Over the past year, I've written about many alternative perspectives and non-traditional approaches to using new and emerging forms of digital media. As we move toward a future that looks very bright from a digital media perspective, I'd like to ask content developers, media executives, and advertisers to consider my pleas for a stronger digital marketplace.
A marketplace based on ideas, opportunity, and consumer relevance. More Web sites based on ideas instead of traditional business models.
Many of the past year's more popular Web sites were based on the primary goal of attracting eyeballs in order to convert them to advertising dollars.
While I don't have a problem with aggregating audiences, I do have a problem with Web sites that are in the business of replicating ideas in order to outsell their competition. A stronger ad sales capability may be beneficial to a site owner, but it doesn't mean anything to a user.
In 2008, I hope to see more innovation in content offerings, Web applications, and social networks, as well as new ideas that leverage the distributive power of the Web to challenge old business models and offer consumers new opportunities.
Social Networking is Real
Last year, we saw brands rush into the social networking game in enormous droves. Some built their own social network sites, while others dipped their toes in the water with advertising campaigns.
Even if you're still on the sidelines with your social networking strategy, it won't hurt to socialize your site with sharing and networking features that encourage users to participate in conversations and move your content around. Social networking isn't a fad. It's a must-have, mainstream feature set for your Web site.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting you set your users up on blind dates with one another, or allow people to create personal profiles. Instead, feed the appetites of users who want to copy and paste the Web.
Make Mobile Relevant
All signs point to 2008 as being the year for mobile marketing. The iPhone, the Google "Android" platform, and a GPS-less location aware service from Google all have made the future of mobile marketing much more promising.
The only thing we're lacking is greater support from North American carriers and innovative marketing programs using mobile as a relevant service instead of another advertising platform.
Remember: mobile devices are becoming the most trusted item we carry every day. This is a place for personal messages, private conversations, and photos of our kids and loved ones -- not necessarily a place to learn about test drives and clean, fresh breath in the form of a banner ad that can't be read while you're checking the weather.
If you're going to integrate into the personal lives of others, provide a service or program that enhances their life -- instead of interrupts it.
App-ify Everything, Be Everywhere
I recently wrote about distributing your presence in order to provide access to your brand across a variety of platforms. It's one thing to have a Web site, but where are you for users who are on other Web sites, social networks, or mobile and gaming platforms?
Consider widgets, social network applications, and mobile sites in order to provide easy access to your brand no matter where you are.
Good luck to you all in 2008. Let's make it a year we'll never forget.
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Chad Stoller is the executive director of emerging platforms at Organic Inc., a leading digital communications agency with clients such as DaimlerChrysler, Sprint, and Bank of America. In this role, Chad leads Organic's strategy on client communication platforms and Organic's Experience Lab. Prior to Organic, he spent 13 years at Arnell Group in various roles, including director of communications solutions, and was responsible for branded entertainment, new media, branded gaming, and marketing alliances. He has developed a series of award-winning programs, including the Cannes Lion winner, "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker," for Reebok and Jeep Evo 4 x 4 for DaimlerChrysler. Chad is also a regular contributor to Organic's blog, ThreeMinds.
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