January 4, 2007
In our final contribution for our pre-holiday rewind of 2006 and fast forward to 2007, One Degree’s creator Ken Schafer shares his thoughts on the year past, and the year to come..
1. Rewind — What trends in Internet marketing surprised you in 2006? The incredibly rapid growth of video really caught me off guard. I’ve always been a believer in Internet Video but never saw the tipping point that was YouTube coming.
2. Rewind — Did you add any new tools to your online marketing toolkit in 2006? Not really. I’d say that I moved from thinking of “Social Media” as an interesting concept to being core part of the online marketing toolkit, but I’m not sure I’ve done that much to really integrate it into the work I’m doing. The closest I’ve come is the Tucows Squishies on Flickr that I wrote about earlier and the Tucows Blog but I’m not sure I can claim those to be truly social.
3. Fast Forward — What do you see as the biggest trends in Internet Marketing in 2007? At this point I’d say that Email, Paid Search, Organic Search, and Display Advertising are “Traditional Internet Marketing”, while Blogs, Feeds, and Video are the trends to leverage — if you’re not getting serious about these in 2007 you’re missing the boat. Trendsetters wanting to get ahead of the the curve or with early adopters as their target markets will be exploring Social Media and Branded Entertainment in 2007.
4. Fast Forward — At the end of 2007, what do you expect we’ll be looking back at as overhyped? My guess is that most marketers can safely ignore mobile marketing, virtual worlds, and any location-aware marketing for another year without any career damage at all.
5. Fast Forward — Any SPECIFIC predictions for 2007? Buy-outs, bubbles bursting, records broken, reputations toppled, break-out companies? I think we’ll see a new type of agency establish itself this year — “Branded Entertainment Agencies”. More companies are understanding that entertaining advertising can be more powerful than advertising around what entertains. Traditionally we’ve left it to the marketers to sponsor (through ad dollars) the entertainment “producers” create. Virals, video, flash-apps, innovative micro-sites — all of these require a level of story-telling and creativity that goes beyond what we expect of typical ad agencies. Some smart agencies will realize that self-identifying as “a leading branded interactive entertainment agency” will get them the mindshare and differentiation they crave.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 4, 2007.
January 30, 2006
I truly believe this — every business must have a blog. Well, to be honest, every business should need a blog — I’m just not sure when we’ll go from “should” to “must”, so get one now and avoid disappointment.
Way back in 1995 I would tell anyone who’d listen that they had to have a website because eventually everyone would use the web to determine what companies they were going to deal with. As hard as it may be to believe, this was a radical idea at the time and many scoffed. Few would scoff now — can you imagine doing business with any company that had no Internet presence? The next frontier isn’t the dissemination of information via corporate websites — that’s now table stakes. Increasingly businesses will need to convey authority and enter into conversations with their “fan club” (in the Seth Godin sense of the term).
That’s what blogs do. Mark my words — by 2010 you will not trust any company, politician, pundit, author, or anyone else looking to promote an idea or service if they don’t have a blog. By default, people will assume you have a blog and if you don’t they will say “they must have something to hide”. Agree? Disagree? Are there some companies that will never need a blog?
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 30, 2006.
January 12, 2006
I have been invited to speak to the Council of Communications Directors for the ministries of the Ontario Government tomorrow morning. The topic is “The Big Six For ’06 — The Six Big Internet Trends In 2006″.
Here’s the list I’m working from:
- Search Marketing
- Moving Beyond Text
I’ve only got one hour to cover all this which means it will be a whirlwind tour of these key themes impacting all businesses using the Net today. My goal is really to snap their heads back and make them focus on how the Net — and our ideas about what is important online — are changing. Feedback on the list and how it impacts government would be appreciated.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 12, 2006.
August 22, 2005
I certainly hope so. Otherwise “this Globe & Mail article” (paid access only now) will make Chris Pirillo and me look a bit silly.
(Interestingly enough, two years later, Tessa Wegert who interviewed us for the Globe article is writing for One Degree.)
Here’s a snippet:
What does RSS mean to the content-rich e-newsletter industry?
About three months ago, Ken Schafer, president of the Toronto-based Internet consultancy Schafer Group and a founder of The Association for Internet Marketing and Sales (AIMS), simultaneously launched an e-newsletter and added an RSS feed to his company’s blog. Though it’s difficult to determine exactly how many RSS users subscribe to a feed — marketers cite this as one of the few limitations of the system — he estimates that there are about 10 times as many people viewing his feed as the e-newsletter.
