11 Internet Marketing Trends To Ignore in 2009

Ian Lurie

After having a bit of success with my 11 Internet Marketing Trends to Ignore in 2008, I thought I’d give it another shot.

My only totally incorrect predictions from 2008: E-books are catching on, and podcasts now capture a .002% audience, not .00001%. My bad.

  1. Analytics. Yeah, you heard me. I love analytics. But they’re gonna flop big-time in 2009 when everyone looks at everyone else and says “Holy crap. There’s no standards!” If a pageview on Google Analytics isn’t a pageview in Omniture, how the hell can anyone compare anything? Look for 2010 to be the Year of the Standards, and for someone to make millions of dollars talking about “Analytics 2.0”. At which point I’ll take out a contract on their worthless lives.
  2. Vertical Search. I hate to kick that dead dog again, but it sucked in 2007, it sucked in 2008, and it’ll continue to suck wind in 2009, assuming anyone actually bothers to try and start another vertical search service.
  3. Google Searchwiki. Actually, this service will do well. But spammers will abuse it. After 1 million people bury the #1 listing for “bailout” and it throws Google’s results on their ear, Google will implement new, undocumented policies that render Searchwiki utterly random.
  4. Mobile Advertising. Someone else called this a trend, saying it’ll “flourish”. I love the StrangeCorp blog, but flourish? I don’t think so. Maybe among us snobby elites, but it takes more than 10,000 to make a serious advertising market.
  5. The average web user will continue to refuse to even sniff curiously at RSS.
  6. Internet Explorer 8. Everyone’s talking about it. I don’t care. Google Chrome and FireFox will continue to take big bites out of IE, which will be released on December 31 2009 so Microsoft can keep their promise.
  7. Content marketing. 2008 was the Year of Crappy Content. Everyone who thought they could write slapped together an ebook (cough) and threw it on the web for sale. 2009 will be The Year We Go Broke, when we realize spending 4 days to write a 30 page booklet that earns a total of $300 a month isn’t worth it.
  8. Social Media Conferences. In 2008 these things sprang up like zits on my forehead when I was 14. In 2009 layoffs, travel costs and the utter horror of air travel in the US will thin things out a bit.
  9. Nofollow. The concept of pagerank sculpting will die a horrific death when Matt Cutts reveals it never existed, and he was just messing with us.
  10. Twitter monetization. OK, I’m addicted to Twitter, I admit it. But how the hell will Twitter make money?
  11. Yahoo!’s Downfall. Further indication the world has gone insane: The banking system has collapsed, the Big 3 are bankrupt, we lost 500,000 jobs in November 2008, and we’re bitching about Yahoo!’s “decline”. Why are we mourning the ‘failure’ of the #2 search company on the planet? A company that is profitable?!

This is NOT investment advice! As always, I take no responsibility for the accuracy of these predictions. Note that my stock portfolio has lost at least 50% of its value in the last 12 months.

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Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. Way to put your opinions out on the line. I love posts like this, because it forces me to question my own thoughts. Am I really caught up in the hype myself?
    1. I like analytics. I think that with the economy the way it is, companies are going to really buckle down and get serious about measuring success. No, GA and Omniture don’t track things the same, but that’s a recognized shortcoming. We still don’t have consistencies across browsers, so I REALLY don’t think we’ll ever get it from metrics packages. I think that’s just a given, but it’s not going to prevent ppl from trying to measure success.
    4. To piggyback on the above, I think that mobile WILL take off (albeit, still without standards). I think it will be easier to justify since there is a whole movement towards mobile analytics. We still don’t know how to measure ROI on Social Media, yet many companies feel they need to do something. I think mobile is the next front, and the fact that the analytics question is already being considered may mean it’s an easier sell.
    5. I agree re: RSS. We need some mad RSS education/marketing for the layman.

  2. @Andrea RE: Analytics, I agree. They’re a must. I’m one of the biggest proponents of analytics. But organizations will eventually lose their interest if we can’t develop standards.

  3. In regards to Twitter, there are many people and companies that are using Twitter to make money. For example Dell just announced a week or so ago that made 1 million dollars selling their outlet stuff on their twitter blog, so there are some opportunities for eCommerce guys. Internet marketers are making money on twitter by creating relationships and driving traffic to their money sites

  4. @Ian – who do you think can or should establish standards for analytics? Do you think the vendors will ever come together, or will it have to come from practitioners to force standards (or at least to recognize how the different platforms differ, and publish some sort of ‘translation’ specification so that results from different services can be compared?

