The OMMA Global event going on in New York this week is spawning a stream of tweets, articles and blog posts of interest. OMMA stands for Online Media, Marketing & Advertising, and is a magazine property of MediaPost Communications. The first piece of good news came in a post that projected a worldwide gain in digital media from 13% of all spending to 15%, with an expected total internet spend of $65 billion in 2010. It is worth noting that in the US, the digital share is expected to reach 17%. The drivers of the robust gain in the US are search and video, whereas mobile is a greater driver outside the US. US banner ads and sponsorships are actually declining. As digital signage person, this leads me to the conclusion that context really matters, and that advertisers recognize this. Rob Norman, CEO of GroupM Interaction, which presented the forecast, has a great insight on this, saying:

“Search marketing is becoming intention marketing and is moving beyond results pages to activating and responding to the social graph.”

Well, I don’t know what the “social graph” is, but I do love the idea of “intention marketing”, and I believe that soon advertisers will awaken to the fact that digital signage in the right venue is an opportunity well beyond the results page, and very possibly a more effective way to spend advertising dollars creating and satisfying intentions. In the online context, search is attractive because advertisers can infer some interest, if not intent. If one Googles “arthritis”, there is a reasonable chance that they have a vested interest in learning more, and may be susceptible to a pitch for some sort of therapeutic relief. And pitch they do, at least for now. If one assumes that the shift of dollars from Internet banner/display advertising to search engine advertising was driven by the higher value of inferred intent, then is it a great leap to think that the next shift will be from search results to contextually relevant out of home networks where intent is joined by availability?

The second post of note was a bit puzzling to me, but raised questions. One of the featured speakers was Jon Miller, the CEO of News Corp.’s Digital Media Group. His comments were widely covered. In one observation, Miller postulated that the gap between online ad spending and usage was 3 to 1. Blogger Nina Lentini notes that this means, “…advertisers are spending a third of the money they should, given the amount of time that they spend online.” In the same post, Terence Kawaja asserts that Miller is underestimating the size of the gap, because users are spending a greater percentage of their online time in social channels. I am not sure how Mr. Miller or others arrive at the ratio of usage to spending, or why they are concerned that it feels so far out of line. However, they are in agreement that there is money on the sidelines looking for a home. If advertisers are “underspending” online by a significant amount, it would seem to imply that there is unmet demand for vehicles for their various campaigns. If those needs could be met efficiently online, the dollars would have been spent. I think the advertisers are actively looking for a better answer. Talk amongst yourselves and draw your own conclusions.

Signs continue to point to a fertile environment for massive gains in ad spending in our channel. We need to keep working toward standards, measures and quality offerings in order to start the ball rolling in earnest. If the high road doesn’t bring quick results, maybe we should practice intention marketing and get digital signage onto the first page of results when someone searches for “efficient digital media”.