Mr. Schafer credits the concept behind RSS with the popularity of the program among his subscribers. ‘[RSS] feeds give the control back to the reader.’ As Internet content publishers, both Mr. Pirillo and Mr. Schafer believe that RSS could replace the need for e-newsletters. ‘It gives us everything we wanted from e-mail newsletters, and everything spam has taken away,’ Mr. Schafer says. ‘I would be surprised if in three years there are any e-newsletters left.’
Well Chris (and the rest of you), do you think we’ll see the demise of e-mail newsletters (not all e-mail) in the near future?
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on August 22, 2005.
January 3, 2005
Happy New Year!
Here are a few of the top trends I’ll be watching closely in 2005:
1. “Web First” Marketing Strategies — Forget integrating online into the marketing mix, I’m seeing more smart companies starting with the web and working out from there. For some of my clients this will be the first year where they have moved almost all their efforts (and dollars) to the web. Look for offline media to play a supporting role for many more savvy marketers in 2005. And look for web AORs to take the lead as other agencies fall in line with the online strategies set by the web shop.
2. Rich Internet Applications — With Gmail, Flickr, Basecamp, Bloglines, and the brand new 43 Things I think we are really seeing the dawning of a whole new class of online experience. By bringing far greater functionality to their sites, these services are showing that online applications can rival desktop apps. I think 2005 will see a blurring and stretching of our concept of what the terms site and software mean. Look for ways to turn content sites into tools that users can use instead of read.
3. Desktop Apps — The flip-side of the web-based applications trend is the rise of net-centric desktop apps. Think of iTunes and RealRhapsody, FeedDemon, or Google’s Desktop Search. 2005 will also see more sites creating custom Firefox extensions and IE toolbars to keep top-of-mind with consumers. Don’t expect all your marketing to happen in a browser or e-mail client anymore.
4. Firefox — With over 15 million downloads since November 9th, the best web browser on the planet will stir things up as it rapidly gains marketshare on the old, buggy, unsecure Internet Explorer. One of my clients (with a non-tech audience) had over 8% of December traffic arriving via this open source app. This makes the move to standards-compliant sites even more essential as “IE Only” sites will alienate too many visitors to be worth the risk. As a side-note, let’s see if heads roll over the dreadful non-standards redesign of Indigo’s site.
5. RSS Hits Mainstream — Feeds were the hot tech topic in 2004 and 2005 will find this incredibly powerful tool gaining broader awareness. If you’re not using a feed reader to stay on top of the industry already, you are definitely missing the boat, and if you are not thinking about a corporate strategy to benefit from feeds in 2005, then shame on you.
Of course search will be the online marketing success story for 2005 as it was for 2004, and blogs will continue to grow in importance.
What do you see for 2005?
December 17, 2004
Here’s a summary:
1. SEM rises to dominate online marketing.
2. Blogs become the best way to find out about most stuff.
3. Increased focus on meeting user needs instead of corporate goals.
4. A more pragmatic approach to e-mail.
5. RSS prepares to take centre stage in 2005.
6. Social Networks will have a make or break year in 2004.
I’m feeling pretty good about these predictions a year later. Most of this rings true to me, but I was assuming a “make” year for social networks when in hindsight I think it was more of a “break”.
What do you think the trends of 2005 will be? More of the same, or are we ready for some breakthroughs?
(I think the big trend I missed was that business was going to boom! At the end of 2003 things still seemed kind of gloomy, but 2004 turned out to be a stellar year for my business and hopefully for yours.)
In a few days I’ll provide my predictions for trends in 2005.
July 24, 2004
(I originally wrote a brief post to the AIMS discussion list on this topic and was then asked by Direct Marketing News to write an extended commentary based on that post. Here is my original draft of the column which inexplicably differs significantly from the in print (but not online) version. Consider this the true version please.)
The Death of Offline Advertising — And The Birth of “New Marketing”
At the end of March, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sang a sweet song to online marketers looking to forget the dark years that followed the heady days of the Internet ad boom.
During the company’s MSN Strategic Account Summit, Ballmer told the 500 or so US ad executives in the audience that 100% of ad dollars will be spent online by 2010. That’s no typo. He said all marketing will be online in six years.
