Looking ahead to 2010, marketers will face continuing hard times with an increasing consumer focus on personal choice in terms of marketing media, according to Drew Neisser of digital marketing agency Renegade, who has compiled what he believes will be the top ten marketing media trends to emerge during the next twelve months and beyond. This article is copyright 2009 The Best Customer Guide.

Perhaps not surprisingly, much of the focus is on the online channels - whether that's in the form of merchant web sites and emails, social media, blogging, or others - although there are some surprise appearances from more traditional channels:

  1. Social media: In it for the long run
    Hoping to become fast friends with their targets, a lot of brands rushed into social media such as Facebook and Twitter during the past 24 months without investing sufficient time or resources. In 2010, marketers will increase their commitment to social media by first listening and then offering up a steady stream of engaging content that their fans actually want. This will be particularly true for B2B brands, only 38% of whom included social media in their 2008 marketing plans (compared to 71% for B2C brands).
  2. New inspiration for 'mash-ups'
    Some of the more innovative marketers tried 'mash-ups' (content combined from various online sources) in 2009 but, in 2010, mash-ups will become much more common as marketers seek to extend the value of their social media activities. Recognising that tech-savvy consumers can glide seamlessly between personal and business, online and offline, mobile and desktop, tomorrow's far-sighted marketers will bring together formerly disparate elements into a cohesive and even self-perpetuating social media experience.
  3. App-happy marketing
    Given the success that a handful of marketers have enjoyed with brand-oriented apps (software applications) in 2009, we can expect many more new entries in 2010. For example, iPhone apps that provide demonstrable value (such as Kraft's iFood Assistant recipe finder, or Zipcar's GPS-based car finder) will continue to gain traction. Also expect more apps that integrate with other social media tools (such as the Gap StyleMixer, which that allows consumers to mix and match clothes and share the resulting styles with friends on Facebook).
  4. Measure, measure, measure
    With more marketing budget being earmarked for social media, marketers will undoubtedly use new tools to monitor the conversations that are happening, either with or without them. For example, Radian6 and Scout Labs have emerged as useful social media monitoring tools. However, this kind of monitoring requires a sizeable commitment by marketers in terms of human resources and time - but the commitment is likely to pay off. For example, JetBlue has managed to enhance its customer loyalty by responding to every customer 'Tweet' within a matter of minutes, which has led to a Twitter following of over 1.3 million consumers.
  5. Point-Of-View power
    While lots of brands raced to get into social media in 2009, surprisingly few established true connections with their targets. Consumers tend to engage with brands they like on a visceral level, and when they provide a distinct perspective on the world. For example, Aflac's Duck quacks up a gaggle of quirky content, including charitable requests that appeal to over 161,000 fans on Facebook and 3,000+ followers on Twitter. By definition a brand is a point-of-view which, once clearly defined, should guide all communications whether social or otherwise.
  6. Winning new customers with old-fashioned honesty
    The emergence of several "tell all" consumer-created web sites signals the arrival of a new era of honesty and transparency, especially for brands targeting those aged under 35. Marketers who develop a solid sense of honesty, and who admit mistakes and address shortcomings in real time (or as near as possible) will find a youthful army of comrades on the internet.
  7. Hold the presses - or not
    Although a 50% decline in ad pages has comfirmed 2009 as the worst year in advertising history, marketers can't write off print as a viable media channel. Over 80% of US consumers still subscribe to at least one magazine and 83% believe that newspapers are still relevant. Experimenting with video in print publications (like Entertainment Weekly) is one of the ways that certain magazine segments can hold onto their targets and satisfy their advertisers at the same time. Fashion magazines and enthusiast publications continue to offer a visual showcase that is far superior to that offered by most e-publications.
  8. Viral video starts with usefulness
    The emergence of viral video rankings in 2009 reflected the fact that this approach to audience engagement is going mainstream. But, while everyone aspired to make a viral hit, surprisingly few found an audience. In 2010, marketers will roll out more of the same while a savvy few will worry less about mass reach and focus more on grass roots appeal, providing content that their core target really wants. B2B marketers in particular will find that using informative videos that transform the complicated into the comprehensible will generate quality leads from grateful prospects.
  9. Mobile media
    Less than one-third of marketers had a budget for the mobile channel in 2009. In 2010, however, smart phone penetration should rise to at least 25% (up from 17% in Q2 2009) making it a lot easier to deliver a rich mobile experience that's worthy of consumers' attention. The blending of mobile and social apps like Facebook, Loop'd and Twitter has also created a new openness toward this medium. Given the desirable demographics (i.e. 18-34, annual income of US$75,000+) of smartphone owners, at the very least marketers should give strong consideration to creating a mobile friendly web site, allowing consumers to engage with the brand whenever or wherever they happen to be.
  10. Attitude is everything
    While honesty is clearly the way ahead, nobody really wants to hear bad news or pessimism all the time. A recent poll found relatively little enthusiasm and lots of indifference for adverts that refer to either the recession or an economic downturn. And, even if the economy is slow to recover in 2010, marketers will need to find an upbeat way of looking at things, and translate that positive attitude into both words and actions. Brands will encounter greater success with an upbeat message and an unimpeachable value proposition.

While 2009 may not have been easy for most marketers and brands, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the coming year. There are more ways than ever to engage consumers, and there is a new willingness on their part to engage with brands. Marketers are also showing a renewed desire to listen to their customers, and to offer meaningful information instead of disruptive messaging.