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!


  1. Steve December 31st, 2008

    One of the impacts of Web 2.0 may be to highlight the limitations of what SEM can accomplish. I think I’m probably not alone among people who for the most part use search engines to research features and prices for products I already plan to buy. So if you draw me to your fancy landing page with your tractor-beam-of-hotness ad copy, that gets you market share (I buy from your wrinkle cream guy instead of someone else’s) but it doesn’t grow the market (convince me that I need wrinkle cream in the first place, which I probably do if I’m up at midnight commenting on this frickin’ blog).Enter Web 2.0, which mechanizes many of the means by which markets do grow – word of mouth, influencers at the center of the networks in your target market and other more trustworthy sources (i.e., not algorithms, as you note). That mechanization will (probably already does) make visions of hard data dance in the heads of marketers who might finally be able to literally track a message from their hip exposed brick office space, through the fashionable people of the coasts and all the way down to the point where it gets to me and my Midwestern peers until it is finally flushed out the bottom of our cultural plumbing into Canada.You pooh-pooh brand awareness, but I think this is mainly because there is no mechanism for linking epiphanies to people and their dollars (and hence no ROI measure). Web 2.0 will get people thinking that it is that the effectiveness of awareness campaigns might get a whole lot easier to calculate. Right now it seems like we are in the dillusionment trough, where people who thought they’d make a billion selling ads Google-style on their social networking site are going broke and cursing the hype. But in 2009 a few might survive by figuring out a way to track and take credit for the market growth they create through the social communications they foster in their network(s). It’s much tougher than taking credit for the market share you stole (via good SEM), but it’s potentially more lucrative. And of course, there is no reason you can’t use people’s networks to take market share too.

  2. David Rodnitzky January 1st, 2009

    Great points Steve. I think your true calling is marketing, not SOX compliance or energy deregulation. I agree with you that SEM does not currently work for brand awareness or product building, but only for products/services where there is an established user intent. Whether Web 2.0 could actually do a better job than SEM is still questionable. Of course, I love collaborative filtering technologies like StumbleUpon and Del.icio.us, and I can see a future where consumers are exposed to new products through this technology, and the ability to measure the value of brand awareness is a game-changer as well. The trouble, however, is that this is so far removed from the understanding of Madison Avenue brand marketers that it may be many years before that sort of sophistication arrives in the branding community. Whether those 2.0 companies currently disappointed by their SEM revenues can survive in the meantime is an outstanding question!Enjoy your first Midwest winter :)

  3. Steve January 2nd, 2009

    I take it all back. I just searched for information on “short-term load forecasting” and learned all about short-term loans from the friendly ads! I definitely wasn’t thinking about how much I could use a short-term loan until these ads showed me the light.

  4. Jag January 13th, 2009

    Is this really fact? :)My favorite example: one of my clients was being charged $10,000 an hour by their former consulting firmAnd nothing done for business promtion, its disgusting!

Leave a Comment

David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.