Goodbye fuzzy ROI, hello WiFi: Deloitte’s annual Global TMT Predictions

High returns predicted for reaching consumers on - where else? - their phones.

Deloitte’s global TMT Predictions, released today, offer the media and tech industry some recession-proof insight for 2009: print is still dying; smaller events will bring in bigger bucks; and the future is in niche media marketing to WiFi radio listeners and smartphone users.

The technology and media predictions are based on input from more than 6,000 Deloitte clients, industry analysts and TMT specialists. This year, research also included in-depth interviews with 50 TMT C-level executives from around the world.

While only 0.4% of total ad spending last year was on mobile phones, the study predicts that a better understanding of the medium will make it a category where spending continues to grow by 200% to 300% per year, says Duncan Stewart, director of Deloitte Canada Research.

‘The problem we had with mobile advertising – we thought it was, ‘How do we show people Super Bowl ads on their cellphones?’ And that was the wrong question,’ Stewart tells MiC. ‘As more people have smartphones, you can do more graphic ads, but even on your basic phone…there’s a lot you can do with SMS. It doesn’t necessarily have to be full motion video.’

As people look at their phones possibly hundreds of times per day, sending them notifications about their favourite bands or products, for instance, would have a higher return in this untapped market. It will also open the door for integrated ad campaigns, says Stewart. But the campaigns have to be designed for the individual mediums, not just repackaged, he warns. ‘You have to have an ad campaign where you’ve got an SMS version that works for those phones, but isn’t the same as the TV version,’ he says.

Deloitte’s research also predicts that the print industry will be decimated in 2009, with one in 10 print publications ceasing print publication entirely. This analysis comes on the heels of an Ipsos-Reid poll, published yesterday, that finds Canadians rely on newspapers for trustworthy information during bad economic times. Thirty per cent of those surveyed in December for the Canadian Newspaper Association said they turned more often to newspapers for analysis of the recent economic downturn, while 27% – including better-educated and wealthier respondents – said they are more likely to read newspapers when making decisions about personal finances.

Readership and content are not the only aspects considered in Deloitte’s prediction, however. While loss of subscribers and plummeting advertising are big parts of the reason for the 20% to 30% drop in ad revenue in the US last year, media buyers choosing avenues where they can measure their ROI is another factor, says Stewart.

‘The classic ‘I put an ad in the newspaper and I hope seven people pick it up in a doctor’s office’ is one that media buyers are pushing back on, saying, ‘If I can’t measure it, I’m less happy with paying that price,” Stewart says.

A trend that should get advertisers excited is the consumer-tracking potential of WiFi. By accessing the IP address of wireless radio listeners, stations could decide whether to air national or regional ads, or the type of local ads that would be most beneficial to sponsors, says Stewart. ‘You’ll even be able tell when the radio is on and when it isn’t, which you wouldn’t be able to do with your standard clock radio. It will be happening this year,’ says Stewart of the technology.

There’s also good news for independent artists and community events: minor league teams, fringe theatre and indie music and film will do well this year, as people still want the entertainment, but for a smaller price and in more intimate settings, Deloitte predicts.

As many big-ticket events have been subsidized by the troubled auto and bank industries, ‘We expect to see the price of sponsorship decline,’ says Stewart. ‘There’ll be smaller venues, smaller acts – but even at the larger acts, fewer fireworks and lasers.’