Last week’s posts were rather gloomy. Sorry about that but I was marking the end of a truly disastrous year. I realize that everyone knows 2008 stank and that it set the stage for what has to be the most terrifying economic conditions since the 1930’s. Again, that stinks but the truth is, we will all weather the coming storms in one way or another. Beyond those who simply give up, we will all come through this. In the end, we might even be a stronger and smarter society for it.
Difficult economic times prompt change. That simple and obvious fact provides a dozen or more rays of hope on the horizon for those who want to see them. It also provides dozens of opportunities for those who wish to seize them. This post hopes to outline some of the positive changes in the digital marketing sector and hopefully expose a few of those opportunities.
1/ Much has been written about declining revenues in the traditional media. Newspapers, terrestrial radio and broadcast television are losing advertising monies to the digital media. As websites like Craigslist.org present inexpensive and further reaching avenues for advertisers, news gathering organizations such as the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times are literally going bankrupt. The building housing the New York Times in south Midtown Manhattan is worth more than the business of producing one of the world’s greatest newspapers is. That means there are less professional reporters bringing information to our society. In a democratic society, less news means we are less informed which is an extraordinarily bad thing.
Conversely, each reporter receiving a pink-slip is presented with a tremendous opportunity, one already enjoyed by legions of informal reporters known a bloggers. People will always want information. We are (regardless of our behaviours), an intelligent and expansive species. In order to know which direction to move in, people rely on the opinions and observations of others. In the soon-to-be old-order, there were several filters between writers and readers. Now there are far fewer. While that might lead to a degeneration of the quality of information, it also allows an expansion of the quantity of information. In other words, information is not going to stop flowing from fingertips to eyeballs but those eyeballs will need to learn to better disseminate the good info from the bad.
Opportunities abound in the new world of digital media. Expect to see former journalists start new professions ranging from helping people better understand the information they are receiving to grinding out that information as they did before except it will be published digitally instead of on paper. The point being, nature abhors a vacuum and all vacuums will be quickly filled.
2/ Recessions and depressions are much like tsunamic brooms. They sweep away all detritus and distraction. If a business is not stable or well maintained, it will not stand the storm. In a cold and Darwinist way this is a good thing.
A few years ago, the search marketing world began being plagued by under-trained web services companies calling themselves SEOs. These firms left a fly-by-night feeling around the entire industry in the eyes of mainsteam advertisers, partially preventing search marketing from achieving the measure of success it is starting to enjoy today. Eventually the forces of litigation, education, experience and advocacy moved ad-buyers away from bad companies towards more stable and truly talented firms but many smaller businesses still fall prey to predators posing as honest service providers. I suspect a recession will deny these foul firms the raw food they require to continue and the forces of attrition will weed them out.
This presents at least two positive outcomes. The first is companies like ours and other honest and talented firms will not be tarred by the brush used on scamsters. The second is that small businesses will be able to focus digital marketing monies on successful outcomes and thus make money from their marketing efforts. Together, these outcomes serve to propel the search marketing industry forward.
3/ I am absolutely positive that Yahoo! will be a very different operation by the end of 2009.
When thinking about Yahoo!, one must remember that they are far more than a search appliance. Yahoo! constitutes the world’s largest content network. It holds patents on extraordinary technologies and has the infrastructure to accomplish technological miracles. The Yahoo! Shopping Network is still the world’s largest shopping mall. Even if it only virtually exists, it has the potential to eclipse big-box concerns like WalMart efficiency for efficiency. Think about this for a second. The big-box stores make a million pennies a minute by maximizing on every efficiency they can exploit. Why couldn’t a similar set of systems be devised between Fed-Ex, Yahoo!, and the millions of small stores that make up their shopping network?
Clarity at Yahoo! would be so very nice. I can’t find enough ways to say how wonderful clarity at Yahoo! would be. Webmasters are always looking for good places to do business and now more than ever, stable systems are needed. Note to Yahoo!… wanna know why it’s so hard to do ginormous amounts of business with and around you? We know you have the eyeballs, even if your organic and PPC search numbers are seen to be lower than Google’s. The content network is golden. It’s really because none of us know where, what, or even IF you will be tomorrow, that’s why.
I think Yahoo! will be there tomorrow but it’s revenue model will undergo a radical make-over. The world is ready for many initiatives Yahoo! started but shelved in previous years such as an expansion of the Yahoo! Publisher Network and the delivery of professionally produced digital entertainment. For web marketers, advertisers, webmasters and small to large businesses, a remake of Yahoo! in 2009 will present a wider range of advertising opportunities. This, of course, pre-supposes Yahoo!’s management and board of directors can get it together, placate angry investors and re-engage with the general public.
There are an enormous number of other good things that could come from the topsy turvy environment we’re in but all will have the same elements in common. Transition is brutal but it makes opportunity for those who are brave, honest and the savvy. There is one other opportunity to make note of. Guidance….
The greatest opportunity available right now is that of guidance. There’s a lot of businesses out there that really, really want someone they can trust to tell them how to put their messaging in front of people who might be interested in their services or products. That’s the business Metamend is in. On a personal level, many of us are feeling the fear of economic turbulence. We see our families and friends affected and worry we might be next. Chances are those worries, while perfectly rational, are for naught. Companies like Metamend will be stronger moving forward because we are able to offer twelve years of experience in the guidance we offer our clients and the general public. No matter what the economic conditions are, if you have something people value very much, you will have customers.