E-Government and ROI

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hispeed.jpgADOTAS — And in our last in a series of predictions for 2009,  John Mahler, of Greater Than One,  gazes into the future:

“(This) will be a year of continued fragmentation in the digital space. Technologies will provide consumers with increased control over the content they receive and force marketers to work harder and smarter to engage consumers with relevant messages where, when and how they wish to receive them.

The ascent of the digerati-empowered Obama administration would suggest a period of rocketing investment in the digital investment led by the government. But, the impact of the worst economy since the Great Depression will have a major balancing effect, curbing experimentation in deference to the known in order to make it through these times.

Indeed, between the election and the economic meltdown, fall 2008 was a kind of fracture point – setting in motion a dynamic “push me, pull you” tension for 2009 with digital right at the middle. We’ll examine these two events, and how they will effect the digital space moving forward.

The Election

Like Kennedy before him, President-elect Barack Obama understands the power of technology. The Obama campaign leveraged text messaging, web based fund raising and online organization in an unprecedented way that was a decisive factor in his victory. By appointing a CTO, President-elect Obama created a role that has never before existed in the White House administration. The CTO will be in charge of updating and maintaining the “E-Government” by exploring emerging technologies, upgrading technological infrastructure, improving federal agency communication, and finding overarching solutions to federal or general technological obstacles.

So what does this mean for 2009? It means federal money is going to be heavily invested into digital infrastructure projects. Call it the New Digital Deal. Digital jobs will be created by this overhaul, from job postings in advertising to content management.

In additional to new positions, there are new regulations on the horizon. Case in point, President-elect Obama has mentioned regulating direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharma advertisements, as well as requiring pharma companies to report advertising expenses to the SEC. At this time, it is unlikely that pharmaceutical advertisers will be adversely affected by this new administration. Even if these regulations change the nature of DTC marketing, it will likely favor digital marketing investment, given the opt-in nature of the channel and recognizing that audiences are already in an information seeking mindset. But, they are regulations to be aware of, nonetheless.

The Recession

At the same time, the recession will have wide-ranging impact on the digital space. Companies will focus on projects with greater ROI potential. Profitability, now more important than ever, will need to be proven quantitatively and digital analytics experts will be increasingly sought after to help companies measure and understand where money should be allotted.

However, we’re unlikely to see the kind of costly experimentation that can lead to breakthrough innovations and entirely new technologies. The answer to this innovation question may be found, surprisingly, in Wall Street. Jobs will be scarce in the financial sector, driving a lot of former financial advisers to tangential careers in engineering and technology sectors, spurring investment and excitement in these areas.

In an effort to do more with less, new forms of digital advertising will encourage consumer participation and deliver direct communication through virals, CPC ads, or streaming content. As a result, there will be more interaction between businesses, clients, and consumers to redefine what marketing is. The brand emphasis will shift from “parent” (“You must buy this, you must go here…”) to “friend” (“Check this out, you might like this…”), creating a greater emphasis on user generated content and company voice.

The attention to the bottom line will push companies to explore more closely numerous existing underutilized technologies in order to more effectively reach their consumers, though the channel though.

Overall, these two overarching trends will play a major roll in 2009. Their influence will trickle down into more specific areas of digital marketing, from social networking to mobile marketing. How these specific areas will take shape is best saved for a future article… and another look into an even more fractured crystal ball.”

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