Teresa Sperti

Australia's top 5 defining digital moments of 2012

With days until Xmas, it's time to reflect on the year that was for the Australian digital industry. It's been a BIG year in digital with a lot of industry firsts and some interesting legislation that makes it just that bit tougher for brands to leverage important digital channels.

No 5 Moment: Online advertising spend trumps press

A report published by the Commercial Economic Advisory Service Australia (CEASA) in September revealed online advertising spend for the first 6 months of the year surpassed that of print for the first time ever down under. That brings online advertisings market share (which is now second only to TV) to 24.2% in the period concerned, compared to 24.4% for free TV and 21.6% for newspapers. Online advertising spend is now forecast to overtake TV advertising in 2013 as brands attempt to reach fragmenting audiences.

This data reinforces the tectonic shift that is upon us – as some of the country’s biggest brands shift their marketing budgets towards online. So significant in fact has the shift been to digital that CommBank estimates that 40 – 45% of the marketing budget is now spent on digital whilst Telstra is now spending 30 – 35% online. As this shift continues, it will drive demand for skilled digital resources to manage channel activities and derive value from online spend – which brings me nicely to my next moment……..

No 4 Moment: The law waves its big stick at brands on social media
When the Advertising Standards Bureau ruled that Facebook pages managed by brands are a form of advertising – alarm bells started ringing and brands begun to tighten controls around Facebook moderation. In landmark cases liquor brands Diageo and Fosters, felt the wrath of the ASB, as they handed down the verdict that all content shared on a branded social media page either by the brand or a fan constitutes advertising. For brands the challenge is now not only to moderate social platforms around the clock, but how to allow consumers to freely express their opinions (in the true spirit of social media) without breaching ABS code of ethics.

No 3 Moment: Digital makes it onto the top 5 skills in demand
With digital a top priority of many executives around the country (particularly in the retail space); brands are bolstering their digital capability. Unfortunately however the widening gap of the have and have nots on the knowledge front has meant in June, senior digital marketers were named as one of the 5 hardest jobs to fill in Australia. Whilst this comes as little surprise to me, this is a clear wake up call to traditional marketers to up-skill themselves. Education providers particularly universities also need to step up to the plate and expand their digital curriculum to support the rising demand of digital skills required to support the digital economy.

No 2 Moment: Newspapers think digital first
With readership numbers of traditional format newspapers dwindling, 2012 marks the year of acceptance by publishers of the commercial inevitability that is under way in the media industry worldwide. In July Fairfax announced it would downsize its workforce by 1,900 people and shut down major printing plants, which was the clearest sign to date that it must become a digitally led company as eyeballs continue to migrate online. News Ltd shortly followed with its announcement of job losses and a shift in focus to think digital first. For brands still reliant on print advertising, this is a clear wake up call to begin to shift spend to digital as traditional formats start to shrink in size and audiences continue to trend downwards. The captain and crew are starting to abandon ship – you don’t want to be the last one standing.

No 1 Moment: ClickFrenzy sends sites into meltdown
Still fresh in consumers’ minds, we can’t reflect on 2012 without mentioning ClickFrenzy. Whilst the sale that stops the nation – stopped before it started – no one can deny the impact it has had on raising the profile of eCommerce in Australia. According to NABs Online Sales Index, online sales volumes at participating retailers were three times higher than the previous Tuesday. The analysis also revealed that even those retailers that were not officially involved in Click Frenzy experienced a 30 per cent increase in online sales during the same 24-hour period.

Not only however did ClickFrenzy raise the profile of eCommerce – it also put Australia’s online retailers through their paces – identifying weaknesses in their current strategy. The most significant and wide reaching issue experienced by retailers were technical difficulties (i.e. site speed issues and even sites crashing) during the sale, which will drive internal reviews of their infrastructure in the coming months.


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Teresa Sperti Teresa Sperti
Company: Coles Liquor
Position: Marketing Manager - Digital & Loyalty

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