Google Speaks

At last week's MIXX Conference in New York, two top Google Executives -- Neal Mohan, vice president of product management and Barry Salzman, managing director of media and platforms -- offered up seven predictions for the shape of digital display advertising in 2015. I love the future as much as anyone -- I plan to live there one day -- so I can't help chiming in with my own comments

1) 50% of online ads will have video in them and be bought on a cost-per-view basis.

The more I read this simple statement the less I came to really understand the logic. Today we think of both in-stream and in-unit videos. Does Google make a distinction here at all? Clearly their "True View," cost-per-view advertising model is designed to cut off the oxygen to to the rest of the would-be-video ad environments. I say the percentage numbers will be even higher than this -- Google could tack a cost-per-view ad onto everything on YouTube if they wanted to -- but that they will ultimately just create a second tier video ghetto. There will still be a thriving CPM-based video marketplace where a good plurality of revenue will still flow. Context Matters. Prediction Grade: B-

2) 50% of all display advertising targeted to a specific audience will rely on real-time bidding.

Agree wholeheartedly with this one. The players are all lining up for this exchange-based future now. This all gets as un-sexy as a plumbing diagram. Publishers and media owners will create margin on top of this world, and those who rework their sales forces and strategies soonest will have a major advantage. It's all just pipes. We just have to make better stuff flow through them. Prediction Grade: A-

3) Mobile will become the No. 1 screen for advertising. The mobile screen will become the first screen that consumers go to on a variety of mobile devices.

I'm flunking you guys on a technicality here. Marketing dollars will indeed flow to mobile, but the result will look as much like advertising as I look like George Clooney. Call it services, call it marketing info, call it commerce. But if you think the mobile screen is another "your ad here" space, then your prediction grade is: F

4) Five new metrics will emerge to measure the success of ad campaigns. They will become more successful and important. Some exist already: engagement and interaction rates in rich media, video view, and impact on Web search results. Others might include sentiment analysis to measure the viral influence and the tone of consumer chatter about the brand across the Internet. Or, measure foot traffic into the store through geo-based technology.

I'm on board here in a big way. I have my own span of values to offer up. A dollar spent online will yield (1) transportation outcomes, (2) media planning outcomes, (3) engagement outcomes, (4) brand communication outcomes, (5) commerce outcomes, (6) social outcomes and (7) non-linear outcomes. I'll toss in the search results measure as #8. Even though the prediction is coming from the company that's kept us all hogtied to the click rate for the last decade, I give them a prediction grade of: B

5) 75% of ads will become socially enabled. In the long term, all ads will become social as the industry moves to an always-on communication.

Prediction Grade: A-. I liked this prediction when I made it myself back in July. They get the "-" only because the prediction is 25% too tepid. I think everything is optimized for social impact.

6) 50% of brand campaigns will run rich media in the ads, up from 6% during the last year.

Really? Just 50%? And why only brand campaigns? B-

7) Display advertising will become a $50 billion industry.

Amen. B+, only because it could be even bigger five years from now. Let's temper our enthusiasm with the hope that Google sees the display environment as the ecosystem that it is, and not simply another math problem to be solved. I'm glad that Google is now encouraging people to "Watch this Space." Many of us have been watching it for years and care pretty deeply about what happens to it.