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Canada's Net-Nation Future: Thumbs Up!

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.

To elaborate:
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 or, 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.


  1. Kevin Jackson
    Kevin Jackson August 6, 2005

    I gave the Net-Nation stuff a miss because I thought it was going to be more infomercials and I am up to here with those, but your summary has me thinking it might have been an interesting event, although there is the summary …
    I have to beg to differ with the one conclusion about RSS. RSS has been around for many years and it never caught on then in the mainstream, as I am convinced it will not now. It has it’s purposes and it works well for some specialized needs, but I maintain it is not a mainstream application and never will be.
    It is asking too much of both the publishers and the users: publishers have to create a clean feed, and then keep it alive with good enough content to keep people interested. Look at how many bad websites there are out there, even brochureware that hasn’t been updated in five years is better than the huge percentage of businesses and organizations who have yet to publish their first basic website!
    As for the users: they have to install another program on their computer just to receive an RSS feed, when they are barely coping with the software they already have (e.g. email, spam, viruses, etc.).
    Sorry guys, I just don’t see it. Maybe in the world of PR and media junkies where you have to monitor scads of media publications, not to mention the newswires, competitors, and industry sources, RSS is a useful tool, but as a way of reaching the mainstream public I think we are still at least another ten years away.
    Just my opinion.

  2. Mitch Solway
    Mitch Solway August 19, 2005

    I posted this response to the Net Nation event on the AIMS ADL list…
    The recent “State of the Net Nation” was a great event and spent most of its time on the technology front focusing on new channels and tools for communication. One area that was not really touched on however was the importance of the actual “content” that would fill up these new channels and use the new tools.
    The Internet has blessed us with access to and interactive participation with our audience like never before. However, consider that the tools and technology are open and available to virtually anybody – including our competitors. Despite all the technological advances the playing ground remains level. In this way the “state” of the technology will never really create unique opportunities for any one company to own.
    Instead, it will be the fundamentals of marketing that will distinguish us from our competition. Our ability to create a powerful connection with our customers. Our efforts to play some larger role in their lives. The ability to truly understand our business and how our customers can participate in the most rewarding and successful way.
    This distinction is increasingly important as our customers eventually become inundated with messages as the array of communication tools and the number of companies putting out their messages continues to escalate.
    This core marketing is not easy work. It does not exist out there with the technology that is so tempting to rely upon.
    But to truly create a break through online it is indeed required work. What can you do to achieve this? Create the agenda. Educate internally. Pull on resources to help make your case. As marketers we know we can do more, but we are often so busy doing less.
    This approach can liberate us from the restrictions of technology and actually allow it to give us access to a higher level of participation in the online marketing arena. Delivering a stronger, more sustainable and more profitable business.

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