Contrarian, dangerous and potentially humiliating predictions
by Kent Lewis
With 10 years of Internet marketing experience, you’d think I would have the knowledge and expertise to make nearly bulletproof predictions. The last time I was quoted in the media making a prediction for the future of search engine marketing, it was,”GoTo (now Yahoo! Marketing Services) will never work as a business model.”
Fortunately for me, industry pundits much smarter than I, completely agreed when the ad-based business model first debuted. The sting from being proven wrong was enough to keep me from opening my mouth again, until now. With increasing buzz and hype, I feel obligated to voice my opinion on which technologies are fads and which are fact.
Search Engine Optimization
2006 is going to be THE year for search engine optimization (SEO). Over the past few years, search engine marketing (SEM) has increased in profile with marketers due to its undeniable return on investment (ROI). The major shift this coming year will be that SEO will become a key factor in the design of Web sites. Even though it comprises 11% of overall SEM spending, the percentage of new and redesigned Web sites that incorporate SEO best practices will increase significantly.
If you don’t already have Yahoo! or Google stock, you may want to give your broker a call. Paid placement has demonstrated effectiveness as a branding, lead generation and sales vehicle, and as such is expected to be a $4.7 billion industry this year. Online advertising budgets will increase significantly this year, breaking the 5% mark of total advertising spending.
The MSN Land Grab
Yahoo! and Google have largely held their market share over the past year or two, but I believe that will change in 2006. Rather than the second tier players making an impact, look for MSN to aggressively build and buy market share using time-worn tactics that were so effective in making Windows, Word and Explorer household names.
Unlocking Key Metrics
While the promise of bigger and better metrics have been promised for years (engagement, brand awareness, etc.) 2006 will be the year for offline conversion tracking. Evolution of metrics will be driven by marketers looking to justify increasing investments in SEM, and publishers looking to capture market share.
Broadband is continuing to gain momentum, which is fueling rapid adoption of video-based content, including video search and video podcasting (vodcasting). The growing acceptance of video and vodcasting will supplant the current media darling, podcasting, which was named word of the year in 2005.
Sizzle or Fizzle
Those that read and love eMarketer and ClickZ may take issue with my predictions for technologies and trends that will fizzle in 2006. Rather than rely on research, statistics or the experts, I’m relying on my gut when it comes to laying it on the line. First and foremost, video services on cell phones will go the way of WebTV, if not this year, certainly in the next few years. The form factor of a cell phone does not make for an enjoyable viewing experience. Following in a close second, IP telephony will continue to frustrate customers with unreliable and variable quality. As mentioned earlier, podcasting will take a back seat to vodcasting, even though iPods are an equally challenging form factor for optimal viewing. Blogging will lose its luster in a major way in 2006. With the novelty all but worn off, many personal blogs will go to fallow, even with increasing growth of corporate blogs. RSS will become another marginalized technology term, downgraded from buzzword. It’s an enabling technology no more or less significant than HTML, and people will recognize it’s not worth headliner status in the news and at industry conferences. Mobile search will not gain wide acceptance in 2006, or even close, although it has a promising future.
So mark your calendars in late December and revisit everyone’s predictions and see whose visionary insights came to fruition and which flopped. Regardless of accuracy, 2006 is going to be a tremendous year for technology and marketing.