Looking for the Open Spaces in the LUMAscape

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ADOTAS – Over the next few weeks, as ad:tech and the other fall conferences continue to play out, we will all experience the collective sigh following the unveiling of a new LUMAscape as well as the usual predictions as to what it all means.

If you haven’t seen one, the LUMAscape is a PowerPoint slide gone into hyperspeed and designed to illustrate the complex landscape of digital marketing. Mastered by Terence Kawaja from the LUMA Partners, the LUMAscapes have been designed for different areas of digital marketing such as display, search, mobile, social, video, commerce and gaming.

They seemingly cannot fit another company name on them without opting for agate type. It is inevitable that someone will close a presentation with a LUMAscape, leaving the audience to draw the stated or inferred conclusion that the digital marketing business is too crowded to avoid serious consolidation.

Let me cut to the chase—I love LUMAscapes. I love what they represent to me, which is the exact opposite of the oft-alluded-to consolidation. To me, a crowded slide with hundreds of companies all filling some kind of possibility in digital marketing is about as cool as the Sistine Chapel. It is a representation of how much room there actually is for innovation and value in the digital marketing business.

That’s not to say there won’t be some companies in this business that have a hard time finding their value proposition right now. It’s not to say that there won’t be some consolidation, especially if the economy stays flat. I would also argue, however, that not only is there room in the LUMAscape for more companies, there will be more companies expanding and starting up in the digital marketing space.

And the trends we’ve seen since the first LUMAscape was introduced in 2010 proves this with more and more logos being added to each revision and more areas are being mapped out.

I like the idea of talking about the LUMAscape from a different angle. Rather than talk about a consolidation of companies, it’s better to look at it from the angle of consolidation of tactics, especially when it comes to buying display media. For example, if Google acquired all 300 companies on the display slide, it wouldn’t change anything as there would still be 300 different ways to buy display media from different divisions of Google.

There has already been a consolidation of tactics in search as all SEM interfaces have campaigns, ad groups, keywords and text ads with 135 character ad units. What if other parts of the business adopted that simplified approach? What would be the universal way that people choose to target audiences?  By job title?  By income level?  By who they are linked to on a social network?  Or by the search term?

Obviously (and I admit my bias), I would argue that it is the search term that will become the De facto targeting method for display. However, my point is that we should look at the LUMAscape as a means for enacting a simplification of tactics over the proposed consolidation of companies.

So when you see one of those LUMAscapes over the next few weeks, I encourage you to look at the open spaces. Be impressed with the amount of companies that have taken digital marketing so far, so fast. Think more about the consolidation of tactics and what a universal approach would look like when it comes to audience buying and data driven advertising.

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