My friend owns a small law firm in Southern Maine. In years past he would take out ads in local newspapers, radio, and TV stations. Every year, a sales person from each of these local media properties would call him up to negotiate a package of ads. He had only a vague idea of the ROI these ads drove, but it was the only way he knew how to spread awareness of his services as far and wide as possible within his target market.
In the early 2000s, he finally got a website up and running and gradually learned how to optimize the web experience to generate meaningful inbound leads. At first only a few visitors would trickle in from search engines and legal directories every day. Yet slowly but surely, the website came to account for a significant share of his new business. And more and more of his clients began to expect that he should have a website for reference to his work, whether that’s how they first found him or not. Lately he’s learned to bring in even more leads through successful paid placements on Google search results. Most of his marketing budget has now shifted from traditional media to the web.
By 2020 though, he’ll be probably back to advertising on local TV, online radio, his town’s digital newspaper, and all surviving forms of traditional media (though they will have become digitalized to such an extent that they shouldn’t properly be called traditional). The ROI from the digital TV, online radio, and e-newspaper ads will be just as accurately measurable as that from traditional Google ads is today. He will shop around for access to his target audience across all media channels through a single centralized portal, with greater convenience to himself and at a lower cost than is possible today—even outbidding major brands for the opportunity to display his ad to the right, local match for potential customer. The ad portal will know everything worth knowing about this best match, and be able to target it with amazing granularity.
Who will route these various ads for him, creative included? Who will run this streamlined portal directly interfacing with all media channels? Who will optimize the bidding and matching process between various shoppers and their respective target markets? Google—of course.
The economies of scale that Google commands in the mediascape are increasingly harder to compete against. When even Facebook is letting Google do the selling of its ads, sooner or later cable companies, TV networks, and other digital brands that can reach individual consumers will have no choice but to outsource at least part of their ad inventory management to Google too in order to maximize their revenue. There is too much money flowing through Google for any publisher to say no to. Google can optimize production and placement costs across all the various media as no one else can. And through Google+ combined with real-time search insights and its other properties, it can centralize knowledge on each Internet user’s traits and activity, making it the best-informed judge as to who makes the best audience for any particular ad.
The future of all advertising belongs to Google.
How do you prepare?
If you aren’t familiar with Google Adwords yet, you better get started—quickly.