing will increase in efficacy over this period.

Overall, Forrester predicted that digital media will see its share of total adspend expand from 12% this year to around 21% in five years time.

Within this, online video revenues will rise from $870 million (€612m; £528m) in 2009 to $3 billion in 2014, with social media seeing an uptick from $716m to $3.1bn in the same period (excluding display ad revenue on these sites, which is counted separately).

Total interactive adspend will more than double from $25.6bn this year to $54.9bn in 2014, with mobile up from $391m to $1.2bn, display from $7.8bn to $16.9bn, and search from $15.3bn to $31.5bn.

More specifically, Bernoff argued marketing via social networks in "poised for the most explosive growth."

By way of a conclusion, he stated that digital is already an integral part of many campaigns, and "if you're in advertising, you'd better learn to speak digital, because that's the way the world is going."

Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by WARC staff