Despite writing this during the marketing spending doldrums of a cold 2008 winter, I am equally warmed by hot chocolate and a heated optimism about the future of online marketing. In fact, similar to those who feel there are unequalled investment opportunities to be had during this recession, I believe that from this economic shakedown the online marketing sector is going to emerge stronger than ever, creating a Golden Age of Online Marketing.
Data from Q4 2008 shows that online spending slowed along with other media spending; however, investment in online marketing is still on the ascendant (albeit at a slower rate than over the past several years) while other media – particularly traditional media spending – has seen serious declines. By all accounts, 2009 will be a rough year, but through this turmoil I believe the online marketing space will continue to gain traction as the core of marketer strategic focus (and thus, a magnet for marketer spending). In fact, the decidedly oppressive economic backdrop against which this process is taking place actually plays well to the online marketing sector’s historical causes célèbre: better, more measurable marketing programs with clear ROI and immediate impact. So, when CMO’s do take their feet off the spending brake sometime next year (I just knocked on wood), the acceleration effect on this sector will be tremendous!
In addition to the decade-long, broader natural ‘balancing’ of spending across media, where money continues to chase eyeballs, the Internet will further establish itself as the “hub” of marketing focus and expenditures simply because it is uniquely online where companies’ dialogues with customers and prospects increasingly takes place. Per this power position, online marketing firms will increasingly drive client strategy, control brands, and lead trends…thus, as direct beneficiaries of all of the above, the players in this space will enjoy their Golden Age!