Digital Marketing Strategies in the Age of Consumer Control - eMarketer
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Digital Marketing Strategies in the Age of Consumer Control

There is no doubt that new digital technologies hand a lot of control to consumers but they also create new opportunities for online marketers.

March 20, 2006

Now that consumers are armed with iPods, TiVo machines, Blackberries, search engines, broadband connections, spam filters and a variety of other digital technologies, they have gained unprecedented control over the media and content to which they are exposed. As a result, marketers are facing an increasingly complex web of challenges, including media fragmentation, excessive commercial clutter and a growing resistance among consumers towards marketing messages of all kinds.

Data from Forrester Research, published in late 2004, showed that, even then, a majority of North American Internet users deployed a range of ad-blocking services and devices. 63% of those surveyed then used a pop-up blocker, with an another 13% intending to deploy one during 2005.

Types of Ad Blocking Services Online Consumers in North America Have Signed Up for, 2004 (as a % of respondents)

The intentions of consumers are clear. A survey from Find/SVP, published in August 2005, implied that 62% of US DVR owners saw avoiding commercials as a benefit of the device.

But all is not lost!

In fact, digital technologies also offer significant new opportunities, whether your goals are direct response or branding in nature. Online marketing, an industry that is growing at double-digit rates, allows marketers to "engage" with their audiences in new and profound ways.

This potential is reflected in the trends in spending on online advertising. In 2005, total online ad spending in the US grew by 30% to reach a total of $12.5 billion. eMarketer projects that growth will remain strong through to 2010, with all types of advertising showing substantial increases.

US Online Advertising Spending, by Format, 2004-2010 (millions)

One powerful example, and a driving force behind the growth in overall spending, is the use of paid search. This continues to grow and expand into new areas like local, video and audio search. eMarketer projects that total US spending on paid search advertising will reach close to $11.3 billion in 2010, up from an estimated $6.5 billion in 2006.

US Paid Search Advertising Spending, 2003-2010 (millions)

Behavioral targeting and contextual advertising are other online tactics that will help create new opportunities and improve the effectiveness of online advertising. Newer interactive ad formats, such as online video, rich media, ad-supported online games, mobile marketing, blogs and podcasting are also becoming vital tools for savvy marketers in all vertical sectors.

So there is clearly huge potential but successfully marketing to newly empowered consumers depends critically on adopting the right strategy and tactics. Many online marketers are currently confronted with the task of puzzling out what these are.

And the answer?

All will be revealed in my next Current Insights feature, to be published in the first week of May. Be sure to bookmark eMarketer.com and come back to learn how organizations are successfully taking advantage of the latest trends in digital technology.

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