  5. I usually read lists like these and find a couple points I agree with and many to quibble with – but I can’t find a thing to quibble with, even some I hadn’t thought about I must go “he’s right!” – maybe we’re just the same kind of cynics.
    Anyway, some great pragmatic and sane points, debunking some fads, being realistic at the speed at which certain things are likely to happen. Loved it 😀
    1. Analytics – are useful insight for a publisher comparing itself from month to month, and learning about their audience. Nowhere near as useful to marketeers and advertisers, especially useless to compare across the market. Glad to see the market is slowly starting to agree. Measures of value of a site as a place to use/message have yet to be figured out, so are ways to identify an audience.
    2. Vertical search. This one hurts as I have been involved in it and believe that many professional groups are very poorly served by google. We need vertical and semantic search, and in vertical search the concept of community/social should really work well. The problem of course being that the cost of building these cannot be supported by b2b advertising (which has collapsed in 2008 in some of the fields I was involved in last year). So the only option I see is some smart people building vertical search on top of google or yahoo, as these become more open via APIs etc. – but that wont be 2009, more like 2010 if not later
    3. I hate the idea of searchwiki so obviously like your analysis. Mine was a little different but got to the same conclusions – community voting only works when there is a certain unity of community. Someone might vote a site down because it isn’t what they are looking for, even though it is a perfectly excellent response to their query! It will indeed be random even if no one plays it, just because of the diversity of users.
    7. I sincerely hope you are right. Search for anything nowadays and you will find 10 pages of results listing hundreds of sites with the very same recycled content, cookie cutter sites and ebooks going through the money making recipe.
    9. What concerns me is that I get the impression that the twitter management team hadnt really planned on needing to monetize. The iwantsandy acquisition shows that their thinking at the moment is going towards agent-based-services as a way to monetize. Could work.
    10. I’m considered a yahoo smitten person on FF, saying exactly that kind of things, so you end with a bang in my opinion.
    You sure got me thinking, excellent stuff. I could go on but perhaps I’ll stop and go write my own list. Challenging stuff, thanks!

  6. “How the hell will twitter make money?” great question! I never seriously thought about it. I wonder if they will end up sending sponsored advertisements as tweets a couple of times a day and if they do …how will users react?

  7. Ian, I completely agree with your prediction on content marketing. There are millions pretending to be experts at just about anything and too many marketers willing to promote bad ebooks and programs just to earn an affiliate commission, that I’ve lost my trust in most of what I read.

  8. Analytics: Webmasters don’t need to compare stats between packages nearly as much as they need to analyze trends. Unless there’s a major hole in the statistical method, what matters more is the ability to produce actionable business decisions like “buy more of these keywords” or “quit spamming craigslist.”
    RSS: I’m a web developer and network admin and I don’t even use RSS. What’s really needed is a super-easy way to “jack in” which I think will come about shortly. 1-2 years ago your average VP didn’t know what a “blog” was, yet now they’re on Twitter and have their own WordPress. Hell, half of my twitter feeds are based on RSS. The problem is accessibility, not technology.

  9. Ian, I agree that it’s ridiculous and frustrating that we have no idea what a “visit” or a “visitor” really means as an industry standard.
    However, I do think that analytics are invaluable for a site to have some idea of its performance, measured against its own goals, markets, and history.
    After all, if one of your primary landing pages has a 90% bounce rate, isn’t it still important to know that?
    Great blog!

  10. @Philippa I’m going to write a post about why I think standards are so important. I of course think analytics are critical to any successful campaign. But I think their value will decrease if we can’t tell clients in terms of more consistent numbers. I don’t even think it’s a fair expectation – other analytics, like Nielsen for TV, are woefully unscientific.

  11. Re: Analytics – I have to disagree with you on this one. I work with many clients on analytics and inconsistencies across web analytic packages is not their top concern. What is their top concern is understanding trends on their site and determining which marketing tactics are working best for them. We can easily go a few years before most companies bump into a “standards” issue. Good analysts are used to dealing with data inconsistencies.

  12. Analytics – The only point I disagree with.
    “organizations will eventually lose their interest…”
    Organizations and/or people will never lose their interest in analytics. Give someone a pretty chart with graphs and numbers and they go happily running to Sr. Mgmt for show and tell as if it were gospel.

  13. I couldn’t agree with you more on these issues.
    I think the one that hits home the most for me is the one about crappy content. With all the article submitters that hit the market last year I am surprised people are still reading.
    Thank you for your original and transparent content. Here is to you having a great 2009.

  14. I’m totally concerned with Google analytics, because the lion’s share of my site visitors are Google users. So I could really care less about other analytics, except of course Quantcast.

  15. Personally I am a fan of StatCounter but also use Google Analytics. It’s interesting to see how the information collected isn’t the same so it would be really nice to see standards.
    I really like the ebook comment. It was amazing how many emails I received about ‘check out this cool ebook” or something to that effect. I didn’t buy any because to me the content in the ebooks were normally found by just doing a few more searches.
    I tried out Google Chrome, wasn’t very impressed and went back to Firefox. I like Firefox the best since it’s not constantly crashing.
    Thank you for the great list and I look forward to your 2010 list.

  16. Wow, what a list! Going to be tough to decide which one I agree most with. I sure HOPE IE continues to slide…with IE I always feel “forced” to do things…with Firefox I feel like they give me “options.”

  17. Great follow up to your 2008 list. Don’t agree with everything (I love analytics damn it!) but pretty sound for the most part.

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