Since April 1995, my Web Digest For Marketers email newsletter has been
analyzing and reporting on the meaningful trends in Internet Marketing. It
was the very first marketing newsletter on the Net. Publishing this
newsletter for a decade has taught my editors and me how to spot
meaningful shifts in Internet Marketing worthy of your attention.
Below are my Top 10 Trends for the Next 10 Years in Internet Marketing. It
deserves your attention because it will help you map your future in this
dynamic Internet Marketing industry. Going forward in time from here, I
recommend you stay on top of breaking trends and shifts in Internet
Marketing by subscribing free to my Web Digest For Marketers weekly
email newsletter at http://wdfm.com
Trend #1 - Pay Per Call Rings In
Any salesperson worth his or her salt knows that a call is worth many times
more than a click. Having 1-to-1 contact with a prospect live on the phone
is so much more likely to result in a sale. Some say the likelihood is ten-
fold. So it's no wonder this nascent industry has many people watching
closely. There will be issues with "fake" phone calls that will be reminiscent
of click fraud problems today. But look for the pay-per-call industry to catch
on fire within the next 1 1/2 years, despite these concerns. I am devoting
an entire issue of Web Digest For Marketers to the subject of Pay Per Call
later this year.
Trend #2 - Feed Marketing Flourishes
You've got RSS (Real Simple Syndication). You've got Podcasting (where
you can download and time-shift audio content to your iPod or MP3
player). Now you've even got Video Podcasting where you can download
MP4 videos into Sony's PlayStation Portable unit for viewing when you're
mobile. As the use of RSS grows quickly, and more consumers buy iPods
or MP3 players, these formats will grow in usage. And where there are
ears and especially eyeballs, marketers are never too far behind. The
podcasts may employ the sponsorship model, or subscription (further off),
or simply be done for the coolness factor, customer retention, or PR pop
that you'll get if you do it early enough. RSS ad units will settle into some
format that offers a decent ROI for the advertiser. There are already
coupons being fed via RSS. Expect to see more point-to-point syndication
feed models as we move forward in time.
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Trend #3 - Email Marketing Will Survive
Spam issues will recede dramatically, because they have to. Too much is
at stake. We may resort to the payment of email postage for guaranteed
delivery, or maybe not. But the email platform is now like a fax machine.
While there are fancier applications, email is easy, cheap, effective and
Trend #4 - Personal Agents Propogate
Watch for the growth of "agent software" to help you sift through the
morass of online information. There's too much relevant stuff for mere
humans to sift through now. Agent software learns your habits by following
your moves online and on your computer as well as by asking about your
preferences. Some early forms of this exist now, but it will become much
more sophisticated. Your agent will bring you both B2B and B2C offerings,
whether the latest on-target ad deal or the best tennis racket at the best
Trend #5 - Reverb Marketing, In Stereo
eMarketer points out that many Internet users already use multiple forms
of media at once. Even as I write this I'm listening to CNBC in the
background. Smart marketers will synchronize their messaging so the end
user hears and sees complementary messages at or near the same time.
This will be the new definition of what media planners call "Road Blocking."
Since the end user's attention is split between different media, it will be
essential that messages reinforce each other. HINT: Visual gags on TV
spots or simply showing the 800 number on screen won't be as effective,
because a significant segment of people won't be watching the screen.
Even today we're starting to use TV like radio.
Trend #6 - Audio Blogs/Video Blogs (V-Blogs)
Blogs are obviously here to stay. Some of the cutting-edge blogs are
starting to offer content in audio and even in video. This will not only affect
journalism, but it will impact the retail business as well. Imagine a
personality-driven QVC blog on your computer screen.
Trend #7 - IPTV Adds Interactivity
Microsoft and others are currently exploring TV over Internet protocol. But
don't expect TV on the Net to look and act like the TV you see on your
television screen. After all, we already have television, so who needs the
redundancy? IPTV (or as some say TVIP) will take a different twist. While
Madison Avenue types will say, "At last, we can now feed TV commercials
over the Net!", consumers will not want to see those ads on their computer
screens. They already TIVO over on them on their TV screens, right? IPTV
will be much more interactive. In addition to an 800 number, with IPTV
you'll be able to click and buy right then and there. One form might be a
video catalog wherein you click on the product or infomercial of interest. To
really make this happen, compression schemes will need to get better in
order to prevent buffering at the consumer end.
