2012: The year in digital

2012: The year in digital

Digital dominated the industry in 2012, leading the way for campaigns and introducing new technology and capabilities every month.

The Australian Direct Marketing Association rebranded as the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) to reflect the growing prominence of data. ADMA then joined forces with the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association to release a group buying guide.

Apple launched the iPad3 with 4G network capability and digital marketers branded the iPhone5 “hugely disappointing” for its lack of near field communication (NFC) capabilities. Next up, the iPad Mini was launched in November.

Retailers embraced the Federal Government’s proposal to cut the tax-free threshold on purchases from overseas websites and said it would level the playing field.

Online video audiences soared according to Nielsen research which found more than three quarters of online Aussies watch video content via the internet. Meanwhile, watching TV online became mainstream as 5.2 million Australians used the internet to catch up with TV shows, according to figures from the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Microsoft’s decision to set its Internet Explorer 10 browser with a default ‘Do Not Track’ setting copped industry flack and was perceived as a threat to the future of targeted online advertising.

There were big changes for Facebook, which began with the launch of its ‘Global Pages’ and a new localised ad platform. The social network reached one billion users in October and created its first brand video to celebrate the milestone. Facebook also unleashed an assault on fake ‘Likes’ to help brands accurately measure their social success.

Paul Borrud, Facebook Australia and New Zealand chief, quit after two years at the helm. Facebook Australia appointed a temporary head in former Microsoft ad man Liam Walsh. Yahoo!7 unveiled a new chief executive with chief operating officer Stuart Sayers promoted to the role vacated by Rohan Lund, who moved to the COO role at Seven West Media. Yahoo!7 recruited Optus’ former commercial director, Penny Diamantakiou, to take the reins as chief financial officer of its business division.

Globally, Yahoo snared Marissa Mayer, one of Google’s top executives, to be the company’s new chief executive.

Google Creative Labs’ European founder Tom Uglow joined the Communications Council’s AWARD Committee. Meanwhile, the search giant teamed with major magazine publishers to launch its digital entertainment destination Google Play. Google also integrated its AdMob technology into its Adwords system to make mobile ad buying more accessible for its AdWords advertisers. Google’s agency relations head Chris Polites left the company after four years to join car price comparison site carsales.com.au.

Fairfax Media’s general manager of audience insights and research Gai Le Roy joined the Interactive Advertising Bureau as director of research to stimulate online and mobile display and search investment by standardising online audience and media measurement.

The IAB also appointed former Yahoo lawyer Samantha Yorke to the role of director of regulatory affairs.

Online auction site eBay unveiled its first new logo since the site was launched 17 years ago.

The galloping growth in smartphone uptake slowed to a trot with figures from GSK revealing the slowest growth rate in three years. The June quarter recorded only an 11% increase in smartphone sales, compared to 92% for the second quarter of 2009.

Digital media group Komli launched its mobile ad network across Australia and New Zealand.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) received 41 local applications for a new ‘.brand’ domain name. The major banks, not including Westpac, a number of universities, SBS and Australia Post were among the applications for domain names, but no Australian retailers applied. Google applied for 101 new internet domain names – more than any other brand globally. Meanwhile, Melbourne IT urged ICANN to tighten the safeguards around the new generic Top Level Domains (TLDs).

The Communications Council launched a social media code of conduct in the wake of the Advertising Standards Bureau’s controversial Facebook comments ruling, which stated that brands are responsible for all content, including comments and other user-generated content, on their Facebook pages.

The controversial ruling attracted widespread industry criticism and prompted the Communications Council to launch a social media code of conduct to give brands some guidelines in the wake of the decision. Social media practitioners gave the guide the tick of approval and labeled it “clear” and “useful”.

Ad spend on mobile was predicted to increase by more than 67.2% next year to reach $36m, grow by 42.2% in 2014, 37.7% in 2015 and 29.2% in 2016 to reach $90m, according to PwC’s Media and Entertainment 2012 to 2016 Outlook. In the same report, video ad spend is predicted to hit $100m in 2013, an increase of 39%, rising to $192m in 2016.

Nielsen launched online brand effectiveness measurement platform Nielsen Online Brand Effect, which it said would fill a “blind spot” in online advertising.

APN News and Media snapped up a $36m majority share (82%) of online shopping business BrandsExclusive as part of APN’s bid to ramp up its digital revenue.

Mobile ad platform InMobi opened a Melbourne office and appointed Yahoo!7’s David Ticconi as head of sales for Victoria.

LinkedIn passed the three million Australian members mark and opened an office in Perth. Globally, the network surpassed 150 million members in February.

Microsoft and Nine Entertainment’s joint venture Mi9 appointed former Starcom UK managing director Matt James its ad sales chief and managing director of its media division. Former Sensis general manager Mark Shaw was appointed as the new chief executive of Digital Music Distribution.

Online music video site VEVO.com launched in Australia, promising to be a premium content destination for advertisers. Digital music streaming service Spotify also launched in Australia with a mandate to socialise music.

Figures that showed a shock drop in digital spend from the Standard Media Index (SMI) in July and August were wrong and could have dented confidence in the market, media experts claimed. The incorrect figures showed a 4.7% year-on-year drop in July and a 7.7% decline in August when the market actually experienced a 16.3% increase in July and 8.2% climb for August.


Rebecca James, managing partner, Lavender

"Consumers are increasingly interacting with brands both on and offline, expecting the experience to seamlessly integrate. There is a new shift in the consumer paradigm – omni channel is evolving as the only channel.

The convergence of these channels is no longer optional as customers raise the bar on their expectations. Customers expect that when they do something in one place, it’s recognised in another. This is particularly evident in retail.

With over 10 million Australian consumers now shopping online, 2013 is set to be a milestone for retailers. Larger retail brands are slowly migrating to the new model but it is the smaller brands and newer international players with more nimble capabilities that have gained the upper hand. Retailers like the USA’s Shopbop have one of the most seamless offers. Starting as a bricks and mortar store in 1990s, the company has evolved to a model where 99% of revenue comes from online. 2012 saw the retailer come full circle, with pop-up stores in Australia. 

The key learning from the success of these retailers is that innovation needs to begin with a true understanding of how the customer wants to engage with your brand. If the engagement points are disconnected along the journey, then a valuable opportunity is lost. This is more often than not a product of marketing and e-commerce departments working in silos. When departments are fragmented the result is mirrored in the customer experience.

In 2013, the trend will continue with a slight shift to automated marketing.

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