Where is Online Marketing Heading in 2009?

There is so much buzz out there about the decline of traditional media and the major shifts to online platforms.  Companies are making these transitions for many reasons including cost effectiveness and measurability.  These dramatic shifts have spurred the development of great market research that shows us what industries are leading online ad spending, who the online audiences are, and what Internet marketing mediums are gaining the most popularity.  Nielsen’s recent report title “The Global Online Media Landscape” is packed with information on all these categories.

What industries are leading the pack in online spending?

We have seen a change in this arena.  Financial services firms, retail and the auto industry have been the leaders in online ad spending in the recent past but due to obvious economic conditions, this has changed.  Now, we see that the top four industries in online marketing are pharmaceutical companies, healthcare, telecommunications companies, and packaged goods manufacturers.  On the retail side we have seen a big drop off in online ad spending just at the time when they should be ramping up.  More consumers are buying online and searching for coupon deals.  The buying still persists in areas such as apparel, electronics, etc.

What are the demographics for people spending the most time online?

The United States has seen the largest surge in the age group of 50+.  The days of assuming baby boomers are not online is over.  They are now among the leaders in online usage.  This change is even more interesting in the area of social media/social networking.  Social media has taken the world by storm and it is forcing us to look at things differently.  Social media has forced companies, marketers, and market research firms to view online communities with a newfound respect, to change the way we gather market research, and to change the way people view online marketing. 

One of the most interesting demographic growths in social networking has been “New Moms” between the ages of 25 and 35.  If you think about it is quite obvious.  Younger new Moms that spend more time at home are seeking advice and friendship and do so through sites like Facebook and MySpace.  Here they can keep up and what’s going on with friends and family, post pics and video, and have ongoing social interaction from the comfort of home.  According to Nielsen, younger Moms are 85% more likely to spend sugnificant time on Facebook than any other consumer.

What Internet marketing mediums are gaining the most popularity?

As far as spending goes, search is still leading the pack but the three areas of greatest growth in popularity are social media, online video, and mobile marketing.  According to Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google), they forsee making more money in mobile marketing than through the desktop eventually.  People spend more time with their phones than anything else.  Mobile marketing is still in experimental stages and we have yet to fully understand whether consumers will warm to this over time.  In the US, 50 million mobile subscribers access the web via their phones each month.  Additionally, smart phones and faster 3G networks are making web access that much easier.

Online video has enjoyed tremendous growth and although YouTube is still the leader, there are many other sights gaining momentum in the “long-form” video arena.  From February 2008 to 2009, the viewers of online video grew 10%, the streams per user grew 27%, and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71% (Nielsen, 2009).

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Social media has gained such tremendous growth that companies in all industries can no longer ingore the opportunity to listen and engage their customers.  The question remains for each industry…how do we best pursue social media for our brand and how do we gain the best possible ROI?  True social media engagement can be utilized for many purposes.  Companies can now effectively listen to their consumers and engage them in ongoing discussions.  The days of Web 1.0 are over as consumers are more likely to ask others about products and expect to find feedback online.  This can be scary to some companies but true transparency is becoming the norm (especially in this economy).  As video and mobile marketing continue to grow, social media will grow right along with it.  Mobile access if actually furling the fire for social media marketing as more and more consumers are accessing their Facebook and Twitter pages through their phones.

What does all this mean for Internet marketing?

It means great things.  Thought 2009 may not be a record year for online ad spending, Internet marketing/advertising will still beat out all other forms of media.  One of the interesting areas to watch will be how the “paid” online advertising interacts with (or competes with) “earned” online marketing.  Earned marketing refers to consumer acceptance and feedback (user-generated content).  In the long run, and according to Google, the more earned media exposure you can get the better!

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