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10 Predictions for the Online Marketing World In 2009

We are now one month and a bit into 2009.  There was tons of speculation prior to the beginning of the year as to how the online marketing world will fare this year, and what would happen.  Now that we're a few weeks into the current year, here are 10 “fearless” predictions for the interactive marketing space in 2009.

1) Online Advertising Prices Will Drop
This amounts to a simple case of supply and demand.  In our current recessionary time, there will be a sharp drop-off in advertising.  This will increase the availability of online inventory.  As a result, CPM rates will start to decrease as publishers and networks have to offer increasingly better deals in order to entice clients to their networks.   As well, there will be more CPA and CPC deals that will be offered as incentives in order for networks to prove that their sites can produce the results that clients are looking for.  Networks will certainly try and expand internationally in order to bridge the revenue gap, but will struggle initially to learn the monetization methods that have worked well in other markets.

2) Increased Importance of Analytics
In tight economic times, marketers are going to be even more preoccupied than usual with tracking where their money is going.  As such, customers are going to demand more hard in-depth data in order to justify their expenditures.  As such, analytics software will play more of a prevalent role in providing added value for clients.  Smart publishers will leverage this not only to show what is being done, but will use it to engage in more targeted advertising.  Google has already caught on to this trend by marrying its Adsense and Analytics software.  This enables it to know which key words/placements drive them to the site, and ultimately convert best for them (and prove to be more profitable).

3) Search Marketing Will Become Even More Prominent
In tough times, marketers will focus on those marketing initiatives that are more secure and strategic.  Search has the twofold advantage of not only enabling the advertiser to pay only on  a per click basis, but also allows the marketer to focus on  those with a direct interest in products or services related to their business.   The prominence of search marketing will increase not only because it targets search engine queries, but also because of the increased emphasis on targeted contextual based advertising as networks try and capitalize on ads that target visitors interests based on their prior online patterns

4) Increased Importance of SEO and Blended/Universal Search
As marketing costs become even more tightly controlled, the importance of organic search will intensify.  Advertisers will spend even more effort in order to get ranked higher on natural search engine results.  Blended search results produces rankings generated from news, press releases, blogs, videos, local and book search engines, among other sources.  Video forums and social communities are among the most effective ways of keeping content visible inside search engine result pages.  Therefore, in order to keep traffic coming to your site, a company’s online presence must be spread out among numerous sources.

5) Increased Emphasis on Specialized Social Media Sites
Brand advertising, as it traditionally has been done, employs a unilateral system of communication to your consumer.  The idea is to reach as many people as possible, once, across the board, with your message.  However, traditional advertising is expensive, not only because of the cost of creating an ad that works in multiple media formats, but also because there is no ongoing communication with your consumers.  This means that there is an inherent problem of not getting an ongoing response to your marketing efforts beyond traditional measurements of brand association and sales.  The advantages of targeted social media and specific community/interest based sites ( ex; Divapreneur,FuzzB)  is that it not only allows one to target those users with interests related to  your product /service but also enables you to receive instant and recurrent feedback about your brand.

6) Mobile Marketing Will NOT Take the Next Leap Forward
No one will argue that mobile marketing has taken on increased prevalence in the last few years, especially with the advent of the iPhone and the impending rise of the Blackberry Storm and the G1.  As 3G technology continues to improve, and as the logistics of mobile internet continue to improve, certainly more people will continue to experiment with mobile marketing through the use of widgets and other applications.  However, unlike many in the industry, I do not see 2009 as being the year where mobile marketing makes a tremendous leap forward and becomes a key part of companies’ interactive marketing mix.  Quite simply, the high costs of setting up a campaign, and the high costs to the consumer of such initiatives make this a risky and unpalatable option for the moment.  Certainly, there are many brands for which mobile makes sense because of their demographic, but in general, people will continue to adopt a wait and see approach in 2009.

7) Increased Prevalence of Brand Integration
In the same vein of showing more value for your clients, clever publishers will push do much more than offer your standard display banner ads  In an effort to do anything within reason to keep clients advertising on their sites, publishers will go the extra mile by offering creative ways to keep clients’ brands online.    Contests, skinning, and scattering a brand name in relevant sections on the site/network will be some of the many ways to show that their advertising is going a little bit further than the competition.

8) Social Clout Equals Capital
The reasons for this are inherently obvious.  Given that the online community is closely linked, the more people you are linked to, the better off you are.  People are slowly starting to realize that the real value of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace lies not so much in advertising on these sites, but on the viral impact that one can have within social sub networks.  Therefore, the more people of influence who feel positively about your brand, the better positioned you will be in the market place.

9) Segmented Email Marketing
With the increased importance of analytics and tracking the results of your marketing efforts, the generic wide scale email blast will slowly start to fall out of favor.  The emphasis will be more along the lines of sending more segmented, targeted emails that have relevant information that is of interest to every subsection of your customer base.

10) Caution
This is without a doubt the operative word for not only online marketing, but for business in general in 2009.   Not only are people going to be extremely selective as to how much money they money they spend on promotion, but they will be extraordinarily careful as to what sites they will invest in.  Agencies and direct advertisers are going to tend to want to invest in bigger names and proven performers.  This tends to favor networks over single sites, as well as strategic options like search and email marketing.  As a result, 2009 is unlikely to be the year of significant changes in online marketing practices.  What will be emphasized in planning for this year will be caution, value added features and strategic thinking above all else.

What are your thoughts?  Have I hit the mark?  Or do I need a new crystal ball?


  1. Corby Fine
    Corby Fine February 17, 2009

    Is it just me or do 1-5 sound a lot like the same predictions from 2008? This is not a slam on the author, rather an interesting comment on the fact that it takes a long time for issues to be resolved like making sure analytics are a key element of any marketing plan.

  2. John Kurien
    John Kurien February 17, 2009

    Corby you do have a valid point to some degree. It does take some time before people in the industry actually implement those things that they see as being important. This is especially true for examples 2-4. Of course, this is to be expected since sometimes predictions do take longer to materialize than 1 calendar year. However, I don’t think anyone has really talked much about falling advertising prices in the previous year, nor about the increased importance of specialized social media sites. Much of the talk was, and continues to be about how general social media sites like Facebook and Myspace would finally develop a profitable business model to capitalize on their traffic. This however has yet to happen, and it runs contrary to what I have written in points 1 and 5.

  3. SDJ
    SDJ February 17, 2009

    Corby beat me to the punch; about half of this list could have been written a year ago. Sure, some of these predictions could come true but not specifically due to anything uniquely 2009. The falling CPM bit is potentially wrong for a couple of reasons. 1 It only takes a mild shake up to force Darwin into action wiping out weak publishers and networks and potentially raising the industry eCPM. 2 so far in 2009, Premium networks and publishers are seeing an increase in spend as money continues to leave more traditional mediums, effectively raising the average CPMs. Had this prediction been made in 2001 would have been bang on.

  4. John Kurien
    John Kurien February 20, 2009

    Simon you are partly right to say that a lot of these predictions could have been written a year ago. This just indicates hat it takes quite a while for many marketing issues to resolve themselves As a result, there can be some repetition from year to year. On the issue of falling CPM rates, I think that while you could see a Darwinian shakeup, the reality is such a regrouping/re-ordering really takes more than 1 calendar year to occur. In any case, I’d be more than happy to revisit my predictions at the end of the year to see how I ended up doing.

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