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This year is the year of many things. The year of attribution. The year of native advertising. The year that term “SMB” loses its meaning. The year that marks the tipping point in digital transformation. It’s going to be a busy year.

Every January, BIA/Kelsey analysts apply their experience, knowledge and gut instincts to divine the likely key trends and developments for the coming year. Next week BIA/Kelsey will release these premonitions in its 2014 “Analyst Picks & Predictions” report.

To preview the report, we gathered a sampling of our analysts on a Google Hangout to share a few of this year’s picks. Joining me were VP of Consulting and social media maven Jed Williams and the newest member of the BIA/Kelsey analyst team, Senior Director of Industry Strategy & Insight Abid Chaudhry.

Williams offer the prediction that “Native Advertising Achieves Local Scale.” Rather than re-purposing an ad format designed for a different medium, native exploits the characteristics of a new form. Facebook’s Sponsored Stories is perhaps the mostly widely cited example of this.

To date, native has not achieved local scale, largely because it is so  new. Very small, local businesses tend to be advertising laggards rather than trendsetters.

Williams contends the stars are aligning for the “gradual movement of native advertising downstream, to be more accessible to the sell side [local resellers] and a bit more accessible to the buys side, to [include] some small businesses.”

So what’s happening to drive this trend? More efforts to adopt standards around ad formats, creative and campaign metrics, all of which make it easier for local sellers to offer native, and for local buyers to wrap their heads around it. Williams cautioned that very small business adoption of native is still a ways off. He cast the conversation about native in the larger context of content marketing. Until small businesses fully understand and embrace content marketing, they are not likely to embrace its progeny native advertising.

Picking up on the very small business discussion, Chaudhry predicted that in 2014, marketers will essentially blow up the old SMB (small and medium size businesses) definition and replace it with a newer segmentation that is ultimately more useful.

“To Jed’s point, content marketing, engagement marketing and the need for standardization of how we approach the omni-channel focus of all the different kinds of things a small business can do will force solutions providers to start rethinking how they look at what an SMB actually is,” Chaudhry said.

So what will this entail? A much clearer segmentation in how marketers approach very small businesses vs. mid-size local businesses vs. national-local (franchisees and local dealers) businesses.

Finally I offered the prediction that other global directory players will announce they are following the path of the Nordics publisher Eniro, which announced last year that in 2014 it will publish its last print Yellow Pages directory in its core market Sweden (that decision had already been implemented in Norway). Eniro was rewarded for its decision with a substantial boost in its share price.

Sign up for next week’s webinar to hear more of BIA/Kelsey’s annual Picks & Predictions.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Do you see native advertising as just paid distribution of content marketing on 3rd party sites? Or is there something more nuanced and meaningful there?

    Aren’t a ton of SMBs using email (i.e. content marketing) right now? Is the longer arc of adoption for native advertising? Where do you see the gap in “content marketing” from where we are now?

    When are you inviting me on the program? 😉

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