Razorfish’s Digital Outlook Report ’09 (Repetitive, But Useful)

MARCH 11, 2009

Everyone is talking about Razorfish’s Digital Outlook Report for 2009. It is indeed quite extensive and promises a bright future for those who embrace social media across all MARCOM disciplines.

This is a white paper in the truest sense of the word. By that I mean, it runs a full 175 pages. I’ll admit, I’ve only made it through about a third of the document. (We do have our own work to do, fellas! A little brevity would have been nice here!) That said, it is a pretty cool read – even though it often gets really repetitive, as if it were written by a college student trying to meet a required word count.

Below are just a few of the highlights I’ve pulled together so far. I will try to put out a part two later in the week when I’ve had the time to read the rest.

1. Advertisers Will Turn to Measurability and Differentiation. While the search landscape will evolve and innovate, search marketers will finally see economy-driven budget cuts and more demand for measurement in local and mobile search.

2. Social Influence Marketing Will go Mainstream. With Forrester reporting 75% of the online population now engaging in social behaviors, marketers will depend on their customers – more than ever – to do their marketing for them.

3. Online Networks Will Contract; Open Ad Exchanges Will Expand. The traditional ad network will continue to compete for declining ad dollars, while branded online networks will expand, take control of their content and monetize it themselves.

4. Mobile Will Get Smarter. 09 will be the “break-out year” for mobile with growth in mobile-rich media ads, mobile search and location-based opportunities.

5. Research and Measurement Will Enter the Digital Age. Research will reinvent itself as media consumption changes.

6. Social Media Usage Results in More Influence. Citing examples like the Motrin Moms Debacle, Razorfish predicts the consumer will wield greater influence through social media channels. Ummmm… didn’t they already say that in No. 2?

7. Top-Down Branding Will Experience Impotence. Consumers will define brands by the sheer volume of their opinions.

8. Social Advertising Will Grow Up. This is a rather dubious claim in my view as the report clearly states they don’t know how yet and they haven’t found any that really work yet and they don’t know if it will be figured out over the course of the year. But, hey, it makes for a great headline, so they said it and I’m repeating it.

9. New Innovations in NewsFeeds and Activity Streams. Basically, just what it says. What’s interesting is that Razorfish says there will be advertising innovations in how the information garnered from these feeds is used to target consumers.

10. Not Just Friends, But Friendsters Will Start To Matter. No, they don’t mean the original Friendster. They just mean that the people we know only through Facebook – the people who aren’t “true friends” will gain the same importance in terms of sharing new ideas and opinions. Sounds a bit like No. 6 to me, but hey, they had 175 pages to fill, right?

11. Social Influence Measurement Will Be More Important Than Social Measurement. Makes sense. It stands to reason if Social Influence is going to play a larger role, then measuring that influence will too.

12. Marketers Will Organize Around Social Influence Measurement. Marketers will put budgets behind SIM? This is one where I feel like they’ve already made the point a few times, but I do agree – just like I did when I read #2 and #11.

13. Intranets Will Join the Web. This is one I whole-heartedly agree with and have seen in my own client work. Companies are now seeing that the same knowledge-sharing and collaboration tools their employees are using through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter can improve efficiencies when brought into a corporate intranet. This is especially true for multi-nationals and brands with extended sales teams.

14. Your CEO Will Join Facebook. Razorfish says: “We believe it’s finally going to happen this year. Your CEO will succumb to pressure and join Facebook or at least LinkedIn. If he’s smart, he’ll join Twitter too.” I do think they’re right in that we will see more company leaders embrace social media channels this year- especially now that the mainstream media has gone Twitter crazy these past few weeks.

Okay, that gets us to page 30. Only 145 more pages to go! Check out the pdf if you can’t wait for part two of my summary later this week. Overall, I’d say it’s good news for anyone involved in social media marketing, advertising or optimization and for brands who want to leverage the power of their own consumer’s experience.

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