Avenue A | Razorfish publishes Digital Outlook Report

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The 2008 Digital Outlook Report, now available from my employer Avenue A | Razorfish, is a must-read for anyone in marketing.

This annual report helps marketers understand trends in digital spending and consumer behavior. It contains rich insights ranging from the future of search marketing to social media. A few key themes jumped out at me as I read this 165-page opus:

1. Marketers: your consumer has escaped. Avenue A | Razorfish $735 million digital media billings for 2007 were distributed across more than 1,800 web properties, as opposed to 863 in 2006. Spend also moved away from a handful of portals and toward vertical properties and search engines, especially entertainment websites and community-focused properties. So why should you care? Because this distributed spend reflects the behavior of the “everywhere consumer” who snacks on content across the entire digital landscape as opposed to relying on a portal to obtain information passively. Marketers: if you want to really build a relationship with consumers in the digital world, likewise you need to think through every possible digital touchpoint where your consumer lives — websites, mobile screens, social media sites, broadband video communities, and so on.

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How to spend $735 million in a year

2. Got social media fatigue? Brace yourself for even more. The most startling (and potentially controversial) section of the report is “Conversations with the Connected Class,” by Brandon Geary. This chapter discusses the results of in-depth interviews with the “connected class” — wired consumers between the ages of 18 to 34. Brandon finds that the connected class uses the internet to build multiple identities that fit the different roles they live today. It is not uncommon for members of the connected class to maintain more than one MySpace profile to reflect their professional and personal lilves. The connected class also views different social media sites as opportunities to meet new people among multiple cultures and scenes. Social media sites like Yelp, 43 Things, or Bebo have their own relevant cultures and places in the digital world. So why should you care? We believe the industry will see the proliferation of even more specialized, sophisticated social networks that cater to the varied identities and roles of the connected class. Consequently, marketers need to plan on participating in even more social media networks and customize our approaches for each speciality.

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Brandon Geary of Avenue A | Razorfish ponders the prospect of yet another interview with the connected class

Sound hard? Well, no sane individual ever said that digital is easy to figure out. But it’s pretty darn fun and rewarding for the marketer.

You can register for the report here, listen to a podcast here, and obtain more commentary from the report’s executive editor Jeff Lanctot on Jeff’s blog. (Hey Brandon Geary: you should have a blog!). Moreover, graphics that illustrate details of Avenue A | Razorfish’s $735 million digital spend are available on Flickr.

This blog post barely scratches the surface of the report. Check it out and tell me what you think of it. Reuters, CNET, and other media are already weighing in.

Happy reading.

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