Performance marketing is setting the stage for a banner year in 2013. Expanding digital ad budgets and options, new screens and platforms, big data, and industry and technological convergence will all move the performance marketing industry forward at an unprecedented pace. New opportunities will open up and take shape, while challenges will continue to emerge and test the sector, leading to a stronger, smarter, and more prosperous industry.
Already taking shape are opportunities created by steady growth in digital advertising and performance-based marketing spend. Total online ad revenue jumped $9.3 billion in 2012 to a record $26.3 billion, surpassing 2010’s year-end $26 billion mark. While 2012 Q4 numbers are not in yet, we know from Q1-Q3 data that mobile growth broke through the noise, and tablets greatly outperformed smartphones in most categories. The consistent rise in digital advertising expenditures, and the promising trends we see in mobile – with tablets leading the way – signal a vibrant and still strengthening performance-marketing industry.
Also, contributing to the industry’s growth opportunities and intelligence is big data. More precise data is becoming increasingly available and malleable, allowing for finer audience definition and message targeting, producing more profitable campaigns with tighter ROIs. Further, as data application and parsing continue to evolve, more top global advertisers and agencies will move to performance-based advertising and new enterprise marketing platforms. At the forefront, will be top U.S. display advertisers that will more efficiently leverage data to target markets with audience-specific messaging in industries such as telecom, financial services, retail, and travel. Of course, more data will create higher demand for more sophisticated technology, tools, and industry participants – all pushing performance marketing forward.
Other factors shaping the industry’s prosperity are its flexibility and emerging convergence. Programs are increasingly scalable, cross-platform business models are becoming more available, and multi-screen platforms are being adopted on a broader basis, all leading to greater revenue and efficiency opportunities. The most important opportunity however, lies within the industry itself, as traditionally segmented channels and interests converge and with one voice, push forward comprehensive research, associations, and conferences.
As with any other growing industry, performance marketing will be tested in 2013. Regulation, taxes, and data tracking and brokering, will make the most noise in the coming year, with the industry’s strength and unity tested at each touch point. If the cohesion in how the industry responded to recent challenges such as the Affiliate Nexus Tax question prevails, the performance-marketing sector will not skip a beat in facing other tests.
Bigger budgets, more data, new platforms, growing mobile, the question of regulation, and a converging industry will drive and shape the performance marketing industry in 2013. An already strong, prosperous, and smart industry, will only have the opportunity to shine and outperform in 2013.