Even as ad spending growth has stalled in most traditional media, digital continues to climb. eMarketer recently hosted Digital Advertising Trends for 2013, an interesting webinar that examined major developments in US online, mobile and social ad spending, including 2012’s key areas of growth and trends to watch in 2013. Led by eMarketer Principal Analyst, David Hallerman, the webinar covered everything from Big Data and content marketing to social TV and native advertising. In this blog post, we highlight some of the key take-aways.

Big Data is at the core of every other trend. As channels multiply and audiences spend more time on many different devices, marketers need some form of Big Data to help them grasp what they’re doing. Though its name suggests otherwise, Big Data is not really about quantity. It’s about control. It provides marketers with the ability to predict behavior by measuring and monitoring digital activity in order to make both them and the bottom line much happier. So, is Big Data perplexing or liberating? The answer is both. It can be overwhelming or powerful depending on how you approach it. Hallerman recommends identifying one point of entry – for example, cloud computing – to focus on first, otherwise it is too easy to get overwhelmed.

Meet content marketing’s younger sibling: native advertising. Native advertising is a digital ad method in which brands provide valuable content in the context of the user’s experience on a specific platform, the goal being to seamlessly blend in without disrupting the user experience and, therefore, increase the likelihood users will click on it. If this sounds similar to an advertorial or other forms of content marketing, that’s because it is. In many ways, native ads and content marketing fit into the same family of marketing. Both focus on providing valuable information to prospects (often a key stages of the buying process) while whispering brand messages in a nonintrusive way. Native advertising is much more customized to the specific platform on which it lives though, following the format, style and voice of whatever medium it appears on. While this provides an enhanced experience for parties involved, including users, publishers and brands, the downside is that all this specificity doesn’t really scale.

Introducing the “multi” audience. Your audiences are multi-screen, multi-tasking “media creatures,” at once harder and easier to reach. While they are more fragmented, you have far more opportunities to reach them, if not on one medium, then on another. In this environment, content is longer enough. To engage them, Hallerman suggests your campaigns must:

  • Be everywhere: make sure your cross channel campaigns are synchronized and seamless, as silo-free as possible so that it is easy for a prospect to jump from brand experience to another.
  • Be consistent: synchronization means key messaging must stay the same from channel to channel, even as screens and advertising assets vary.
  • Be flexible: what works well on one screen may not be best for all screens. Make sure your assets are optimized for the medium on which they appear.
  • Be helpful: give your prospects value. Whether in the form of entertainment of information, give them a reason to engage with your brand.
  • Be understanding: leverage data to gain insights into your prospect’s motivations and preferences – how, where and when to reach them.

Tablet video advertising on the rise. Last year, we wrote about why tablets are the best new content marketing device. In 2013, it seems, video will be the content of choice. According to Hallerman, the use of tablet video advertising is going to explode this year thanks to a combination of the attractive demographics of tablet owners and the right media consumption behavior. With a brilliant resolution and overall visually engaging experience, tablets lend themselves to video consumption and longer form ads. While most publishers currently sell more video ad space on websites than through apps right now, Hallerman believes that will likely shift this year.

Think small. It’s not a new concept, but it’s worth repeating. When developing an ad campaign, start with the smallest ad space first. If the design and concept work in there then it will likely be effective and powerful in any ad size. As mobile advertising continues to grow in popularity, this approach will ensure your campaigns launch with the right assets.

What’s old is new again. In a rapidly evolving digital world, traditional marketing tactics are being made new again, and the medium is part of the message. Importantly these new technologies and trends should be seen as marketing tools, not goals. The key to success is integration: making them make sense together to help you achieve your marketing goals in 2013.