1. Mobile has finally arrived (thank you iPhone). Yes, people have been talking about mobile since 2000, but the iPhone finally makes it possible to use cool applications on your phone and surf the Internet in a somewhat normal way. Advertising, while still mostly for mobile applications, is not far behind.
2. Web 2.0 is cool, but not yet an advertising medium for most. Facebook is growing at 600,000 users a day, but I’ve yet to see the ROI from advertising on it or other Web 2.0 apps (other than for marketing mobile apps). Will this happen in 2009? I’d say there’s a good chance, considering the fact that the recession is causing 2.0 companies to stop talking eyeballs and start talking dollars.
3. SEOs don’t know SEM, SEMs don’t know SEO. SEO and SEM are separate fields. SEOs still seem to write about SEM like they understand it. They don’t.
4. The algorithm is dead, most people just don’t know it yet. The SERPs in Google these days are ridiculous – filled with affiliates, fake affiliates, content-for-hire, and outright spam. Let’s face it, algorithms don’t work, they are too easily gamed. Someone is going to figure this out, either Google or an upstart competitor.
5. Google’s competitors are still lame. Yahoo should have sold to MSN. MSN should fix the UI for AdCenter. Expect similar missteps in 2009.
6. Sphinn was a great idea, but has failed to deliver on its promise. I wish I could rely on Sphinn to deliver the best SEM/SEO/SMO articles across the Internet, but instead its just an old boys network promoting each other’s articles (increasing, it seems, to themselves).
7. Google continues to deliver incredible reporting tools. Geographic reporting, Google versus Search Network, Placement Performance – these are all game changers for those who know how to use them. I expect more great stuff in 2009 from the AdWords team.
8. There are a lot of bad SEM consultants out there. Some are bad because they don’t know what they are doing, others are part of giant agencies that talk a good talk but are stuck in brand-marketing world, but I suspect that most are bad because they simply don’t spend enough (or any) time on their accounts. My favorite example: one of my clients was being charged $10,000 an hour by their former consulting firm (who had spent exactly 1.5 hours over three months on their account!).
9. Retention is the key to online success. Doesn’t matter if you are in ecommerce, B2B or Web 2.0, if you don’t care about long-term customer relationships, your business can’t survive. The online world is too competitive. Slash-and-burn business models worked in 2002, but they are dinosaurs in 2008 and beyond.
10. The (Internet) world is flat. The cost of building a Web site has gone down to almost nothing. Ideas can be spread in seconds. A start-up in Oklahoma can become just as successful as one in Silicon Valley, and an engineer in Russia can communicate with you just as well as the one down the street. The Internet is global, which means that customers, employees, and competition are global. For some businesses, this is a huge advantage, but for others, the barriers to entry are disappearing alarmingly fast.
I had a great 2008 and I wish everyone a great 2009!