There's always room for improvement.
Back in 2002, I capped off my first year writing for ClickZ with a wish list. It outlined my hopes for our industry in the coming year. It isn't that I was dissatisfied with the current or past situation. But there's always room for improvement.
Forgive the pun, but 2006 was a banner year. There was no shortage of work for interactive media buyers as online ad spending continued to grow. New media and growing trends may have made planning more challenging, but they also made it more fun.
So I find this year, my wish list is topped with three little words: as you were. Along with the hope (and expectation) things will continue to move in the preferred direction, I give you a few ways in which interactive marketing could become even better.
We Two Kings
Consumer Generated Media (CGM), brand democratization, and citizen marketing turned the Internet user into the marketer this year. Though this was certainly a blow to some egos, we've taken it in stride. Marketers are becoming more comfortable with giving up some of their power to their customers, knowing they'll likely get more loyalty and word of-mouth sales as a result.
That said, the novelty of this trend means best practices are virtually non-existent. It's a case of trial and error, and the errors can be dire. My wish for brand marketers, therefore, is that they'll approach soliciting ad material and product feedback from consumers with the prudence and respect it deserves.
It's far too easy to fall back into old habits and attempt to micromanage such campaigns. The surrender of control will have to extend beyond appearances for a progressive relationship with consumers to work for all parties involved. Marketers will have to think all potential outcomes (even the negative ones) through in advance. When mega brands and millions are at stake, a few unfortunate experiences threaten to spoil the bunch.
Paid Search for All, and For All a Good Fight
Internet search saw a shift in power this year as well. Everyday folk realized they, too, can promote themselves online. Paid search advertising leveled the playing field to allow proactive local businesses access to the same ad space as the nation's largest brands.
As paid search marketers go up against the little guys, I hope they'll take it as an opportunity to continue to hone their craft. Keyword lists, ad copy, and targeting techniques should be dynamic, not static. The increasing sophistication of proletarian advertisers is an ideal driver for bettering campaigns and campaign strategies for the good of our clients -- and ourselves.Fifty E-mail Forwards
There's nothing like a game, video, or message with mass appeal to generate company interest and site traffic. We all like to hear stories of companies that have found great success with viral marketing. But as with CGM, for every great success there is a colossal failure. You just can't force a phenomenon.
Next year, and in the years to come, it might behoove us to think of viral marketing more as happy accident than a marketing technique. Not only is it too difficult to gauge potential consumer response, but few brands actually have the mass appeal to warrant a mass campaign. When creative is developed for the latter, the advertiser usually loses out.
As 2006 draws to a close, my wish for you and yours is a happy and healthy 2007. Write to me with your own wish list for the New Year, and let's raise a glass to another banner year.
Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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