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Top-10 2006 Emarketing Tech Predictions
By Robert Rose
Which tech developments will change the face of emarketing next year? Crown Peak's VP of sales looks into his crystal ball.
There is a great scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," when the Ark of the Covenant has just been loaded on the plane for Cairo. Indy has just rescued Marion, and as they watch the truck drive away, she asks him what he's going to do next. "I don't know," he says. "I'm making this up as I go along."
That's an all too familiar scenario for digital marketers this year -- and what a year it's been. Google's stock price doubled from an already unbelievable $200 per share to more than $400. Podcasting, blogs and RSS feeds became part of day-to-day conversations, and, digital marketing found its legs maintaining its position as the fastest growing spending sector for advertising. According to the IAB, web ad spending will surpass $12 billion this year.
As we all take a collective breath and start our planning and budgeting processes for 2006, and since I'm doing so well in my fantasy football picks for this year, I thought I'd jump head first into the prognostications for digital marketing and technology for next year.
Here are my top ten digital marketing predictions for 2006:
#1) Software delivered over the internet goes mainstream
2006 will be remembered as the year that hosted software went mainstream. With Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! leading the way, expect more and more business and productivity applications to be delivered over the internet. This year will be the "tipping point" for this delivery model, and the exciting thing for digital marketers is that every tool we need can be deployed using it.
What does that mean for digital marketing? IT can now truly (and honestly) be removed from the digital marketing equation. Marketing departments can get out of the software development business and focus on their core function -- selling.
#2) Google expands AdSense to provide digital ad management and reporting
Google's recent announcement to offer free website analytics certainly doesn't fundamentally change the existing analytics business. But DoubleClick and 24/7 beware. In 2006, when Google combines their analytics product with AdSense and adds the ability for publishers to manage and publish their own ad inventory, they'll really have a full-bodied offering for web publishers.
#3) Podcasting (both audio and video) explodes in 2006
In 2005, it was clear that it was tech geeks who were not only creating, but subscribing to podcasts. In 2006, big entertainment companies will jump into podcasting headfirst, but only after somebody figures out a way to measure advertising and viewership.
Audible recently launched "Wordcast," an attempt at measurement, but an independent source is needed (Hello? Is somebody at the IAB reading this?). Then, terrestrial radio and television will jump on the bandwagon and start offering ad inventory for podcasts. A business-to-business marketing service will also launch (a la iTunes), offering white papers, online demos, presentations and industry briefings as podcasts.
#4) New & improved analytics solutions emerge
In 2006, existing online analytics companies (as well as a new entrant or two) will offer new products that further tie together the measurement of search marketing, online advertising, Web traffic, affiliate marketing and click-stream analysis across customer segments and qualitative analysis over content. This will provide desperately needed business intelligence on where marketing dollars are most effective.
There are already signs that the contextual search marketing space has room for more than just Google. Yahoo! Publisher is in beta. Microsoft will assuredly get into the game and smaller competitors like Quigo will give publishers greater control over the type of ads that are placed within the context of their site. In 2006, new entrants will emerge with vertical search marketing solutions that offer more targeted and more valuable marketplaces for both advertisers and customers.
#6) Web companies give ad agencies a run for their money
In 2006, with so much money moving online, traditional advertising agencies will be taking a serious look at web agencies again because of their comprehensive capabilities in online marketing, branding and search marketing. And, one-time niche agencies like SEO, wireless and email will be finding a much more strategic role with CMOs.
The rise of Google's Gmail and Toolbar has fundamentally changed the landscape for how applications can be offered using an advertising model. Look for new online applications from everybody from Microsoft to the next Sergey and Larry to feature product placement and advertising opportunities for the savvy marketer.
#8) We're all publishers in 2006
At ad:tech this year, I was struck by Lexus' VP of Marketing Debora Wahl-Meyer's talk about an "open architecture" style of communication. The ownership of the relationship between eyeball and media has really shifted to the consumer. You have to develop a trusted relationship by providing value to the relationship before they've bought from you. In 2006, savvy marketers will begin to create programs that establish that relationship. This is primarily going to come in the form of content. Whether it's a how-to on using products you sell, or creating affinity based content that relates to your customer base, it will be up to the digital marketer to create independent, high-value content for their customers. Look for turnkey and specialized suites of technology solutions to emerge for marketers to make, distribute and generate leads from this content -- whether it's content publishing systems, podcasting or webcasting.
#9) The time-shifted world is coming -- linear broadcast is dead
In 2006, savvy marketers will start looking beyond the linear broadcasting of cable television and radio toward product placement and sponsorship within content. TiVo, DVRs, BitTorrent, Video Podcasts (dare I use the term VodCasts?), iPods and Media Rich Cell Phones will transform television and satellite radio networks into repositories of content to which devices can subscribe. In 2006 it doesn't matter what time it's on, it only matters when you watch it. Look for new types of advertising opportunities in entertainment creation, sponsorship and product placement.
#10) 2006 -- The beginning of the end of look and feel on the web
In the spirit of the always over-reaching prognostications that are traditional for Internet predictions, I think this is the one that fundamentally changes the game of digital marketing.
2006 is NOT the year that websites die. But it IS the first year that savvy publishers will pay much more attention to quality, and their ability to manage, parse, and publish their content for multiple outputs and devices. The "write once, publish many " paradigm will become critical for this to work. If I'm an online publisher selling advertising space -- this means a bonanza of new advertising and business opportunities.
Conversely, if I'm a marketer -- looking to market my ecommerce or online business in this new space, I need to make sure my message is available to as many people as possible. In 2006, it's not about whether my customer sees my colorful banner ad at the top of a page, it's about delivering the most relevant messages about my products and services to them just as they're looking for it, so that I'm immediately establishing a relevant and quality dialogue with the consumer.
There's no doubt that 2006 will be one of the most challenging and exciting years for digital marketing yet. So, throw on your Indiana Jones Fedora, put on that classic music and I'll see you on the other side…
About the Author:
Veteran Internet marketing executive Robert Rose joined CrownPeak as a vice president of sales and marketing in 2002 to drive these initiatives. Since coming aboard he has revamped the company's brand and messaging, as well as taken over the CrownPeak sales team. Previous to joining CrownPeak, he served as vice president of strategic planning for Ignited Minds, an advertising agency specializing in the entertainment and consumer electronics sectors.
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