Last week I wanted to buy product X, locally. I couldn’t. Every search phrase I could come up with took me to a custom site from a big company. “Widget, Miami, FL” didn’t go me Miami Florida local businesses, it gave me specially crafted, search engine optimized pages from Walmart.com, saying “Miami Widgets” on a domain that redirected to Walmart.com.
I rarely issue proclamations about the future, because I’ve noticed that my ability to predict trends is reasonable, but my ability to pick the timing of those trends sucks eggs. But let’s give it a shot:
Advertising-Supported Business Models Will Decline
The more that media companies and software companies and game companies rely on advertising as their primary revenue base, the more the supply of advertising spots will increase. Eventually, the supply will exceed the demand and, except for a few extremely high-traffic sites, ad prices will be driven down … because ads will become much less effective unless the advertiser has the time, money, and skill to do the detailed analytics needed to find the few venues where they get a positive ROI on their money.
This will drive a lot of the ad-supported businesses out of business, because they just don’t have the reach to be able to be one of the high-value ad space suppliers.
As Will All Businesses That Rely on Ads or Search for Customers
This will drive a lot of smaller businesses out of business, because those smaller businesses don’t have the resources to spend on marketing analytics, which will become necessary for finding the few advertising outlets that actually work for those small businesses. The marketing analytics will become a cost of being in the game.
In other words, the internet will drive us toward a more anemic economy where there are a few big-company winners, and those without the resources will lose.
(Essentially, the internet raises the playing field for everyone to the point where only big companies can survive.)
There will always be exceptions for specialty niches, but not for general commerce.
I hope I’m wrong, but I from what I see on the ground, it looks like a plausible scenario.