Cranky But Cranked Up for 2006

As I closed out 2005, I reflected on the year behind us and the year ahead. It’s been a phenomenal year, from the resurgence in online advertising to the ever-expanding budgets allocated to all forms of online marketing. I constantly describe this newfound respect as online marketing moving out of its Rodney Dangerfield phase.

Nevertheless, there are some things I feel obliged to complain about while writing what I’m excited about.

Making Me Cranky

  • Information overload. I feel completely inundated with news and information, and it’s really wearing on me. I can’t be the only one, either. It’s bad enough I have more traditional news sources to contend with than ever, but now there’s email, RSS (define), blogs, SMS (define), podcasts, and every other thing out there. It’s getting to the point where I cringe every time I hear a jingle, ding, or buzz. Can’t I just walk around ignorant? At least I’d have some peace.

  • Blog hype. Each year the media latches on to and hyper-promotes one or two things in Internet Marketing Land; it was advertising in the late ’90s, followed by email, search, and now blogging. I’m sorry, but blogging isn’t new, people. I first published an article about it in 2001. But because it’s a buzzword, everyone wants to capitalize on the hype as if the mere fact one has a blog is a big deal. Whoop-dee-doo. Blogging is great, but blogs are also just another means to publish on the Web. Blogs can be Web sites and Web sites can be blogs. It’s time to move on to the next big thing.
  • Unrealistic advertising ROI metrics. I’m hugely excited about the revival of dollars directed toward online advertising, but it’s next to impossible to escape measuring the campaign’s performance against standards that are often unrealistic or unattainable. Online advertising isn’t search, and it seldom outperforms it. Online advertising attracts window shoppers, not buyers, and, consequently, the conversion rates from online ad campaigns tend to be weaker.

    The dilemma is running those numbers before a campaign can scare an advertiser away, particularly a direct response advertiser with tight ROI (define) metrics, but not doing so can make the campaign look like a dismal failure. Couple that with the fact finding the right combination of site, placement, message, and ad creative that actually performs to the advertiser’s metric can be extremely time consuming and, therefore, costly. The entire process is hardly formulaic, which makes profitable media planning and buying tough, especially at modest budget levels. Sometimes, I wish there were such a thing as a simple online ad buy.

  • Unethical media reps. Perhaps it’s naive of me to think there would be ethics in advertising, but I’m really cranky about media reps or publishers who contact my clients directly, despite the fact they know we’ve already pitched the client on their buy or, worse, we already have a live campaign with them. You may have a great site or network, but you just moved to the bottom of my list for any future considerations. There are just too many fish in the sea.

Getting Me Cranked Up

  • 2006’s rosy outlook. Hold on to your hats, folks! It feels as if the stars are finally aligning, and 2006 will be a kick-butt year. More dollars will flow to online and electronic marketing in general, and more consolidations and big announcements are due to be made.

  • Search industry’s continued growth. Search engines seem to be making more headlines than search marketing these days, but that doesn’t mean things will slow down. Although demand for organic search optimization grows, the options for paid exposure generated by search also continue to grow, as do other means to leverage search. As the search powerhouses continue to duke it out — and morph from search companies to full-blown media, marketing, and technology companies. You have to wonder what this landscape will look like in a mere 12 months.
  • Video convergence. Though we in the industry have been reading about the Internet/video convergence for a while, the pace of implementation continues to pick up and will be the sleeper hit of 2006, much like podcasting in for 2005.

I could probably go on with both lists, but I’ve got limited space. What makes you cranky or cranked up? Send me your feedback!

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