Trend #8 - Commercial Content On Demand
Messages from marketers need to be so appealing that the audience
actually requests the message. This evolutionary process is already
underway as "push marketing" is giving way to "pull marketing". The costs
of paper, postage, TV and print production are getting too expensive and
are not performing as well as they used to. Commercial content that the
end user wants isn't far-fetched. Look at Lucky magazine or niche catalogs
such as Outdoor Adventure Sports. B2B marketers have been using high-
value ads for years. The advertisers in Web Digest For Marketers generate
sales leads by offering high-value PDF downloads on subjects of particular
interest to the target audience they're trying to reach. The how-to
workshops at Home Depot are a prime example on the B2C side. It doesn't
take a seer to see that the days of "hot air advertising" are so over.
Trend #9 - Publishing Faces Tectonic Shifts
Research is already showing that many people in their 20s are not picking
up the newspaper habit the way their parents did. Add to this demographic
shift the cost of newsprint, postage (for magazines) and handling, and it's
likely to cause tectonic shifts in the publishing industry. Many people
already read newspapers and magazines online. My bet is that special
issues will appear in print, and that many publishers will ultimately have to
figure out how to make a go of it with free content online (i.e., advertiser-
supported), perhaps by asking their readers for demographic information
that enables the publisher to sell targeted advertisements at a premium, as
you'll frequently find with trade publications. At the same time, in select
industries people will pay for online subscriptions that deliver real value.
This is already apparent (the Wall Street Journal has 700,000 paid
subscribers), but it's not for every content provider out there. For a look at
the next level, check out www.cnbcdowjones.com, where you can get just
the editorial clips of CNBC, sans commercials, for $99(US) a year. You get
250 plays per month. I subscribe, and find it to be a great time saver.
Trend #10 - Direct Marketers Will Take Over the Internet
Oops, this has already happened, but not the way I predicted 10 years
ago. There are two types of direct marketers on the Net. Those who
started out as online marketers have come across the language and
practices of DM without realizing it. They talk of response rates by way of
clickthroughs, cost per lead, cost per sale, and so on. This group would do
well to study the DM masters who have written extensively on the subject
over the past 80 years. Then there are the traditional direct marketers,
some of whom get it, and some of whom are still riveted on the shriveling
response rates of print mailings and catalogs and on ever-increasing
postage costs. The irony here is that traditional direct marketing folks are
the ones who understand human nature best. Because of their extensive
experience, they can smell what will work and what won't. It's baked into
their genes now. This group would do well to look at the Net as the
incredible opportunity it is, rather than focusing on what was. What was is
not coming back. The good news for traditional DM'ers is that the Internet
has not repealed the laws of human nature. So while the tools of DM are
changing, the underlying principles that have driven DM since the time of
Ben Franklin are still exactly the same.
Bonus Trend - Internet-Free Zones Become the Hot New Trend
The Internet will become as ubiquitous as cell phones are today. Some
enterprising travel package company will then begin offering "Internet-free
zones" - no cell phones, no Internet, no fax machines, and you won't have
to climb the Himalayas to escape the media onslaught. This won't be an
option for many people. It seems already that people desperately need to
stay connected to others, lest they connect with themselves. :) LC
Subscribe to the AAFTEC Newsletter, Focus on Fraud
2005 Fraud Trends: Consumers Being Hounded by Internet and
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today the National Consumers League (NCL)
released its annual lists of the top telemarketing and Internet scams that
plagued consumers in 2005. More consumers are reporting scams, and
victims are losing more money, according to the nonprofit organization,
which is headquartered in Washington, DC. Based on information that
consumers provided last year to NCL’s National Fraud Information
Center/Internet Fraud Watch program, the average loss to telemarketing
fraud rose from $1,974 in 2004 to $2,892 in 2005, and Internet fraud
losses more than doubled, from an average of $895 in 2004 to $1,917. The
number of scams reported rose by 39 percent for telemarketing fraud and
12 percent for Internet fraud. Read More>>>
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month: ID Thieves Preying
on Consumers with New Phishing Scam Called Pharming
Washington, DC—In observance of National Cyber Security Awareness
Month in October, the National Consumers League (NCL) and the National
Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) have partnered to warn consumers about
new computer-based scams threatening their bank accounts and other
sensitive personal information. The Washington-based advocates are
focusing their efforts on how consumers can protect themselves from the
evolving tactics that are used for online “phishing” scams. Phishing is when
ID thieves trick people into providing their social security numbers,
financial account numbers, PIN numbers, mothers’ maiden names, and
other personal information. Read More>>>
NCL Provides Consumers with Tips to Tell a Reliable Medicare Drug Plan
Since legitimate marketing for the federal program began last week,
consumers across the nation are becoming aware that, starting in January
2006, Medicare will begin to offer coverage for prescription drugs. As
prescription drug plans, consumer and health advocates, industry, and the
government begin to send information about the new drug benefit out to
the public, people in Medicare will need to know how to tell if they are
dealing with a reliable resource. Read More>>>
NCL News: Phishing Scams Rank in Top Ten Telemarketing and Internet
Scams in 2004 2.03.2005
Today the National Consumers League released its annual lists of top
frauds as reported by consumers to its National Fraud Information
Center/Internet Fraud Watch with alarming increases in the average losses
of victims reporting the scams in both telemarketing and Internet fraud.
