The following is excerpted from my friend Larry Chase's Web Digest for Marketers. Enjoy it with his compliments as part of his celebration of ten years publishing the digest...
To herald this 10-year anniversary of publishing WDFM, I present to you my Top 10 Trends for the next 10 years for Internet marketing to help you see what's really coming. Enjoy.
1. Pay Per Call Rings In: Any salesperson worth his or her salt knows that a call is worth many times more than a click. Having 1-to-1 contact with a prospect live on the phone is so much more likely to result in a sale. Some say the likelihood is ten-fold. So it's no wonder this nascent industry has many people watching closely. There will be issues with "fake" phone calls that will be reminiscent of click fraud problems today. But look for the pay-per-call industry to catch on fire within the next 1 1/2 years, despite these concerns. I am devoting an entire issue of Web Digest For Marketers to the subject of Pay Per Call later this year.
2. Feed Marketing Flourishes: You've got RSS (Real Simple Syndication). You've got Podcasting (where you can download and time-shift audio content to your iPod or MP3 player). Now you've even got Video Podcasting where you can download MP4 videos into Sony's PlayStation Portable unit for viewing when you're mobile. As the use of RSS grows quickly, and more consumers buy iPods or MP3 players, these formats will grow in usage. And where there are ears and especially eyeballs, marketers are never too far behind. The podcasts may employ the sponsorship model, or subscription (further off), or simply be done for the coolness factor, customer retention, or PR pop that you'll get if you do it early enough. RSS ad units will settle into some format that offers a decent ROI for the advertiser. There are already coupons being fed via RSS. Expect to see more point-to-point syndication feed models as we move forward in time.
3. Email Marketing Will Survive: Spam issues will recede dramatically, because they have to. Too much is at stake. We may resort to the payment of email postage for guaranteed delivery, or maybe not. But the email platform is now like a fax machine. While there are fancier applications, email is easy, cheap, effective and everywhere.
4. Agent, Personal Agent: Watch for the growth of agent software to help you sift through the morass of online information. There's too much relevant stuff for mere humans to sift through now. Agent software learns your habits by following your moves online and on your computer as well as by asking about your preferences. Some early forms of this exist now, but it will become much more sophisticated. Your agent will bring you both B2B and B2C offerings, whether the latest on-target ad deal or the best tennis racket at the best price.
5. Reverb Marketing, In Stereo: eMarketer points out that many Internet users already use multiple forms of media at once. Even as I write this I'm listening to CNBC in the background. Smart marketers will synchronize their messaging so the end user hears and sees complementary messages at or near the same time. This will be the new definition of what media planners call Road Blocking. Since the end user's attention is split between different media, it will be essential that messages reinforce each other. HINT: Visual gags on TV spots or simply showing the 800 number on screen won't be as effective, because a significant segment of people won't be watching the screen. Even today we're starting to use TV like radio.
6. Blogs Go Multimedia: Blogs are obviously here to stay. Some of the cutting-edge blogs are starting to offer content in audio and even in video. This will not only affect journalism, but it will impact the retail business as well. Imagine a personality-driven QVC blog on your computer screen.
7. TVIP Adds Interactivity: Microsoft and others are currently exploring TV over Internet protocol. But don't expect TV on the Net to look and act like the TV you see on your television screen. After all, we already have television, so who needs the redundancy? TVIP will take a different twist. While Madison Avenue types will say, "At last, we can now feed TV commercials over the Net!", consumers will not want to see those ads on their computer screens. They already TIVO over on them on their TV screens, right? TVIP will be much more interactive. In addition to an 800 number, with TVIP you'll be able to click and buy right then and there. One form might be a video catalog wherein you click on the product or infomercial of interest. To really make this happen, compression schemes will need to get better in order to prevent buffering at the consumer end.
8. Commercial Content, On Demand: Messages from marketers need to be so appealing that the audience actually requests the message. This evolutionary process is already underway as push marketing is giving way to pull marketing. The costs of paper, postage, TV and print production are getting too expensive and are not performing as well as they used to. Commercial content that the end user wants isn't far-fetched. Look at Lucky magazine or niche catalogs such as Outdoor Adventure Sports. B2B marketers have been using high-value ads for years. The advertisers in Web Digest For Marketers generate sales leads by offering high-value PDF downloads on subjects of particular interest to the target audience they're trying to reach. The how-to workshops at Home Depot are a prime example on the B2C side. It doesn't take a seer to see that the days of "hot air advertising" are so over.
9. Publishing Faces Tectonic Shifts: Research is already showing that many people in their 20s are not picking up the newspaper habit the way their parents did. Add to this demographic shift the cost of newsprint, postage (for magazines) and handling, and it's likely to cause tectonic shifts in the publishing industry. Many people already read newspapers and magazines online. My bet is that special issues will appear in print, and that many publishers will ultimately have to figure out how to make a go of it with free content online (i.e., advertiser-supported), perhaps by asking their readers for demographic information that enables the publisher to sell targeted advertisements at a premium, as you'll frequently find with trade publications. At the same time, in select industries people will pay for online subscriptions that deliver real value. This is already apparent (the Wall Street Journal has 700,000 paid subscribers), but it's not for every content provider out there. For a look at the next level, check out www.cnbcdowjones.com, where you can get just the editorial clips of CNBC, sans commercials, for $99(US) a year. You get 250 plays per month. I subscribe, and find it to be a great time saver.
10. Direct Marketers Will Take Over the Internet: Oops, this has already happened, but not the way I predicted 10 years ago. There are two types of direct marketers on the Net. Those who started out as online marketers have come across the language and practices of DM without realizing it. They talk of response rates by way of clickthroughs, cost per lead, cost per sale, and so on. This group would do well to study the DM masters who have written extensively on the subject over the past 80 years. Then there are the traditional direct marketers, some of whom get it, and some of whom are still riveted on the shriveling response rates of print mailings and catalogs and on ever-increasing postage costs. The irony here is that traditional direct marketing folks are the ones who understand human nature best. Because of their extensive experience, they can smell what will work and what won't. It's baked into their genes now. This group would do well to look at the Net as the incredible opportunity it is, rather than focusing on what was. What was is not coming back. The good news for traditional DM'ers is that the Internet has not repealed the laws of human nature. So while the tools of DM are changing, the underlying principles that have driven DM since the time of Ben Franklin are still exactly the same.
11. Internet-Free Zones Become the Hot New Trend: The Internet will become as ubiquitous as cell phones are today. Some enterprising travel package company will then begin offering Internet-free zones -- no cell phones, no Internet, no fax machines, and you won't have to climb the Himalayas to escape the media onslaught. This won't be an option for many people. It seems already that people desperately need to stay connected to others, lest they connect with themselves.
Larry Chase's Web Digest for Marketers (WDFM) is a free weekly email newsletter featuring mercifully short reviews and links on marketing-oriented websites.
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