The world economy has been in state of disarray. As companies fail we can take some small comfort in the fact that these types of events help markets evolve. So what is going to happen to marketing on the internet over the next few years?

Before we dive into that it is worth looking back to other major technological booms and their influence on the marketplace. Electricity and rail were both boom industries when they first hit. They were new and exciting and everybody wanted to get in on the action. In both of these industries there was an initial burst of investment and some people got very rich very quickly. Then the bubble burst and many of the companies that had set up to take advantage of these new technologies, yet had unsustainable models, failed. Standardisation, centralisation and ubiquity followed.

The dot com crash, starting in the year 2000, had much the same effect on internet based business. This has caused the IT industry to mature over the last few years. The economic models are better and there has been a lot of effort devoted to standardisation.

The real difference between the internet based industry and other technological bubbles is that the internet is decentralised by definition. In the case of the dot com crash, the rest of the world’s economy was incredibly buoyant and was able to absorb the impact of that crash. What we are seeing now is that the stage of internet ubiquity is moving incredibly fast. It is most other industries that are failing now: banking, automotive, retail and traditional media, comprised of print, television and radio, are all suffering. These industries are going to have to evolve to survive. It is widely understood that the way the market was interacting with each of these categories was changing, due in large part to the way the market was using the internet. The current environment is only going to speed that process up. In many ways, banking, media, retail, automotive and many other industries were already in trouble. This recession was simply the straw that broke the camels back.

One thing that we do know is that we can’t tell what the world economy is going to look like at the end of this economic slump but it is going to be very, very different to what it looks like now; and the internet is going to be at the centre of everything. Going back to the topic of this article, how is this going to affect internet based marketing? Simple answer: massively.

Over the next few years far more transactions are going to be moving online. With the internet’s potential for marketing campaigns to go viral, most industries will have to start thinking about sales beyond their own geographic boarders. As a user’s activity can be tracked with far greater accuracy than most conventional media so the definition of what marketing is, and the whole advertising industry in general, will have to change as well.

There are still a lot of unknown factors about the future of internet marketing. What we do know is that all research suggests that the internet seems to following the famous Moore’s Law. By all estimates it will double in size about every five years. At this rate the web will surpass all other media in the very near future.

The future is unmapped, and to many the unknown is terrifying. To others it is the most exciting time to be alive.

Mark Cameron
BY Mark Cameron ON 17 September 2009
Mark Cameron is CEO of customer experience innovation agency Working Three and a world renowned digital strategy commentator with well over 400 published articles.

Specialties: Digital innovation, Digital customer experience strategy, Social media strategy, Digital strategy, Online Marketing strategy.
He blogs at and tweets from @MarkRCameron.