Last week’s AIMS event in Toronto featured a panel of senior internet executives prognosticating on the future of the net. Panel members Nick Barbuto of Cossette Media, Adam Froman of Delvinia and Jean-Philippe Gauthier of Sympatico/MSN gave a thumbs up on the state of the industry and shared their comments on the AIMS State of the Net-Nation Survey responses, the questions they are getting from clients and where they are focusing their upcoming online marketing efforts.
There were three key points they made:
Search is still in its infancy, therefore expect greater developments coming, cookies will be even more essential in delivering site experience, flash-based video for interactive advertising will be more popular, RSS is a revolution, email needs a revolution, and blogging is (gasp) just a fad.
Search – as readers at One Degree know search is huge and getting huger. New developments have been covered previously here on One Degree, and will continue as search evolves. The panel expressed the need to commit resources long term to site optimization, where you can get the greatest bang for your buck, but it needs management and tweaking on a continuous basis.
Cookies – reliance on cookies to deliver a good site experience will be more essential as sites become more personalized, deliver more functionality or require registration to access specific sections or articles. To that end, flash-based cookies are replacing text-based as they are able to contain more information and are not impacted by browser versions. Unknown is how well this switch will be received by users, as flash cookies are harder to delete. Will browser developers be upgrading their apps to assist users looking for greater control over information?
Interactive Flash-based Ads – just to note I’m personally seeing more of them. Just visit globeandmail.com or mochasofa.com, the ad frenzy is in full swing! Just remember to turn them off on your registration or subscription pages (sounds obvious but you’d be surprised…).
RSS is a Revolution – in its ability to transmit and distribute content. Full impact still to be realized, and marketing opportunities still being explored.
Email Needs a Revolution – the panelists are seeing more emphasis on optimizing transaction emails (such as purchase or subscription confirmations) than using email for acquisition or even cross-sell among current customers. But as JG Gaulthier pointed out, more emphasis needs to be paid on personalization and relevance. I agree (rubbing hands gleefully), and getting some ideas to share at a later date.
Blogging is (choke) Just a Fad – at least so said the panel. I admit, I’m a later convert to blogging certainly than blogging evangelist Ken. But discussion boards have been popular since the net started, as have been online diaries, and blogs ave similar characteristics. Jamie Oliver’s site just won the people’s choice Webbie, and I believe its appeal are the constant updates from Jamie and colleagues, via his blog and photos. While it may not be necessary or appropriate for everyone to blog, the format has appeal and makes it easier for everyone to communicate. I can’t see it going away, but anticipate greater methods to archive and search a blog’s content.
What the panel really want is a way to monetize blogs, which they complained were international and niche-oriented and therefore not as appealing for sponsorship. At least not for their clients. But as a customer relations and relationship tool, I think we have yet to see its potential realized.
Over all, we in the ‘net industry are all feeling more optimistic and looking forward to more advances than we’ve seen in a long time. Looks like a busy fall.