Next week, I’ll represent Aarki at the Interactive Advertising Bureau forum in Milan where industry experts and members will gather to reaffirm their commitment to digital in Italy. Digital ad spending in Italy fell in early fall, although we expect it to increase by the end of year. The majority of advertisers spent their budgets on the World Cup activities in June/July, causing a drop in early fall spend. To see the forest through the trees, overall, Italy is making significant strides in digital communication, but in order to pick up the pace of growth Italy needs to overcome three major hurdles.
Italy needs educated young professionals who are digital savvy and have an entrepreneurial mindset to start from scratch, to create digital-based startups. Many professionals under 30 leave Italy, because local companies do not appeal young professionals. This has happened for several reasons, but has certainly left a mark on the Italian workplace. When digital-based startups and companies attract the Italians who left to come home, they also invite home their digital savvy and consumer habits. The quicker these folks integrate into the Italian workforce and population, the faster digital communications will grow in Italy.
Tradition is King.
The majority of advertising budgets in Italy are still funneled to offline media sources. Television accounts for more than half and print media accounts for more than 20% of the media market share. Again, there are several reasons tradition is still king, but certainly one of the top reasons is politics. Online spending only accounts for a 7.5% media market share, but as the company’s politics and demographics evolve, the pace of growth for digital should increase rapidly.
Research and Development.
There is a lack of investment in the research and development of digital communication at many Italian companies, therefore, many still solicit a direct demand salesforce and managed services. To push digital forward faster, companies and Italian venture capitalists need to be open to investing in the time it takes to engineer great digital communication systems.
Although there are a few key challenges to overcome, there is a huge opportunity for Italy to move quickly once these are addressed. Italy’s growth in mobile use is not unique in comparison to other countries, but what is unique is that mobile commerce is growing with it. Marketers should look to Italy now, knowing that the country has a huge ROI potential because when the market share shifts, it will do so quickly. Italian mobile monetization has already taken off with traffic at an estimated value upwards of $350 million in 2014. Contact us to learn how to monetize mobile with joyful creative in Italy and around the world. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to meet at the IAB Milan forum next week.