new media age’s latest columnist Alex Tait will be focusing on the key issues faced by advertisers in digital media.

Now in its twelfth year, the ISBA Digital Action Group is the advertisers’ forum for knowledge sharing and for actions to enhance their freedom to advertise responsibly. ISBA is the UK’s leading trade body for advertisers and our digital agenda is informed by our annual survey of members. This key canvass helps us to get a sense of, and to validate, any assumptions we have as to what the priorities are for the industry. We ask two simple questions: first, what areas are most important for the advertiser’s business; and second, the trends that they want to trial or roll out further over the coming year.

Nowadays, even the most competent digital advertiser struggles to keep up with everything happening in the digital space and I think that is borne out in this year’s responses to the question around trends. However, look at the top three issues that advertisers think are important to their business and I think it shows not only the new and shiny that dominates the national and trade press but mainly areas that advertisers want to genuinely understand more that affect or could affect their bottom line.

Compare this to the predictions that were made from various industry commentators (including myself) in new media age’s Advent Calendar series in December and you will see some of the familiar areas that you would expect. It comes as no surprise that we’ve got social media and mobile up there because consumers’ use of both these areas races ahead of a lot of businesses’ ability to adapt to the changing environment. However, it is also interesting to see measurement and SEO at number two and three respectively. I’m pretty sure both received very little or no coverage in anyone’s predictions but for advertisers, they remain top priorities.

Measurement is always high because it needs to evolve with emerging forms of media and technology. However, let’s not forget that for many advertisers, search is still the biggest source of acquisition – and SEO for many brands remains as much art as science and difficult to crack.
Compared to a year ago there are some new concerns to the poll. Foremost among these, of course, is the issue that advertisers rated the most important – complying with the ePrivacy Directive, up from number three last year. The looming May deadline set by the ICO and the general lack of clear guidance means that this has finally surfaced as a major concern. The penalty of non compliance for advertisers (a fine of up to £500,000) sharpens the focus somewhat.
Do these issues resonate with your brand? With the accelerating pace of everything digital, we’d love to have your perspective in our knowledge-sharing forums and to have more ISBA members keen to get involved in ensuring that advertisers’ voices are heard among the various debates that will be at the forefront of the industry this year. Contact David Ellison if you are interested in taking part at

 Alex Tait is chair of the ISBA Digital Action Group and director of international digital acquisition at American Express



Published 13 February, 2012 by NMA Staff

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