Despite a downright scary economy, and the idea of 2008-2009 harboring the worst financial crisis of our time; there are still plenty of reassuring signs that show that 2009 will be a healthy year for Internet Businesses. As a business development representative at one of the fastest growing web development firms in the Northeast, I have not seen any type of slowdown of new online projects in the last months of 2008. In addition, when we speak to other web development firms they also tell us that they are working at maximum capacity despite the economy. In 2008 I have spoken to hundreds of potential clients regarding their projects, and out of all those people I have only had one (literally one!) person tell me that they were going to wait to see what happens with the economy before moving forward with their new website. This is one of the most reassuring signs I have seen first hand that the "online economy" is still strong. Online ad revenue was up significantly in 2008, compared to 2007 with ad revenue actually being up 12% in the first nine months of the year. Online ad revenue was $17.3 billion from January to September in 2008, which can be compared with $15.2 billion in the first 9 months of 2007. This too is a reassuring sign that things are not all doom and gloom in the online world, and actually shows more of a BOOM in Internet Revenue considering the economic environment. If you also take into account all other forms of ad revenue have been sharply down in 2008, it appears that many advertisers and businesses are looking, and will continue to the Internet as a place to expand, increase ROI, and even cut costs in 2009. It appears that you could even make the assumption that many companies will be taking their budgets out of other forms of advertising (print, radio, TV) and placing that money directly into online ads and improving their websites. We continue to see more and more innovative and expensive online ads within the media companies' websites, as they try to supplement their falling ad sales on their TV networks and radio stations. This will result in the record low prices for traditional media's advertising rates. Of course there are thousands of factors that play a part in this scenario such as traditional media making sweetheart deals, online video, online viewership, membership sites, viral media, torrents and much more, but we can expect online ad rates and online ad revenue to continue to grow for the next few years as TV ad revenue and costs decline. Eventually TV, radio and print rates will get to the point where they level off, as Internet ads become too expensive, but in 2009 I think we are at least a few years away from that.
You can believe that 2009 is going to look much like 2008, but with more and more business being done online compared to 2008. I predict that 2009 will be a more active and refined year with the addition of more competition and the need for online businesses to be more EFFICIENT. Many more companies will be focusing their efforts on online ads, their websites, and online applications. These same companies may even be laying off employees, while using their website to make up for the revenue lost in their brick-and-mortar market. As more and more companies get online, and pour more money into their online projects, you can bet that competition will become fiercer. Each online company will need to really look at their strategies and make sure they are providing a seamless and streamlined product or service offering. With a more competitive environment in 2009, companies with too many snags in their websites will fall, lose money and eventually get trampled by the companies that are running at a completely different level of efficiency. Don't fret, 2009 will be a productive and profitable year for many Internet Businesses. The key to success in 2009 will be efficiency and a well thought out strategy to your business. Of course many businesses will flourish with creativity alone, but even more will use technology and strategy to bring their online businesses to a new level of profitability. Happy New Year!