And for the first time ever, phishing scams appeared in both top ten lists.
The Medicare Prescription Drug Discount Card: Separating the Real Deal
from the Scams 12.2004
For months now, Americans on Medicare have been able to sign up for
prescription drug discount cards, a part of the Medicare prescription drug
law that was passed this time last year. Unfortunately, only about 1.5
million low-income Americans have signed up for a card. More than three
times that many had been expected to enroll in the program by year’s end,
and more than 7 million people are eligible
Washington, DC—Identity thieves are using a new scheme dubbed
“phishing” to trick people into providing their Social Security numbers,
financial account numbers, passwords, PIN numbers, and other personal
information, and anyone with a telephone or email can be a victim, warns
the National Consumers League. This method of ID theft is now the fourth
most common Internet scam. A new Web site www.phishinginfo.org,
describes how phishing works, how people can protect themselves, and
where to go for help if they’ve been “hooked” by a phishing scam. Read
New Tips at Fraud.org
Advocacy Group Warns that More and More Consumers Falling for Fake
Check Scams 8.11.2004
Washington, DC—The National Consumers League, the nation’s oldest
consumer advocacy organization, has partnered with the American
Bankers Association (ABA) to alert the public to the growing problem of
fake check scams. Based on complaints reported to NCL’s National Fraud
Information Center/Internet Fraud Watch database since last December,
when the fake check category was added, these scams are now the
seventh most common Internet fraud. Consumers who reported fake check
scams to NCL’s fraud programs between January 1 and June 30, 2004 lost
an average of $5,000. In many cases, the contact is initiated by email.
BBB Warns that Imposters are Targeting Consumers and Businesses
The Better Business Bureau system today issued a national alert to warn
consumers and businesses about two questionable operations that are
falsely using the BBB name to trick victims. One business is perpetrating
an advance fee loan scam that targets consumers and businesses with
poor credit records. It has provided as a reference fictitious BBB phone
numbers that are answered by representatives who falsely claim to be with
the Better Business Bureau and provide a positive report on the business
in question. Read More >>>
Consumer Group Says Americans Vulnerable to, Unaware of Counterfeit
The National Consumers League (NCL) announced today its concerns
for American consumers’ vulnerability to counterfeit drugs, a growing
problem given the recent rise in government investigations, the explosion
of Internet sales of prescription drugs, and new survey results that
demonstrate consumers’ inability to identify suspect drugs.
Relay services were designed to help people with hearing or speech
difficulties use the telephone. Now there is a new way to make relay calls –
through the Internet. While Internet relay services are very convenient for
many hearing or speech-impaired people, some enterprising con artists
are also taking advantage of them to contact potential victims. Read More
First “Do Not Call” Case Announced 5.5.04
If you’ve received a call from the National Consumer Council (NCC)
offering to help you with your debts, you’re not alone. Those calls may stop
now that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued the NCC and
related corporations and individuals for allegedly violating consumers’ “do
not call” rights and deceiving them about the organization and the services
it offers. Read More >>>
First CAN-SPAM Cases Brought 4.29.04
On April 29, 2004 the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of
Justice, and Postal Inspection Service announced action against two spam
operations under the CAN-SPAM Act, which went into effect on January 1.
Identity theft continues to be the top fraud-related complaint, according to
government statistics released Tuesday by the Federal Trade
The total number of complaints rose 17%, from 542,378 in 2003 to
635,173 in 2004, according to the report, National And State Trends In
Fraud And Identity Theft.
According to the report, 39% of all complaints filed in 2004 were related to
identity theft, which is a 1% decline from 2003.
Another top fraud-related complaint was Internet auctions, which garnered
16% of the total number of complaints filed last year. Others include shop-
at-home/catalog sales (8%), Internet services and computer complaints
(6%), and foreign money offers (6%).
