A Banner Year for Digital Marketing

The economy has been harsh for much of the last year and a half. In the last quarter, we can describe it as sluggish, at best. But 2009 was a banner year for digital marketing. The Internet and e-marketing tools allow us to reach out and engage prospects and customers efficiently and at lower cost than traditional methods.

In comScore’s new report, The comScore 2009 US Digital Year in Review, we find some interesting analytics that provide insight into what’s working and how well.

• The recession put downward pressure on discretionary spending. As a result, the total US ecommerce market was down 2% at $209.6 billion. This was the first year on record with negative growth rates. The 2009 holiday season showed some growth, hopefully a good sign for things to come.

• The search market grew 16% overall. There was a 6% gain in unique searchers and a 10% gain in searchers per searcher. Google continues to hold a strong lead with 65.7% share, up 2.2% from 2008. The introduction of Bing helped Microsoft move up from 8.3% to 10.7% market share, but it’s a small blip and even that may not be sustainable.

• Social networking was big in 2009. Twitter saw massive growth, especially in the first quarter; they ended the year with about 20 million visitors to their site. Facebook also saw massive growth and is now the #1 social networking site. They had 112 million visitors in December 2009. Both sites are popular with the 25-49 year old crowd. MySpace is struggling to redefine itself as a music site for the 24 and under crowd.

• Online display advertising grew in 2009, with an 8% increase in the number of people exposed to display ads online and a 12% increase in average frequency. The year saw a total of 4.3 trillion display ads run.

• Online viewing video grew in 2009. 19% more people viewed videos for longer periods of time. In December, 86% of the total US online population viewed video content. The average online viewer watched 187 videos that same month, up 95% from 2008. The duration of the average video viewed rose from 3.2 to 4.1 minutes.

• In the mobile device market, 17% are smartphones. Smartphone ownership was up from 11% to 17% and 3G devices were up from 32% to 43%. Market share at year’s end was RIM/Blackberry 41.6%, Apple 25.3%, Microsoft 17.9%, and Palm at 6.1%. Amazing how fortunes can turn as this is a market that Palm owned outright not too long ago.

One of the critical issues that STILL faces us is the ability to effectively harness the marketing intelligence inherent in the way people communicate online and make it actionable. The good news is we can track these digital channels; from there, we can analyze and make improvements to their performance.

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