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Digital Media and the Social Web

January 9th, 2011 1:26PM by Brendon Kensel

Digital media will continue to be heavily influenced by social media in 2011 and the social web will likely facilitate increased cross-channel engagement. Digital media has expanded from an online medium into mobile, and is now rapidly expanding to connected TV’s. Key lubricants to integrating these channels are the social media and marketing platforms that track and influence consumer behavior. And in a new twist advertisers are now leveraging groups of digital-based social influencers to help market products.

In 2010, Facebook grew to more than 500 million users and pushed past Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) to become the most popular site on the Internet for the first time. Nearly one in four page views in the U.S., or just over 24%, took place on Facebook in 2010 according to Experian Hitwise. Additionally, 23% of all online display ads in the U.S. appeared on Facebook according to comScore, however, Facebook accounts for just 9.5% of the spending on display ads in the U.S.

But beyond Facebook as the 800-pound social networking community there are several underlying trends that should be noticed. The ever-expanding world of influence via social media is exploding. Marketer’s efforts to analyze, track and manage influence across a social graph will continue to mature. A social graph is an individual’s online community or communities.

One company taking advantage of this emerging trend is XGraph. This company provides brand marketers with online ad targeting that is tied to deep audience insights. XGraph’s targeting approach is based on the premise that people who are connected through online graphs share similar lifestyles, interests and purchasing habits. Another player in the space, 33Across, provides technology to track possible customers among friends and identifies possible purchasers and shoppers that are socially connected. A different approach to tracking social influence is being pursued by Klout, which identifies influencers on topics across the social web. Klout lets users track the impact of their opinions, links and recommendations across a social graph. Markers are now learning how to tap in to groups of influencers to help market products. Leveraging social graph information is becoming extremely important to marketers as they track and rank influencers and brands attempt to affiliate with their online credibility. These are trends that extend far beyond just using Facebook and Twitter.

Another trend driven by the social web is “social commerce.” This involves an e-commerce experience where shoppers’ friends become involved in the shopping experience. An interesting example of the movement towards social shopping is WeShop. This platform blends the daily deals phenomenon and social influencers and allows consumers to share purchase information on an anonymous basis. Unlike Groupon and some of the other services which are only deal alerts, WeShop also enables customers with similar interests to build virtual and anonymous marketplaces that have the potential to attract better offers from vendors depending on the number of potential buyers. Blending social influence, mobile and bricks-and-mortar shopping is Shopkick. This company is built on the belief that as the proliferation of smart phones and the concept of social sharing increases offline shopping as an experience can and will mimic that of the online world.

While we are clearly seeing social networks influence online and mobile environments the next frontier will likely be connected TV’s. This past November Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said at the Web 2.0 Summit that Google TV will liberate companies to create a whole new set of applications that will generate revenue. While this may be true, it appears that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is taking a more integrated social approach with an all-in-one Apple TV scheduled for debut in 2012 which could incorporate built-in Apple TV, MobileMe and iTunes. A small company attempting to harness social interaction across mobile devices, online and connected TV’s is Ultralivetv. This company wraps social interaction and games around live sports events.

Expect to see many more companies emerge that integrate social engagement across legacy and emerging channels.

Is it Time to Invest in Online Advertising Firms Again?

July 10th, 2010 7:11PM by Brendon Kensel
U.S. Online Advertising Growth 2009-2014E” width=

Source: Barclays Capital Internet Deal Book, April 2010

The U.S. turned in a fairly robust quarter in Q1 2010, with a GDP increase of 3.2%. Personal consumption expenditures also increased 3.6%. In May 2010 the unemployment rate decreased to 9.7% and personal consumption expenditures increased $24.4 billion, or 0.2%. Greater consumer activity is typically a prime motivator for greater advertising spending. Online advertising revenues in the U.S. were $5.9 billion in Q1 2010, representing a 7.5% increase over the same period in 2009, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Online advertising is the fastest growing segment of the advertising industry. Online advertising spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $24.9 billion in 2010, representing 8.9% growth over last year according to Barclays Capital Internet Data Book. Economic gains, increased broadband Internet access, along with the continued shift of advertising budgets from traditional to digital media is expected to drive online advertising revenues in the U.S. to $37.5 billion by 2014, a 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2009, which totaled $22.8 billion.

In 2009 online media represented 14.0% of the total U.S. advertising spending while average consumers spent about 22.0% of their media time online. This gap represents a significant opportunity for acquirers and investors of online ad firms as online advertising budgets are increased to bring them in-line with online media consumption. The popularity of social media is increasing this consumption – three of the world’s most popular brands online are social-media related: Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia.

While online advertising did not fully escape the impact of the recession, its decline in the U.S. was much less severe than that of other advertising media. Online advertising expenditures are expected to surpass newspaper advertising for the first time in 2010

U.S. Ad Spending Across Media 2009-2012E” width=

Source: Barclays Capital Internet Deal Book, April 2010

Search marketing has continued to fuel the growth of online advertising. Search revenues are expected to increase from $11.0 billion in 2009 to $21.3 billion in 2014, a 14.1% CAGR. The $12.8 billion marketers will spend on search in 2010 represents 52.0% of the total online ad spend.

Online video advertising and mobile advertising are expected to further drive digital advertising growth in the coming years. Online video advertising is expected to reach $3.7 billion in 2014, a 32.7% CAGR from 2009 revenues of just under $1.0 billion according to Barclays Capital.

The mobile advertising market also is poised for growth as wireless networks are upgraded and more Internet-enabled smart phones arrive in the market. Mobile advertising in the U.S. is expected to grow from $414 million in 2009 to $1.6 billion in 2014, a 32.0% CAGR.

It is time for investors to update their investment thesis for online advertising firms.