As the end of the year approaches, it is time to look into the crystal ball and make predictions about what will happen in the industry in the upcoming year in 2009. Given the state of the economy it is going to be a wild year with lots of opportunity for those who choose to take advantage of and a grim year for those that choose to ignore the Internet and the way it has fundamentally changed commerce.
Predictions for 2009:
1) Many companies will go bust because a recession/depression and the associated decrease in consumer demand, the credit crunch and other economic forces will separate the smart, focused, efficient businesses that have adapted to the web from those that simply refuse to see what is right in front of their own noses.
2) Pay for performance (aka affiliate marekting models) will continue to thrive and maybe, just maybe, the corporate folks will take off their blinders, stop “branding” and start listening.
3) Big global media agencies and the media properties they spend a lot of money with will struggle. Agencies and media properties will lay off tens of thousands of people because they are unable to adapt to the new consumer driven marketplace.
4) There will be little if any growth in most online advertising including search and online display media and there will be huge opportunities to stock up on the stocks of the likes of Google, Yahoo!, Amazon and other online pure plays that will be the future of the economy. That lack of online advertising spending growth will not be due to lack of opportunity but the lack of companies to figure out how to effectively use the medium in front of them.
5) 2009 will be the “baby boom” for Internet companies. With potentially millions of layoffs in all sectors and tens or hundreds of thousands in the tech & Internet sector, there will be lots of fresh fertile minds with no mindless job sucking the life out of them who will stop looking for a job and instead create their own opportunities and build new companies.
6) Lots more companies will test the waters of social media only to be able to track little to no ROI from social media. Since social media is still considered “experimental” and it is hard to quantify the value, enthusiasm for it will wane even though tracking the value of billions spent on traditional media is something most companies are unable to do.
7) Companies that utilize the search data in front of them, rebuild their sites (and maybe their businesses) based on search data and personas and deliver sites, products and services demanded by the marketplace will thrive and may grow exponentially.
8) YouTube and other video sites will start to have some real live shows and “channels” that can attract real advertising revenue that may deliver an ROI for the advertisers.
9) This will be the make or break year for smaller online agencies. A tight economy will force them to get their shit together or go out of business unless they purposely choose to stay small and focused on core services that are demanded by the marketplace.
10) Omniture and to a lesser degree other analytics vendors will be acquisition targets simply because of all the data they have and will be able to command a nice premium over their current stock or estimated private values.
11) Microsoft will continue to struggle on the web but may be able to buy other companies that will being in fresh thinking, new minds and new perspectives that can help them be less dependent on packaged software sales.
12) The X-Box may become Microsofts strongest foray into the online world and enable Microsoft to finally get a foothold in the Internet even though their search business will continue to flounder.
13) CPG, financial and other large companies with huge brand budgets will continue to struggle online. When the top management is either replaced or becomes willing to listen to the up and coming Internet savvy junior level employees or consultants, there will be a HUGE demand for quality site design, development and marketing services that actually help sell cases and financial services products.
14) The number of research and analytics tools available in the marketplace will continue to explode. Some will be very useful but only a select few people and companies will be able to figure out how to use the data in front of them.
15) The basics of the Internet won’t change and the companies that embrace them will thrive. The basics include: fast download times, relevant ad and website copy, creating sites and businesses based on consmer demand and not on “branding” push, simple, easy to use navigation and site design and adopting a conversational approach to marketing (instead of just talking about it).
If you want to thrive in 2009, just get back to basics. Remember that your Internet marketing should start with your site, not with your marketing. Make things fast, easy and intuitive for those people you are trying to reach or sell to. Re-read the ClueTrain Manifesto and pay attention. It is more accurate now than ever.