Looking back on 2009, it seems there has never been a year full of more change, excitement, and shocking news – and if there has, I wasn’t alive to witness it. We saw the death of Michael Jackson, arguably the biggest pop star in the world, fall of the US economic system, inauguration of the first African-American President and fall from grace of a hero, Tiger Woods.
We looked on as North Korea detained journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the swine flu epidemic sent an already anxious nation into further panic, and health care reform drew sharp lines in the sand between haves and have-nots – and we’re barely scratching the surface.
In spite of all this, life goes on, and so does business. In the online sector, we saw just as many developments, and at times it became difficult to keep up. Things on the web change at such a rapid pace it can be tough to nail down what matters now and what will tomorrow, but that is part of the fun. Working in this business you have to keep up with trends, and after a year as action-packed as 2009, with the Yahoo/Bing merger, Google’s constantly shifting ranking algorithm, and the double-sided impact of SEO on relevancy in search, cherry-picking the most ‘influential’ developments seems silly – there truly were too many to count!
Instead, let’s kick-off 2010 with a recap of three related industry trends that picked up speed in 2009 and show little signs of slowing down.
1 – Real Time Search
When someone says ‘real-time,’ the first thing that comes to mind may be status updates on Twitter, GPS-capability on your mobile device, or the ability to perform an Internet search and get the information you need immediately – but we’ll be addressing the social networking craze and massive growth in the mobile sector later; when we say real-time, we’re talking about a sensibility.
The advent of the Internet, PDA’s, and Social Networks has revolutionized our lives. No longer are we content to visit the library when we have a question – we consult Google. Just left the theater and loved the movie? Update your Facebook status. Witnessing a riot and want to alert the world? Tweet it.
Amidst all of this real-time sharing, the Big 3 are scrambling to keep up. While real-time search has been integrated by Google and Yahoo/Bing, it’s hard to say what this will look like in a year from now, and if search engines can’t prioritize real-time data without damaging user experience, people will migrate elsewhere in their search for information.
What does this mean for advertisers? Pay attention. People are the new media, and they are sharing information via various online outlets. Throwing up a PPC campaign the way one used to may no longer be enough; advertisers may be forced to capitalize on real-time communication by integrating mobile and social ads into their marketing mix while adjusting the way they approach regular search.
2 – Mobile Web and Advertising
If you haven’t caught on by now, mobile is big. All that sharing of and searching for real-time data discussed above? A lot of that happens via mobile phones. Likewise, with the mobile advertising market expected to grow to 3.3 billion by the year 2013 it’s time to start thinking about your mobile presence.
We touched on the need to integrate mobile search into your marketing mix above, but there is more to mobile than capitalizing on search. Advertisers must consider whether or not their website works on a mobile device, but only after considering whether it matters.
At first glance it may seem some advertisers may not have to worry; if you are a business-to-business service provider, you don’t expect your clients to find you on their mobile phone, but rather, at work – but all of this is changing.
We already have the ability to access office documents on PDA’s, and mobile devices outnumber computers worldwide. In fact, it is predicted mobile devices will outnumber computers by 3:1 in 2012 and some say we’ve already reached that point. Regardless of who has more accurate statistics, developing your website with a mobile mindset is a must. Allot resources in your budget for a mobile version of your site and start tracking activity on it just as you would your regular site. There may soon come a time where business is being done primarily on mobile devices. Start now.
3 – Social Media Explosion
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably realize social media is no longer a trend, but a tactic. What seemed like a novelty at first has now become one of the most effective yet most challenging ways to market and brand your business online.
What makes social media so powerful? Word-of-mouth. It’s more reliable than an advertisement, friendlier than a pitch, and has the ability to spread like wildfire with little to no effort once the initial seed is planted.
What does this mean for advertisers? If you don’t have a social media presence, and your competitors do, now is the time to create one. Not only are more people relying on social networks and peer recommendations to make decisions about what they purchase and how they spend time, search engines are starting to integrate social data into their results (see #1 above), and if you aren’t controlling the conversation about your brand, you are opening yourself up to potential disaster.
Take the time to figure out how social media fits into your marketing mix, and realize that with social and real-time data being integrated into regular search results, negative word-of-mouth can spread faster than you ever imagined. Be proactive about starting conversations with consumers and listening to what they have to say, or you will leave the fate of your brand in the hands of fate – never a good strategy.
We hope this trend recap helps put your 2010 marketing plans into perspective! If you would like more information on search or social media marketing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Last but not least, have an amazing year!