The Future of Internet Marketing Unveiled

Dennis Faas's picture

If you want a quick peek into the future of Internet marketing, go to an Ad:Tech show. I went to the 'Ad:Tech Spring' held in San Francisco last week and the future of the Internet appears very bright.

First, let me explain Ad:Tech. For 10 years, Ad:Tech has been the place to go for brand advertisers, agencies, online publishers, and, well, nerds, if they wanted to find out about who's doing what in the digital marketing arena.

This year approximately 10,000 Internet marketers (or would-be Internet marketers) congregated at SFO's Moscone Center to hear papers like "Marketing with Downloadable Media", "Exploring Advertising Effectiveness in the Gaming Ecosystem", and "Beyond the Banner." The show also featured more than 400 digital marketing exhibiting vendors.

2008 has been a bit different than previous years in that the old appears to have caught up with the new. In previous years, Ad:Tech was made up mostly of very young gear-heads that had discovered how to make money on the Internet via email marketing, affiliate networks, and offer networks. This year, the show featured many traditional direct response marketers who have finally made their way into the digital world. This would include players like Melissa Data (large mailing list providers and processors in the snail mail world) and Publisher's Clearing House, now modernized to "pch". For those old enough to remember, Publisher's Clearing House was the company that ran the name grabbing campaigns featuring Ed McMahon from the Tonight Show and a sweepstakes offer of $1 million. Every household in America received their offers.

This year, there was still the usual assortment of ad serving technologies, payment taking technologies, affiliate partners and ad networks to scout. But there were also new exhibitors, many focused on three things: mobile phone advertising, video advertising, and behavioral or ethnic targeting. Everyone there, of course, was promising to get you more clicks, better monetization (cashing in on your list), or more names.

There were also quite a few vendors there that seemed to have solutions for problems that frankly, I couldn't quite appreciate. Consider Dapper; it's described as a 'web-based platform with generating MashUpAds: dynamic ads that change when your site changes.' The chief advantage, apparently, is that the ads it creates don't look like ads. A bit sketchy, if you ask me.

But all in all, the whole thing is a bit scary. The Internet was supposed to be this vast platform for a web of collaboration, cooperation, and connection. But last week, it looked like the World Wide Web is turning into the World Wide Mall.

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