Given that major consumer packaged goods advertisers are generally spending less than 1% of their budgets online and that many advertisers are still unsure of how to market online, why would Ballmer make such a bold prediction?
Certainly it is in Microsoft’s best interest to tell advertisers to up their online ad budgets to 8–13% now in preparation for the day when all their budgets are online. MSN counts on online ad revenue, so it seems natural they’d want ads online instead of in channels Microsoft does not (yet) own. And more online activity means more devices, and that means more software, and that means more money for Microsoft.
But — looking beyond self-interest — might there really be a basis for Ballmer’s assertion? There may be more evidence that Ballmer is on to something than you would think.
First, if you haven’t been paying attention to online ads lately, you may be surprised that, in the US, the first quarter of 2004 was the biggest quarter ever for online ads, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. And that’s hot on the heels of the last record breaking quarter, the 2003 holiday season. With the online ad industry now bigger than it was at the peak of the boom, “Bomb-times” seem to be behind us.
And while some sectors are lagging behind in online ad spending, others have figured out that online ads can be more efficient than other channels. In the US, the travel and financial sectors are leading the way with 15 and 17% of budgets online respectively.
So online ads are commanding a greater share of the ad budget. Is it possible they will command it all?
One IP To Rule Them All
Let’s deconstruct Ballmer’s exact words to get a better understanding of his vision.
Ballmer is quoted as saying “All marketing will have the characteristics of online marketing”.
I would argue that the “characteristics of online marketing” that make it compelling are that it is targetable, actionable, and trackable — all in real-time. These four characteristics give online a unique advantage that marketers are just now beginning to comprehend.
Ballmer is also quoted as saying that “everything will go over intelligent IP [Internet Protocol]”.
This echoes Chairman Bill Gates’ vision of a “seamless computing” future where all devices are Internet enabled and can easily speak to each other and to the Net. This intelligent network will use the same underpinnings as our present-day Internet but it will be so embedded in all our devices and business practices that it will disappear from consciousness; like electricity.
So while many have dismissed Ballmer’s comments as more Microsoft FUD, I don’t believe that Ballmer meant that someday we’d all be shilling banner ads for a living. Rather, I think that he is wisely noting that the ubiquity of Internet access in all locations and through all devices will allow most media to become targetable, actionable, and trackable. And if a particular media cannot evolve to share these characteristics with online marketing, it will be relegated to a minor supporting role in larger, IP-based marketing campaigns.
For lack of a better term, let’s call it “new marketing” and define it as “marketing through channels that allow companies to target specific consumers based on context, behaviour, location and other factors in order to create measurable responses that can be tracked in near real-time”.
If we look carefully we see the seeds of “new marketing” blooming all around us, just as “new media” once did.
Here are a few early sightings:
1. ROI Marketing Hits The Tipping Point
There is a strong move towards accountability for all major business expenses. Marketing won’t be spared from the drive to measurability and accountability. CxO’s are asking tough questions like “What do I get for my ad dollar?” and “Did this campaign make or cost us money?” These are questions that traditional “awareness” marketing can’t answer except anecdotally. Marketers will be forced to adopt direct response models in order to justify their budgets and their jobs. Once enough people move this way, everyone will suddenly make the switch because their careers will be on the line if they don’t learn to go with the ROI flow. Any marketing vehicle that can’t help marketers justify their spend will be hard pressed to keep up with New Marketing opportunities that do.
2. The Perfect Response Tool
As companies look for ways to measure marketing ROI, more and more cross channel marketing will be directed towards the Net. Search Engine Marketing is catching fire because marketers who “get direct” see that they can now build testable, trackable campaigns online and that means budgets will be diverted from less measurable channels. And as we get smarter about what works and what online marketing is worth, watch for other DM channels to have to fight for attention and ad dollars. Response marketers look for the most cost effective channel, and if it’s the Net, say goodbye outbound telemarketing and direct mail.
3. The Net Generation
We’ve already seen reports that young males are “missing” from TV audience figures. Look for today’s young adults — raised in a web-based, multi-tasking world to become the core consumers of the next decade, meaning that the Net will be a natural place to find consumers in their peak buying years. And these kids expect everything to be online, instantaneous and under their control. Will they accept “ol’ skool” media for much longer (if they ever did)?
