We’re always hearing about the Next Big Thing on the web but the reality is that the majority of new trends are likely to end in failure. Mark Simon, a guru with search engine marketing firm Didit, gave the Advertising Age his tips for web trends that aren’t going to make it.
1. Second Life could be doomed. Virtual reality platforms such as Second Life are struggling with usability and viability. Today, walking (or flying) through these branded areas is more chilling and depressing than walking through an abandoned amusement park.
2. The phony recommendation industry. Secretly paid for word-of-mouth advertising called “pay per post” is going to be found out. Those who dabble in pay per post or its deranged cousin, “astroturfing” (phony grass-roots marketing using blogs) are playing with fire and shouldn’t be surprised when the brands they’re supposed to be shepherding get toasted once the ruse is discovered.
3. Smart ads aren’t so smart. Advertising software has been created that tailors ads based on the historical search behaviour of the user. Increasingly, however, people are sharing their computers, which means that Spouse A is going to be targeted with ads based on Spouse B’s search behavior. What could be more irrelevant?
4. Audio based pre-roll ads that no-one listens to. How often do you listen to those audio-based ads that automatically start playing when you click onto a webpage? Most users turn down or mute the sound to save their fellow workers exposure to the noise.
5. Intrusive mobile marketing. Someone watching TV is probably relaxing, but a person using a mobile device could be doing almost anything, from the fanciful and to the drop-dead serious. They will never take kindly to advertising that interposes itself between them and a critical task.
Online companies like Buy.com and Lemonade.com have recently introduced services allowing Internet users to create kiosks on their social networking home pages, allowing users sell everything from their old couches to $300 shoes.
Lemonade.com works like a master catalogue that includes items from 250 online retailers. Lemonade users register with the website and create their kiosks by browsing product categories or searching among the roughly two million items on the site.
After a user clicks and drags items into a “lemonade stand”, the stand quickly displays a slide show of those goods, along with product headings and item descriptions. From there, users can type in the web addresses of their profile pages on MySpace or Facebook, and their lemonade stands appear on those pages within minutes.
The online retailers pay commissions of 5–15% of the sale price of the product. Lemonade.com keeps 20% of that commission and gives the rest to the user.
Digital music downloads were worth more than CD single sales in the first half of 2007, the first time this has happened in Australia’s history, according to the Australian Financial Review.
The value of song downloads increased 63.7% to $8.4 million in the first half of 2007, while sales of CD singles sank 46.8% to just $3.6 million.
Overall, however, physical music sales – incorporating albums, DVDs, and cassettes – still totals $167.8 million, well above the total $18.1 million of digital downloads.