Marketing Trends from the Digital Frontlines
The web and ways to market on the web continue to evolve at warp speed – we see some positive and negative changes occurring – our observations du jour:
1. Publishers are finally starting to charge for branded content. It’s still difficult to do, but we are seeing many newsletter publishers charging from $30-100 per subscriber per annum. And, most importantly, many people are finally starting to accept the need to pay for quality content.
2. Contrary to popular opinion, the web’s epicenter is not San Francisco, Tokyo, Washington D.C./northern VA, Seattle, London or Austin. There is no epicenter … it’s everywhere. We now have over 427M (Dataquest & Nua) people using the web and its truly become a global medium/marketing venue/information highway.
3. More good news for e-commerce enabled business models. Recent published reports (Boston Consulting Group & eShop) indicate customer acquisition costs have dropped from $45 per individual customer in Q-4 of 2000 to $18 in Q-1 in 2001.
4. Adobe continues to push PDF format as a web standard. Over 32% of corporate web sites today have Acrobat PDF-enabling their web sites. Why we will never know (?), as it isn’t an HTML standard but was originally developed to facilitate printing of documents. And, it doesn’t work well on many web sites, especially for those coming in with slow connections or when you are trying to view more than a couple of pages.
5. Surprise, surprise! Splash pages are still increasing in popularity, with an estimated 18% of web sites today incorporating them. Let’s be clear: we think they are really lame (to use a technical marketing term). They slow down the user experience and cause many people to click away from a web site in annoyance with no bookmark and no return visit.
6. Opt-in e-mail continues to grow in popularity and to reflect the web’s ability to handle rich media content. The HTML format is rapidly becoming standard in many e-mail campaigns and we are starting to see streaming audio and video plug in components (running in the background) and even integrated voice mail, as just announced last month by YesMail. But, watch those conversion rates fall; opt-in e-mail is in danger of becoming this year’s banner advertising.
7. Newsletters have become mainstream ways to communicate with customers, generate revenue via ad inserts and drive a brand into the marketplace. Now there are ASP (application service provider) solutions being brought to market by Microsoft and many others than enable a small or large company to manage all aspects of newsletter marketing via a browser.
8. No secret the web is maturing. There’s been a media firestorm the last few weeks about how only four companies (AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo and Napster) commanded approximately 50% of the overall traffic on the web. Most disturbing to those of us not with the aforementioned companies (Sidebar: am sure Steve Case and Bob Pittman are very happy), eleven companies commanded this percentage about a year ago.
9. Traditional media is experiencing the same market downturn that interactive ad agencies have been getting. Look at your recent Newsweek, Der Stern, Time, Business 2.0, Upside, Fast Company, or Wired and you’ll see they would do Jenny Craig proud – they’ve lost a lot of ad weight.
10. Popups, popovers, popunders – whatever the term you want to use for those annoying interstitial types of ads are still continuing to be deployed on more and more web sites. We think they are just bad marketing and are being used by sites or companies that can’t figure out how to generate revenue with content (see #1) or, dare we say, real services!