4. All Bits Move To The Net
Over time, anything that can move over the Net, will move over the Net. When was the last time you received a fax that wasn’t junk or wasn’t sent because to provide a signature? The last time your wrote a letter?
In the mid-90’s I witnessed Nicholas “Being Digital” Negroponte tell a ballroom full of music industry executives that they were in the “bit radiation” business and that as soon as someone figured out how to make it more efficient to radiate bits over wires rather than stamping them on shiny discs they’d all be out of jobs. Those execs laughed at the time, but they are now scrambling to cut deals with Puretracks and Napster to try and correct the damage done by free download sites.
In six to ten years I’m sure that the majority of voice, TV, radio, music, and movies will be entering our homes over a Net connection. And many non-measurable, non-targetable media will soon be replaced by new and improved online versions. Is it hard to imagine radio stations moving online and targeting ads based on past behaviour and the listener’s physical location? What will happen to radio when ads are addressable, measurable, and immediately actionable online?
Will the “marketing bits” you radiate be the only ones to avoid this inevitable move to the Net? Are you sure?
5. Media On Demand
Consumers are just now beginning to see the joys of an “on demand” approach to information and entertainment. WiFi is making the Broadband home a reality, iPods are allowing us to put a lifetime of music in our pockets, and PVRs are taking time-shifting to a completely new level.
Once the user is in control of the when and where of media consumption, the impact on advertising will be considerable. If there is no primetime, only “my time”, won’t ads need to provide the same responsiveness to a consumer’s desires?
6. Online, All The Time
Increasingly we live in a world of three screens — a TV for communal viewing, a computer screen for individual work, and a “Third Screen” for accessing information while on the move. As “unwired” PDAs are replaced by phones and hybrid products that allow for voice, e-mail, SMS, IM, web access, and digital photography all from one device, ads that are aware of their location in the world will increase. Adding toll-free order numbers, e-mail and web addresses, or text numbers to outdoor and transit ads is a logical first step towards our devices actually interacting with the ads.
How would your marketing change if transit ads were part of the Net? If Google on a cell phone was everyone’s default yellow pages?
7. GPS Pop Cans
Coke’s “Unexpected Summer” promotion is taking “New Marketing” to a new level. Coke has randomly placed 120 GPS-enable cell phone “cans” in pop cases across the US. If you find a can you can use it to phone in and have your location tracked so that your grand prize can be airlifted to you wherever you are in America.
If products are already being hooked to the Net and electronically enhanced, what will happen when RFID tags allow retailers and manufacturers to track each unit individually?
As much as I’d like Steve Ballmer’s world of targetable, actionable, trackable, real-time advertising, my guess is that we’ll never quite arrive at this marketing nirvana. There will always be those that espouse brand at any cost, those that believe they have too little time and too little money to “bother” with tracking their marketing. But that’s not you.
How do we get to this “new marketing”? I concur with Steve Ballmer and recommend that we get busy now. It’s time that marketers learn to allocate budgets differently and drive all ads to a measurable channel. And then we need to begin driving all measurement to standards-based net apps so results can be analyzed and adjusted in real-time.
The challenge for ad suppliers is to figure out how they can create New Marketing channels that, like online ads, are targetable, actionable, and trackable. If you sell ads for a living, what will you do to prepare for the New Marketing? Measurable billboards? Commerce-enabled transit signs? POP that changes based on the weather?
What will your ads do tomorrow that the Net can do today?
May 5, 2004
While speaking to clients over the last few months it seems the following five things are on lots of To Do lists:
1. Site Re-design — I can’t believe how many people are working on making their sites more useful. People seem to be waking up after a few years of sleeping through no budgets and no appetite for new projects and realizing that sites they built in 1999 just doesn’t cut it any more. This is good for me because that’s what I help them with! Are you or your clients working on site upgrades? If so, why?
2. Search Engine Visibility — “Getting Found” online is probably the next thing I find people talking about. Most companies seem to be pretty reluctant to hire SEO firms fearing that the hired gun will do something unsavoury and muck up their results. That’s one reason why I talk about Search Visibility instead of “optimization”, “placement” or “ranking” which seem to imply deception. Do you agree that Search Visibility is to Search Engines as PR is to Media?
