Happy B-Day To Us: 10 Biggest Digital Media & Marketing Topics Over the Last Year 1

By Kyle Austin

Just as Google celebrated its 10th B-Day over the weekend, we celebrated our 1st B-Day (albeit to slightly less fanfare). So while gloating that we share our September 27 birthday with the Montain View giant (as long as they don’t switch it again); I took a look back at our 250 posts over the last year to define the ten biggest stories which occurred at the intersection of marketing, media and the Internet.  Did I miss anything or should I move some stories around?

#10) Facebook Beacon: “Once every hundred years media changes,” declared Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on November 6 of last year, while launching its Beacon advertising system. His message was meant to declare that advertising is a social experience online and Facebook would leverage this to forever change the landscape of marketing and advertising. It was an admirable goal and Facebook was on the right track. The holy grail of the next generation ad network is intelligently engaging in brand discussion and behaviorally targeting individuals at every touch point in their lives. However, Zuckerberg and Facebook made some missteps along the way with its targeting technology, which led to severe media and PR backlash. The result? Marketers and advertisers dropped out, Beacon’s targeting was questioned and the next generation of online marketing was delayed.

#9) Murdoch Re-shapes the Wall Street Journal into a Bizzaro New York Times: With Rupert Murdoch finalizing his bid to acquire Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal a month before we kicked off RaceTalk last year, it became part of our regular conversation. In late April, Murdoch made his biggest power play to-date, by pushing out managing editor Marcus Brauchli. He then took aim at relaunching the WSJ.com and launched the quarterly WSJ magazine. Today’s Wall Street Journal doesn’t resemble the business daily that it did at this time last year. Business coverage on the front page of the Wall Street Journal was down more then 50 percent (before the market crisis) – leaving marketing, advertising and PR managers to reassess their relationships with the outlet, which now resembles a conservative New York Times.

#8) Mainstream Media Goes Social: Fast Company was the first major print outlet to take the jump by completely changing its online site into a social community in February. Over the last two-months three other major outlets have blended social community with their online publications including the New York Times with “Times People,” BusinessWeek with Business Exchange and the Wall Street Journal with its Journal Community. With this new ability to be part of the real-time editorial conversation (within the online walls of these publications) – marketers and communication’s executives have a new window into story creation.

#7) Facebook, iPhone, Widgets & Applications Everywhere: While the iPhone 3G and the introduction of the GPhone has not sparked a surge in advertising spend for mobile devices, it has made advertising a common aspect of the mobile experience (77 million users in the U.S. report seeing advertising on their mobile device in Q2 of this year, according to Nielson). The fully readable Web experience, which the iPhone provides, allows marketers to target users in the way they target Web traffic. More importantly, it provides a bigger current opportunity with the application and widget market, which was originally spawned by Facebook opening up its site to developers in May of last year. Widget and application marketing isn’t just for start-ups looking to create buzz. Major corporations like Wal-Mart and eBay have launched successful “widget marketing campaigns.”

#6: I Blog, You Blog, We All Blog: According to the latest Technorati “State of the Blogosphere”report, 95 of the top 100 newspapers now have reporter blogs. In the month of August alone, 77 million unique visitors from the US visited a blog. Any “old media,” types hoping that we may revert back to the olden days of media better look for a new job. If you, your media outlet or even your Fortune 500 corporation isn’t blogging or creating original content – you’re way behind.

#5 We All Get Green: As Ben followed closely throughout the year, all organizations were rushing to get their green marketing message down to incorperate into their Website or perhaps a micro-site. In fact, so many people were jumping on the green marketing message that many questioned if it was even a competitive advantage anymore. However, some organizations like Marriott understood that the green message needed to be part of a bigger corporate strategy around sustainability, which can have immediate and future bottom-line business benefits. A strategy and message that has real “staying” power.

#4) The Viral Video Goes Mainstream: Whether it was Barack Obama, Kanye West, Jerry Seinfeld & Microsoft, Stride Gum or Sarah Palin – everyone seemed to be part of the growing world of viral videos. Slate’s new online business magazine TheBigMoney.com, even has a feature that is called “YouTube Brandwatch,” which analyzes “how the world’s best-known businesses, so adept at managing their images offline, are being perceived online, where control is harder to come by.”

#3) Big Business Harnesses the Power of the Crowds: Just as the mainstream media finally agreed to relinquish some control to the power of the crowds, “big business” appeared to be harnessing the same approach. While monitoring customers’ opinions online has been fairly common for years, this year marked the first time that major corporations leveraged Web 2.0 technology to launch their own social networks in an effort to incorporate customer ideas into corporate strategy. Michael Dell and Dell was one major corporation to take the leap by launching IdeaStorm. The idea, simplified: “Harness consumer feedback and ideas on current products, build better products in the future.” Starbucks took a similar approach with “My Starbucks Idea,” to harness consumers’ thoughts on services and products within its coffee shops.

#2) Microsoft Bids for Yahoo!; Yahoo! Goes with Google: Arguably the second biggest and most covered business-related news story of the year (not including anything that has been a part of the current Wall Street meltdown). At first the deal appeared to signify the start of a cold war between Microsoft and Google. The failure of Microsoft to close the deal, which led to Yahoo!’s partnership with Google – Now poses a looming question in D.C –“Is Google Monopolizing Monetization on the Internet?” Marketers, advertisers and publishers seem to be leaning towards “yes” in answering that question and the future of advertising on the Internet may hang in the balance.

#1) Twitter: The adoption rate has been freakish and so has the media coverage and usage. At first we laughed at its importance and then we marveled at the tools which were following in its path. Now, it’s the storyline of a new CNN show and has kicked off the idea of Web 3.0 or the “Live Web.” For marketers and communication’s executives it points to the new battle ground of “brand management,” which has become a major bullet point on our job descriptions. For consumers it represents a new way to take control of the media conversation. For media it finally leverages the idea of “crowd sourcing.” It is even reshaping the way we discuss and gauge presidential debates.

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