The Year in Preview

I am certain that 2006 will behave in a traditional manner, and be unlike any year before it. We have had growth and consolidation, and a great many surprises along the way, and there is no reason to expect that 2006 will be any different.

In the year to come, many patents that were filed 2 years ago will suddenly be granted, so 2006 will see a lot of legal action. Firms that filed and developed products with patents pending will suddenly find earlier filings for the same technology exists and essentially puts them out of business. Eventually the dust will settle, and new products will survive to make all of our lives better.

Search engines at a national level, like Google, Yahoo, and MSN, will find themselves in the same situation as mainframe computers of years ago. Local search, like personal computers, will come from nowhere and displace the market share these larger giants once enjoyed. I believe that 2006 will see so much activity in local search that new contenders, and some established like True Local, will become contenders for number of pages and daily search volume leadership. Offer the searcher what they want and you have their attention. The fact that local search exists at all will drive a whole new generation of web user to the internet, marking a renewed gold rush feeling to the ever expanding web.

The paid search advertising area will become very demographically targeted. This will cause ads to be seen only by the target audience, resulting in higher bid points. It will also make it harder to commit click fraud, currently estimated at 20% of all clicks. This also will result in higher click prices (since the return on investment will be much better without fraud). This will be met with widespread approval as profits increase regardless of the ad price shooting higher. It will also force sites that rely on cheap paid advertising out of some markets, leaving the true business site without affiliates. Higher cost and fewer affiliates will change a great many things.
But, wait, there is more! The amount of time it will take to manage this complex program (and nobody really thinks the 3 search engines will all use similar technologies for managing bids), along with really complex, almost too complex, ROI statistics will make it much too complex for the small business to play and do more than guess. Enter a new wave of Analytics tools, designed to provide ROI numbers tracked to any source. Without these new tools it will become difficult to properly use the power of demographic advertising, making 2006 the year of Analytics. We’ve already seen this trend beginning with Google Analytics and it can only grow.
But not everybody can afford the time to manage bids, even with Analytics tools. They will simply be forced out of the paid advertising market, or forced to turn to PPC Management services. For those forced out of the paid advertising arena, most will turn to Search Engine Optimization, traditionally thought of as the free search results part of the web page. Of course, as the number of pages increases due to an influx of Local Search sites, and as normal web growth continues, and as SEO becomes commonly practiced, it becomes harder and harder for a business to be in the top-10 results out of millions. 2006 is a bad year for new web sites since they have a high cost of entry into search engines ads or organic results.
Hence we will see a resurrection of other online ad methods, in particular expect to see more banner and text ads. These ads will need to be better than ever, more animated, more eye catching, and more targeted. The banners will be carefully tracked (Analytics again, but not as complex) against ROI but new sites can make a living by embracing this medium.
Which brings us to email. I predict that a safe, simple, certified email system will be released in 2006 that will allow users to "join" opt-in lists that the advertiser never gets. This system will allow advertisers to create email campaigns that can span months, not a single burst. And the advertiser never gets the recipients’ information – the email system operates as a middle man keeping the users’ information totally private. This system will manage user mailboxes so that traditional certified email is readily seen and accessed. It will support community, charities, and be free to consumers. Advertising rates will be a fraction of today’s search engine paid advertising rates, making this effective and affordable for small businesses. Once the system is in widespread use, spam will be easily ignored, real mail will be easily found, and email will emerge as a trusted and viable advertising medium. 1st Certified is the big news of 2006.
So what does this mean to Bruce Clay, Inc.? We are expanding, and doing it in a big way. We are already a clear industry leader for SEO, one of the few offering proprietary tools, SEO training and certification, and tailored services for large and small clients. Our PPC team understands the subtle operational and business issues of managing client paid advertising programs. We have a reseller agreement in partnership with IBM, allowing us to provide exceptionally advanced Analytics reports at a fraction of the cost of the industry leaders. And we are the marketing arm and a major investor in 1st Certified, the email system that will take the world by storm. We are also building a new team to manage advanced banner ad programs, having already staffed in-house technology teams and simply waiting a while before we recruit industry leaders.
There is a lot more in the works, this is just about half of it.
If you work for a competitor, resumes are being accepted. If you work for a client, you win. All others, watch out.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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