The evolution of digital engagement

Recent acquisitions and launches by major players in the digital space are heralding a new era of fresh innovation and opportunity for marketers and advertisers. Google’s purchase of Teracent in late 2009 showed the world that it was serious about display advertising while more recently Apple has started to release some information about its iAd plans. On the agency side of the fence, the WPP Group have stated that 1/3 of their revenue will be from digital in 3 years and in the meantime is busy looking for digital marketing acquisitions to swell its offerings and digital capabilities.

Looking under the bonnet of these stories is where it starts to get interesting....

Google's purchase of Teracent has brought ad personalisation a step closer by automating the real-time creation and execution of intelligent ads, customised to user and site. True one to one advertising is still beyond our reach, but this is exciting because it automates the previously time consuming and costly creation of multiple variations.

WPP's belief in digital is of course good to see and their purchasing power will add new tools and services to their network of companies fast. One of its recent digital innovations is the provision of ‘live dashboards’ for a number of their clients, merging proprietary, public and client data into a marketing insight delivery tool. The ability to source, personalise, package and deliver information in real time won’t be a new inspiration to those involved in digital engagement.

Apple’s iAd platform is going to simplify advertising (on the iPhone and iPad at least) at the same time as making it more sophisticated and useful. Its application integration approach improves user experience by keeping them within the app rather than routing them to a web browser – and the interactivity is apparently set to go as far as in-app, in-ad purchases. Developing the ad platform so that integrating the ads into apps only takes developers an afternoon is another sensible move. Anything that makes good advertising practice easier to develop and deliver can only support further innovation and best practice. We find Apple’s desire to "combine the emotion of TV with the interactivity of the web both logical and laudable too.

These are all superb examples of where digital engagement is heading – and elements we believed would be in demand when we started developing our online video ad platform 18 months ago. Due to launch in June this year, In-Video will offer multi-level interactivity within an advertising overlay and tap into the exploding opportunity of online video. It will be fast, intuitive and designed for everyone to benefit from, not just the brands with big bucks and long project schedules. It will deliver a great experience for all parties, and maximise revenue generation capabilities, results and engagement. Not only that, it will deliver the high-end impact of a flash advert, combined with a suite of interactive, data-driven widgets that provide rich functionality and continuous quality feedback for analysis and optimisation. Until we can tell you more, why not visit this post to read about our partnership with Brightcove.

We know that today’s interactive capabilities can lead to many different actions, data and services being delivered and, especially against the rich media backdrop of video, we believe that advertisers, media owners and the users themselves have a right to expect similar capabilities from their advertising.

Before now, there was a stark choice to be made: functionality/direct response or creativity/branding. This is the year that changes... and we’re rather looking forward to it!

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