Credit-card fraud topped the list at 28% as the most common type of
identity theft, followed by phone and utility related fraud (19%), bank fraud
(18%), and employment fraud (13%).
The FTC says consumers reported total fraudulent losses of $547 million
last year, with the median loss at $259.
Identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints filed with the Federal
Trade Commission for the fourth year in a row, according to data released
today by the agency.
The FTC reported that Internet-related fraud accounted for 55 percent of
the consumer fraud complaints filed in 2003, up from 45 percent in 2002.
The data was released in the commission's annual list of the top 10
_ Top Fraud Complaints in 2003 _
• Identity theft
• Internet auctions
• Shop-at-home/catalog sales
• Internet services and computer complaints
• Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries
• Foreign money offers
• Advance fee loans and credit protection
• Telephone services
• Business opportunities and work-at-home plans
• Magazine buyers clubs
• Office supplies and services
Source: Federal Trade Commission
Internet fraud cost American consumers almost $200 million in 2003, with
victims losing $195 on average. The total loss to fraud was more than
$437 million, about $228 per victim.
The commission said it received 516,740 complaints in 2003, an increase
from 404,000 in 2002. There were 214,905 reported cases of identify theft,
about 42 percent of the total. This was an increase from 161,836
complaints reported in 2002.
Various kinds of fraud, from credit protection schemes to the infamous
Nigerian e-mail hoaxes, resulted in 301,835 complaints. Fifty-eight percent
of the victims said that the fraud originated in some form of contact made
through the Internet.
"The truth is that the crooks are staying at least one step ahead of the
victims online," said Jean Ann Fox, director of consumer protection for the
Consumer Federation of America.
Auctions produced the largest number of Internet-related fraud complaints,
accounting for 48 percent of the total. Despite that figure, many people
have trouble figuring out at what point they surrendered their information to
Fraud is involved in less than 1 percent of eBay's auction listings, of which
20 million are listed at any given time, said EBay spokesman Hani Durzy.
The nation's largest online auction company teaches its users how to spot
bogus or suspicious auctioneers and avoid e-mail scams that trick users
into divulging their financial information, Durzy said. EBay also offers up to
$500 in reimbursements for eBay customers victimized by fraud through
the auction giant's PayPal service.
Susan Grant, director of the National Consumer League's National Fraud
Information center and Internet Fraud Watch, said many consumers are
less suspicious of sales pitches on the Web than they are of telemarketers
peddling dubious products.
"I do think that we've done a lot of public education about telemarketing
fraud and people are generally prepared when they pick up the phone to
recognize the danger signs, but I think that that same caution and common
sense hasn't exactly taken hold yet for Internet users," Grant said.
Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said
that more people are reporting fraud and identity theft incidents, driving up
the number of cases the FTC released today.
The Washington, D.C. area led the list of U.S. locations reporting
consumer fraud, beating out the Seattle and San Diego metropolitan
areas. The Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., region produced the largest number of
identity theft cases.
The FTC's data was based on information it collected in its Consumer
Sentinel database, which receives reports from the FBI's Internet Crime
Complaint Center, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the National
Consumers League's National Fraud Information Center, Canada's
Phonebusters and the Better Business Bureau.
Today's findings reflect an increase in attention that the Bush
administration and Congress have given to online fraud and identity theft.
The FTC in a report released in September 2003 estimated that 9.9 million
Americans were victims of identity theft in 2002, costing consumers almost
$53 billion. As many as 27.3 millions were struck by identity theft in the
past five years, the commission also concluded.
As many as 7 million U.S. adults might have been identity theft victims
between June 2002 and June 2003, according to business research group
The Justice Department's "Operation E-Con" against Internet fraud netted
135 charges or convictions between January and May last year. The
operation involved more than 90 cases and 89,000 potential victims.
Congress late last year passed a bill that allows people to report identity
theft to a national hotline. It also allows consumers to get one free credit
report a year from the nation's major credit bureaus to make sure that they
have not become identity theft victims.
Related to this topic
> VeriSign signs up eBay, Yahoo to identity program
> Google leads robust U.S. Internet search growth
> Fresh U.S. outrage ahead of China Internet hearings
> Fraunhofer develops tool to curb online music piracy
> Gmail becomes a Google Talk interface
News Story by Juan Carlos Perez
FEBRUARY 17, 2005 (IDG NEWS SERVICE) - As con artists lurk in the
dark corners of online auction marketplaces scamming buyers, auction
sites are having to deal with the persistent specter of fraud, which some
believe is seriously harming buyer participation and sales in this very
popular and large e-commerce medium.
