Friday Signal: It’s Complicated. Don’t Ask – But Do Tell.

Why do we love this industry? Well, it’s complicated. On the favorable front, last year digital advertising revenue increased 22 percent over 2010 — that’s terrific news for all of us in the industry … er, sort of….depending on your segment. If that’s too complicated, there’s always TIme, which happily presents the ten most turbo-charged sectors of the U.S. economy. On the gloomier side, there’s nothing but downward pressure on online ad rates, and plenty of questions about whether brands will keep spending given the fracturing of platforms in the face of Facebook’s growing dominance. Meanwhile, clients are getting wise to their agencies’ technology plays (sometimes, too much play). To the links:

Internet Ad Revenue Totals $31 Billion in 2011 (Clickz) The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Internet Advertising Report reveals that digital advertising revenue totaled $31 billion in 2011. That represents an increase of 22 percent over 2010. Yay for us! But…take out mobile, search and programmatic, and the numbers would tell quite a different tale.

Facebook Tests ‘Trending Articles’ in Newsfeed  (Mashable) FB’s prominent new feature, Trending Articles, which Mashable calls “more annoying than helpful,” is designed to promote only articles from social reading apps, not the most popular news articles being shared on Facebook from across the web. Not only is Facebook trying harder and harder to be a media company, but also its attempting to redefine the word “trending.” Can this church lady dance?

The Jig Is Up: Time to Get Past Facebook and Invent a New Future (The Atlantic)  The future that tech visionaries imagined in the late 1990s is here. So now what? The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal ponders that question: “For at least five years, we’ve been working with the same operating logic in the consumer technology game. … I want us to get back to those exciting days where people were making predictions about the affordances of the future that seemed wonderful and impossible.” Yeah, what he said.

Why Earned Media Alone Won’t Cut It (Digiday) All you need to do is take a look at Facebook, where just ten percent of fans actually see a brand’s content organically, to understand that earned media doesn’t replace the need for paid media. Brands need some of that lovely paid and owned. Oh, and yes, FM can help.

The Top Ten Fastest-Growing Industries in America (Time) Sure, some rising industry sectors are apparent (generic pharmaceutical manufacturing, for example), but others might surprise you. Take hot sauce production, for example. In 20 years, Frank’s Red Hot just might be as popular with Americans as Coke.

Are Agency Trading Desks Headed For Trouble? (Digiday) As agency clients become more familiar with real-time media buying, they’re beginning to think carefully about where their money is going, prompting them to ask difficult questions about the relationships behind the technologies their agencies choose to utilize. Let’s clarify: Clients are wising up to the arb some of their agencies and vendors are executing.

Media: What’s Past is Prologue (aweissman.com)  Is the future of media to be found in its past? Perhaps, if you know where to look. Weissman believes that “branded tastemakers” should take center stage at media companies. “If we strip out distribution, promotion and marketing as core competencies,” he suggests, “the role of the media company might be, quite simply: curated products chosen by a small group of people who just have better taste than everyone else.” Taste matters and, when paired with content-related principles, it could make all the difference in the world.

TECHNOLOGY: Are We Running Out of Spectrum?  (NYTimes) The electromagnetic spectrum, that is. The FCC says that demand for spectrum could exceed supply by 2013. Meanwhile, wireless companies say that smartphones are threatening to overwhelm their networks, so they want the government to help. But some experts maintain that technology already has the answers. (video)

Making the web work for major brands  (Google) More on Google’s Brand Activate initiative, a new effort to re-imagine online measurement for brand marketers and to help brands turn measurement into action, immediately. Just a quick thought – how weird would it be to see a post like this from Google just three or four years ago? Really weird. Right?

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