Dec 10, 2009

eMarketer Weighs In on 2010 Trends: Social Media & Paid Content

DECEMBER 9, 2009 

eMarketer analysts give you their perspective

Debra Aho Williamson, Senior Analyst
Earned Media Takes Center Stage
Marketers will demand better ways to manage and measure the impact of earned media—the additional unpaid exposure a brand gets when consumers share about the brand online. Agencies will need to establish earned-media goals for every paid-media online ad campaign.
Social Plus Search Will Equal Better Results, More Ad Opportunities
Search will get more social in several ways: by including real-time content in results (e.g., Twitter posts), adding information from social network friends to results, and using collective information from other Web users to hone search relevance. These trends will yield new ad formats that may incorporate friends’ viewpoints or interactions directly into the ad—and will raise new red flags among privacy advocates.
Social Ad Networks Will Expand
Expect more momentum—and regulatory scrutiny—behind advertising that is targeted based on information from social network user profiles. News Corp.’s Fox Audience Network (FAN) and services from startups 33Across, Media6° and others are already up and running. Meanwhile, some advertisers, such as Discovery Channel, have tested ad formats that are personalized on the fly by using Facebook profile data.

   Paul Verna, Senior Analyst
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to guess that 2010 will be the year in which Twitter turns its focus toward building its business. So far, it has concentrated on audience growth, and by any measure it had a spectacular year. (eMarketer estimates that Twitter’s US user base tripled to 18 million in 2009.)
The questions now are: What kind of business will Twitter build, and will it succeed?

US Adult Twitter Users, 2008-2010 (millions and % of adult Internet users)

The revenue streams that have been discussed include paid corporate accounts, celebrity authentication and temporal search. Of these, search seems the most realistic as a revenue generator. There will be formidable challenges, however: After all, how does a marketer insert itself into a short, time-sensitive conversation without disrupting the flow of that conversation and alienating the user?
It’s not clear how, or if, Twitter will overcome these obstacles, but co-founder Biz Stone offered a tantalizing hint when he told Reutersthat the company has a novel form of advertising up its sleeve. Expect Twitter to roll this out in 2010 as the cornerstone of its temporal search business.
Another thing to look out for is a possible Twitter IPO. This appears a more likely avenue than an acquisition, which loomed as a possibility at this time last year.
Online News Content
Media companies are at the center of a fierce debate over how to best monetize digital content. In recent years, they swung from one extreme to another—first charging the consumer for access to content, then opening the floodgates to free, ad-supported content (with a few notable exceptions).
Now, some media entities with premium offerings are again contemplating paid-content experiments. As these play out in 2010, we’ll see what works and what doesn’t. Our prediction? Consumers will resist paid systems, and competitors will capitalize on the negative sentiment with ad-supported content. In the end, there will be islands of paid content (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times) and hybrids of paid and ad-supported models, but on the whole, the digital media landscape will be predominantly ad-based.
Digital Video Convergence
One of the keys to transitioning the US home video audience from DVDs to digital streams and downloads will be the emergence of technology that bridges the gap between the computer and the TV. The Consumer Electronics Show in early 2010 will usher in TVs with direct Internet connectivity, or with on-screen access to content portals such as YouTube, Blockbuster and Netflix. As online video becomes intertwined with the living-room TV experience, download and streaming services will take on a prominent role in the home entertainment ecosystem.
Keep up on the latest digital trends. Learn more about an eMarketerTotal Access subscription, today.
Check out today’s other article, “Mobile Couponing Catching On?
Tomorrow, check out analyst predictions for the UK and Europe. And next week eMarketer co-founder and CEO Geoff Ramsey will give his take on the year to come.