In January, a coalition of eBay Inc. sellers warned that, in their view, fraud
is eroding the integrity of that marketplace and challenged eBay to
implement concrete measures to address the issue. "The members of this
organization feel this is the No. 1 issue that is impacting their business and
their ability to grow on the eBay marketplace," said Jonathan Garriss,
executive director of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance (PESA), which
groups about 600 large eBay sellers that collectively generate over 70
million eBay transactions and $1 billion in eBay gross merchandise volume
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has also identified fraud in online
auctions as a real problem. On Feb. 1, the U.S. Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) in its "National and State Trends in Fraud & Identity
Theft" study for 2004, reported that online-auction fraud last year made up
16% of all consumer complaints, or about 100,000, second only to identity
theft with 39%. In the subset of Internet-related complaints, online auction
fraud topped the list with 48%.
Fraud in online auctions can take a variety of forms. Most commonly,
buyers may pay for an item but not receive it, or receive an item that
doesn't match the description of the one advertised by the seller. However,
some buyers also commit fraud by not paying for goods or by lying about
not receiving merchandise. "Most of the complaints are basically about
someone offering to sell something and then the consumer will send
payment and never receive the item," said Deborah Matties, a staff
attorney at the FTC.
EBay, by far the largest online auction marketplace, estimates that only
around 1 in 10,000 of its transactions are proved fraudulent, but PESA
argues that, even if fraud is rare, incidents get wide media coverage and
are likely to discourage many potential buyers from participating in online
Garriss believes the fraud problem is partly to blame for eBay's slower
growth in 2004 compared with 2003 in areas such as listings, consolidated
net revenue and gross merchandise volume. This slower growth and
eBay's missed earnings expectations in 2004's fourth quarter drove eBay's
stock price down after its fourth-quarter 2004 financial report. The day after
the report, eBay's stock closed at $83.33, from the previous day's $103.05
close. Since then it hasn't reached $90.
"We do think there is room for improvement on making the eBay auction
marketplace a safer environment for shoppers," said Garriss, CEO of
Gotham City Online, a shoes and accessories seller on eBay. Specifically,
PESA would like eBay to be more stringent in screening sellers who are
new to the marketplace and want to sell either very expensive
merchandise or sell in large volumes. PESA suggests possibly putting
restrictions on these buyers until their identity has been thoroughly
checked out and they have established a good track record in the
But placing limits on sellers who haven't acted improperly is something
eBay will not entertain, said Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman. "While we
respect the opinion of all community members, we will not engage in any
screening before any wrongdoing has occurred. All the people in [PESA] at
one point started off as brand-new sellers as well. Had seller screening
been in place where sellers would be severely limited if they hadn't sold
anything before, everybody in [PESA] would have been affected at one
point as well," he said.
Durzy said eBay has implemented many tools and information for buyers
and sellers to educate themselves about the best way to conduct
themselves during an auction. For example, all eBay buyers and sellers
are evaluated by the peers they do business with, so everyone has a
ranking and anyone can read soneone else's feedback trail. If there are
problems, eBay has a section of its Web site called Security Center where
members can lodge complaints and bring eBay in as a mediator.
Beau Brendler, director of Consumer Reports WebWatch, the online
investigative arm of Consumer Reports, says reputable online auction sites
such as eBay are trying to do a lot to prevent and combat fraud, but there
is only so much they can do within the reality of an auction environment,
where the presiding principle generally is "buyer beware." "Online auctions
are perfect venues for fraud in the same ways that off-line auctions are,"
Some common-sense practices buyers are urged to follow include:
* Pay only with a credit card or via eBay's PayPal service; avoid sending
checks, cash or money orders, or wiring money.
* If purchasing an expensive item, use an escrow service, because they
acknowledge receipt of your payment but don't release the funds to the
seller until you confirm receiving the item in good condition.
* If using an escrow service, make sure it is a reputable one.
* Check the feedback others have left about the seller, a common
feature on sites such as eBay.
* Look for listings with clear details and pictures of the item.
* If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is: walk away.
Still, there is a tipping point at which a critical mass of users can sour on
an online auction marketplace, an executive warns. This is why online
auction sites have to be as vigilant and aggressive as possible, said
Patrick Byrne, chairman and president of e-commerce provider
Overstock.com, which launched its online auction business,
Overstock.com Auctions, in September and has seen it grow steadily.
"Fraud is like a weed. Once you have too much of it in the marketplace,
then you don't know who to trust anymore. The whole thing starts getting
very shaky," Byrne said.