3. Search Engine Marketing Tests — Paid search ads are of course the big news in online advertising. Lots of companies seem to be experimenting with this right now. I’m concerned though that the experiments aren’t being thought through well enough and some companies will determine that SEM isn’t right for them because of poor execution and poor understanding of the goals of these tests. How should people get their feet wet with SEM?
4. Saving E-mail Programs — I still love e-mail marketing but it seems that many companies are questioning their strategies. Between delivery problems diverting up to 20% of messages, list attrition, and slow list growth, only those with a solid handle on WHY they are sending messages seem to be happy. Is your e-mail marketing strategy in danger or are you looking to do more by e-mail this year?
5. Understanding The Role of Conversation — More companies seem to be interested in blogs and feeds as business tools as they see the need to talk to their customers like humans. I’m finding the Internet is becoming increasingly conversational and that companies that are not communicating well online are really ticking me off. Are you thinking about using blogs and feeds for your business? What goals will they support? If not, why not?
Finally, if these aren’t the things on YOUR list, what are you working on?
March 30, 2004
While Ballmer’s projections might be hyperbole, I think that they may wake up a few offline marketers who are falsely comfortable in the knowledge that the Net has yet to topple them despite dire warnings in the past. I don’t agree with Ballmer that ALL ads will have an online component, but I would say that MOST will.
1. ROI Marketing is about to hit a tipping point: There is a strong move towards accountability of all major business expenses. Marketing won’t be spared from the drive to measurability and accountability. CxO’s are asking tough questions like “What do I get for my ad dollar?” and “Did this campaign make or cost us money?” These are questions that traditional “awareness” marketing can’t answer except anecdotally. Marketers will be forced to adopt direct response models in order to justify their budgets and their jobs. Once enough people move this way, everyone will suddenly make the switch because their careers will be on the line if they don’t learn to go with the ROI flow.
2. The Net is a perfect response tool: As companies look for ways to measure marketing ROI, more and more cross channel marketing will be directed towards the Net (and inbound call centers which I also expect to do well). Search Engine Marketing is catching fire because marketers who “get direct” see that they can now build testable, trackable campaigns online and that means budgets will be diverted from less measurable channels. And as we get smarter about what works and what online marketing is worth, watch for other DM channels to have to fight for attention and ad dollars. Response marketers look for the most cost effective channel, and if it’s the Net, say goodbye outbound telemarketing and direct mail.
3. The Next Generation is a Net Generation: We’ve already seen reports that young males are “missing” from the TV audience figures. Look for today’s young adults — raised in a web-based, multi-tasking world to become the core consumers of the next decade, meaning that the Net will be a natural place to find consumers in their peak buying years.
4. All bits move to the Net: In six to ten years I’m sure that the majority of voice, TV, radio, music, and movies will be entering our homes over a Net connection. So for example, while we may not think of telemarketing as Net Marketing, the calls will undoubtedly be Voice Over IP by then.
December 17, 2003
Here, in no particular order are some of the things I expect to see in the coming year:
1. SEM rises to dominate online marketing: Any marketer looking to sell anything online should be starting (and in many cases ending) their online ad spend with search engine marketing.
2. Blogs become the best way to find out about most stuff: I regularly read over 100 blogs that provide me with greater depth, better commentary, and faster breaking news than anything other news source. Look for more and more of us to depend on blogs for our industry insights. Smart marketers will incorporate blogging into their overall corporate communications strategy.
3. Increased focus on meeting user needs instead of corporate goals: I hope for this one every year but I’m now seeing signs that companies are starting to take user experience and user benefit seriously. Let’s hope all sites work on meeting our needs instead of theirs.
4. A more pragmatic approach to e-mail: In 2004 e-mail marketers will be happy if the message even gets there. Watch for spam filters, increased privacy concerns, and inbox fatigue to reek havoc on response rates.
5. RSS prepares to take centre stage in 2005: I am a strong believer that RSS will dominate retention-based communication in the future, but I don’t think RSS will be on enough marketers’ radar to hit critical mass in 2004. Watch for leading edge companies to use 2004 to define the future of this amazing new channel.
6. Social Networks will have a make or break year in 2004: Social Networks were named THE hot technology of 2003 by Business 2.0 and I expect that 2004 will see the sites go mainstream and at the same time, work out privacy and business model issues. There will be an inevitable shake-out and many will fade away in the coming year. Watch for LinkedIn to gain momentum as the most privacy and value focussed network for professionals.