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Twelve Months of Interactive Marketing

With 2005 drawing to a close, it’s time for the interactive advertising year in review. If you’re like me, you can’t remember what happened in July let alone way back in January, particularly where interactive marketing trends are concerned (have you noticed that there’s a considerable amount of overlap with these sorts of things?). With that in mind, I thought I’d offer a month by month recap of the units, formats, and channels that made this a watershed year for interactive marketing.
h3. January: Vlogs
Given the popularity of blogs in 2004, we had to expect the trend would continue this year. The newest blogs, however, were a lot richer. Video blogs (blogs that incorporate video clips) made their presence known this year, thanks to vlogs like Peter Jackson’s “Kong is King”: They’re sure to continue to flourish, thanks to distribution channels like multimedia search engines.
h3. February: Podcasting
Podcasting ended up being big all year long, but February “saw the introduction of the world’s first podcasting ad network”: Just think how much our “options have expanded”: since then.
h3. March: Online Video
After the Superbowl, which brought with it a number of TV ads that subsequently found audiences online (remember “GoDaddy?”:, marketers took a longer, harder look at online video. Can you think of a current online campaign that doesn’t include it?

h3. April: Alternate Reality Games (ARGs)
In April, Audi launched “The Art of the Heist,” a viral “Alternate Reality Game”: that had consumers searching online and off for clues to the mystery of the stolen Audi A3. While Audi’s ARG certainly “wasn’t the first”: of its kind, it has paved the way for all those interactive marketers who thought ARGs couldn’t effectively be used to market to the mainstream.
h3. May: Mobile Video
Before the release of Apple’s iPod Video, mobile video was already capturing marketers’ attention. While some “advertising opportunities”: do already exist, the days when we can produce mobile commercials and insert them into video content without a consumer backlash are likely to be a way off.
h3. June: Online TV
As if there wasn’t enough to watch on the actual “tube,” online TV took off this year in a big way. In June, a new online television network called “Music Plus TV”: launched, joining “ManiaTV!”: and “MTV Overdrive”: All continue to attract international audiences — not to mention offer countless opportunities for interactive media buyers to reach TV addicts on the Web.
h3. July: Brand Democratization
In July, “BusinessWeek magazine published a marketing article”: that cited the term “brand democratization.” Just like that, giving consumers a say in the way that brands and products are marketed became one of the hottest concepts of 2005.
h3. August: Viral Marketing
If there’s one trend that wasn’t confined to a single month, it’s viral marketing. By August, however, Gap had “launched its Watch Me Change”: application, and the Lucky Charms leprechaun was “tearing up the streets”: in his green Mini Cooper. The fact that there are far too many other viral efforts to mention is a true testament to the popularity of this now coveted marketing approach.
h3. September: Cross-Media Advertising
For television networks, there was no better time than September to launch cross-media advertising campaigns promoting the newest shows in the upcoming Fall TV line-up (according to comScore Media Metrix, the television category grew by 8 percent in this month alone). But cross-media advertising was on the minds of many marketers throughout the year. As consumers continue to split their time between online and offline media, it really behoves marketers to do the same.
h3. October: Shorter Ads
From “Cadillac’s Under 5 campaign”: that reflected the speed of its V series car, to Volkswagen’s “120 very short films promoting”: the new Passat, advertisers have found that shorter really can be better. While this probably isn’t a deliberate nod to the minimized attention spans of consumers, it’s certainly doubly beneficial in that respect.
h3. November: Consumer-Generated Media
“Crest Whitening”:, GM Canada, Kia Motors…these are just a few of the brands that asked consumers to participate in their product development initiatives and ad campaigns this year. My guess is that their potential customers view it as a welcome departure from the ad campaigns that simply tell them what to buy.
h3. December: Rich Media
Just the other day, AOL subsidiary “ made headlines”: by launching an automated, rich media-specific ad network. Not just limited to video ads, the network will support units created by Eyeblaster, PointRoll, and DART Motif — its “preferred” technology vendors. The network is expected to make rich media planning and buying even easier for interactive marketers, which in turn is sure to boost the use of this technology even more.
Yes, all of that happened in 2005. Just think what this next year could bring.