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It recently dawned on me that I seem to be waking each morning either petrified or inspired about the digital marketing industry.

I voiced this thought at a recent meet up of digital marketers and it seemed to resonate with other people too.

Every day there seems to be a new demon to contend with, Google changes its mind again, the EU tries to flex its muscles or the whole economy lurches further into crisis.

But alongside the fear, the changes and developments create new and exciting opportunities, so I’d like to share three ‘scary’ and three ‘enthusing’ things that have recently played their role in my Halloween nights.

Horror stories

Google’s move to SSL 

Google’s decision to stop passing the search term for signed in users means that marketers will no longer be able to see the keywords that bring visitors and buyers to their site.

Not only is this a big blow to measurability at a time when techniques are getting more sophisticated but the inconsistent treatment of PPC over SEO seems like a very worrying sign indeed.

EU Cookie Directive 

An ill thought out intervention that pulls the whole industry backwards and fails to address the real privacy issues at hand.

Behavioural marketing, one of the key growth areas in this industry and this country, will be particularly affected. Why on earth are we (the EU members) trying to put in place laws that make us less competitive on the global scale?

It seems crazy that at a time of austerity and weak growth, decisions are made to make our lives harder in an industry that is one of only a few that are showing real signs of progress. 

The speed people progress in this industry 

It isn’t uncommon for someone to become head of search or PPC with just a few years’ experience. Although this fast progression can encourage talent into the industry there is the argument that this is a sign that there is a lack of quality and depth of available resources.

Digital businesses need to invest more in setting up their own intern and graduate programs and work with local universities to bring the brightest talent into this industry to ensure there isn’t a skills shortage further up the career path.

Things that wake me up full of enthusiasm:


This one is close to my heart; Attribution has been around for at least six years but 2011 seems like the year when it’s really taken hold.

Marketers are increasingly analysing the paths to conversion and giving credit to the channels that contribute along the path and not just to the last interaction. This comes from both an increase in knowledge and advances in the technologies that can facilitate it.

It will become increasingly important and challenging as the distinction between online and offline channels is blurred.

New marketing channels 

There are new marketing channels being launched all the time with lots of opportunities opening up for marketers. In particular, remarketing has re-invigorated online display advertising and increases CTR and conversion rates significantly.

Multichannel marketing is now really starting to take off and how advertisers measure, analyse and optimise presents a world of opportunity. The companies that succeed in doing this will be the most successful.

Joined-up channels 

Online and offline channels are increasingly being viewed as one in both sales and marketing. Offline advertising consistently invites customers to buy online by using their website or Facebook page as the call to action, and many offer a collect in-store service that means customers convert offline.

Of course, there are challenges in exactly how you join them together, and all businesses are different, but it is exciting to see some companies begin to do this and improve their marketing based on these new insights. 

So at this bone chilling time of year what are the horror stories keeping you awake at night, or the things that are waking you up so enthused that you can’t wait to get going?

Seth Richardson

Published 31 October, 2011 by Seth Richardson

Seth Richardson is CEO at DC Storm and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can also follow him on Twitter.

3 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

Kai Kurihara

Kai Kurihara, Online Marketing Manager - Assurance at NCC Group PLCSmall Business

My Digital Marketing Nightmare is that some organisations are still believing that Digital Marketing can be done for free, fast and most importantly without objectives and strategy.

We are not in 1990 any more.

the above makes people who are duly qualified not progress, due to the lack of understanding of some directors.

Digital Marketing is not a trend. It is a discipline. Get on with with it.

almost 5 years ago

Richard Turrell

Richard Turrell, Group Digital Marketing Manager at The FiveTen Group

My Digital Marketing nightmare is the overreliance of low reputation services such as URL shortening tools.

Ignoring the prestige names such as bit.ly, imagine if a number of the smaller URL shortening services were acquired by a single company and all redirects sent to a single website.

Very theoretical I know but it really could turn into a nightmare and is very much possible.

almost 5 years ago



Our nightmare would be to investment large amounts of money and see little or no progress.. or seeing our website going backwards!! I think that can be the same for anyone though on the whole!

What is important for us is that we are up to speed with what is going on around us and what our competitors are up to at all times.

almost 5 years ago


Sarah Alder

My nightmare is a bit like Kai's. Clients who don't want to plan or scope ("inflated consultancy costs" "just talking about things, not doing anything") and then are disappointed when delivery is delayed and results are poor. My inspiration is the students I work with on digital marketing courses, who have such enthusiasm and such a "can do" attitude that I know the industry will go from strength to strength.

almost 5 years ago


Peter Johnston

This is an exciting time. We are finally banishing the nasty "find what people are doing and interrupt them to tell them to buy your product" mentality which underpinned marketing.

Now we need to realise that prospecting is something which marketing and sales should be doing together and the current methods are doing neither of us any good.

In a connected world, the nasty vendor focused methods are dying. Good riddance.

almost 5 years ago

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