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The online ad business was worse than thought last year, and it will be worse than projected this year. Brighter days will have to wait until 2010, according to recent data updates.
The first comes from Barclays Capital, which had already checked in with bad news last December. Over the past year the investment bank has gone from predicting 16 percent online ad spend growth (October report) to a six percent rise (December) and now pegs online ad spending calls for a 2.3 percent increase over last year to $23.7 billion. This joins recent reports from Bernstein Research's prediction that global online ad spend will grow only 5.9 percent, and Veronis Suhler's call of 4.9 percent
Lot of talk this week about who owns the digital marketing customer. Brands and ad agencies claim they own the customer's data. More than a few panelists at Thursday's Digiday sessions said that if the customer is paying a network or site for interaction privileges at that moment, then that site owns the customer. To all those who say they can own the customer, here's a newsflash: no one owns the customer.
Nor does anyone rent the customer or loan a customer. Any company that thinks they can own the customer, or the customer's data, or the customer's digital experience, has a weird type of business neuroticism. That neurosis might be best cured through a little reality therapy. The reality is, customers may pay you time, attention, and revenue, but they give you no more than that. The goal of internet marketing is to create the opportunities for that attention and revenue.
Yesterday I detailed my experience of trying to use Twitter as a search engine. It wasn't a good experience.
A lot of people have been trying to define and categorize Twitter lately with minimal success. That's probably due to the fact that Twitter is being used by lots of different people for lots of different things; it's hard to fit it in a neat little box.
The world's biggest companies are failing at more than their profit performance these days. A new report from SEO measurement company Conductor finds that organic search results from the Fortune 500 would hardly rate a good MBA project. In fact, the report says "as a whole, the group is still doing a very poor job of ensuring that their ‘money’ keywords are represented in natural search." It found that only 20.82 percent of Fortune 500 keywords rank within the top 100 search results, as measured during the fourth quarter of 2008.
The lesson Fortune 500 companies are learning is that paid search buys exactly that: paid results. The Fortune 500 as a group spent approximately $51 million per day on 88,792 keywords with relatively little to show on organic results, according to the report. And many of those keywords were consolidated in a few industry verticals and in a handful of companies.
Relevance. It is the key to success for email marketing, but still it continues to be a sore spot. Two separate but synchronous email studies shed new light on relevance, and the lack of it, in email marketing. One addresses the desires of the hyperconnected 18-24 year old generation. The other recognizes said relevance problem and identifies some solutions for online retailers.
The Gen Y study comes from the Participatory Marketing Network and Pace University's Interactive and Direct Marketing Lab. It shows that the majority of Gen Y consumers welcome direct brand interactions through email, but they want more ability to control, organize and manage the interactions. Only 28 percent of those surveyed believe the email they get from companies is relevant. But they are eager to see “innovative services” that increase that relevance. Specifically, 62 percent would communicate directly with retailers about their favorite products in exchange for getting preferential pricing. 44 percent would subscribe to an email service that collected and summarized multiple offers of interest to them. And in direct opposition to the Nielsen social media report issued on Tuesday, which painted a bleak picture for advertising within social networks, 32 percent would share promotional email offers with members inside a social network.
Customer engagement has been re-introduced into the internet marketing discussion, this time via an excellent report from Forrester Research.
Exactly what "engagement" means has been a murky proposition since it was introduced into the internet marketing lexicon in 2005. But Forrester has put forth a clear and concise take on it. It says: "customer engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence that an individual has with a brand over time."
Even search engines get the blues. In a report that has not been officially released yet, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, (SEMPO), says North American search marketing spending will increase only 9 percent to $14.7 billion in 2009 from $13.5 billion a year ago. Estimates made in early 2008 projected that the industry would grow at more than twice that rate this year, from $15.7 billion in 2008 to $18.8 billion in 2009. The new SEMPO forecasts call for the industry to reach $19.8 billion in 2011, down from a previous estimate of $25.2 billion for that year.
What happened? The simple answer is the economy, which Google CEO Eric Schmidt called "pretty dire" last week. But the report raises some very important issues that cannot be explained away by a simple economic downturn. Among them:
This social networking thing is gonna be big, man. Really big. Bigger than email.
A confirmation of the absolute "big bang" expansion theory of social networks came from Nielsen Online today. Its "Global Faces and Networked Places" report shows that by the end of 2008, 66.8 percent of internet users across the globe accessed “member communities” last year, compared to 65.1 percent for email.
Digital marketing will get a few disruptions in the near future, according to this version of Razorfish's Digital Outlook Report.
While most of the press attention has gone to the agency's bullish outlook on social media (surprise, surprise), the warm fuzzies stopped there. Consider the following predictions from Razorfish analysts and executives:
A study into the returns processes of 100 online retailers in the UK has found that returning goods bought online is becoming more difficult for customers.
When it comes to allowing customers to return goods without hassle, some retailers have a lot to learn, with five making it virtually impossible for shoppers to return goods.
Having looked at the use of Twitter by charities in the UK, and being impressed by number of organisations that have used it to promote their causes, I've decided to take a look at how many retailers are using the service.
There are some great examples of companies using Twitter in the US; Zappos has used it to communicate with customers and for marketing purposes, while Dell says it has made $1m in sales from using Twitter.
So how many UK retailers have signed up for a Twitter account?
Apple's iPhone is responsible for the vast majority of mobile internet browsing, but Google's Android, and Blackberry are beginning to pick up their share of the market.
Mobile web browsing as a percentage of total web browsing is also growing, and currently stands at 0.72%. Sales of smartphones accounted for a quarter of US mobile sales in Q4, while O2 recently announced that it had sold 1m iPhones in the UK, so this trend looks set to continue.