ComScore's Web Predictions For '08

By Zachary A. Goldfarb

Magid M. Abraham (Photo courtesy of comScore)

Recently, I talked to Magid M. Abraham, the chief executive of comScore, the Reston company that tracks Web traffic. As such, Abraham has a first look at what trends are playing out online. He shared a list of predictions for 2008:

* "2008 will be the year where behavioral targeting takes hold."

Abraham said Web companies have been aggressively trying to deploy techniques that serve up ads based on the sites one visits. Last year, AOL bought Tacoda, a leading targeting company, while Microsoft and Yahoo are also building out the technology. Google hopes to achieve it through its acquisition of DoubleClick.

* "Mobile Internet usage will come of age."

It's all about the iPhone - and the coming barrage of Web-savvy mobile devices. These devices make surfing the Web on your phone pretty much the same experience as surfing on your PC. Abraham sees growth opportunity abroad, where PC ownership is a lot less. Here's a pretty interesting video of Google's new mobile platform, Android, in action.

* "The industry will solve a challenge of advertising with video."

It hasn't been pretty so far. People get ticked off quickly when a 15- or 30-second ad plays before they watch a two-minute clip on YouTube. YouTube, among others, is now testing video or text ads that surround the main video, rather than interrupt it.

* "There are two major markets where Google is not No. 1. China and Japan. I think that Google will make enough progress that they will be the strong second if not the leader in both countries."

That will answer a question about whether Google can continue its strong growth in coming years, Abraham said.

* "There will continue to be a consolidation of the major advertising platforms."

AOL has bought four ad companies in the past year and is moving to New York to be at the center of the advertising world. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are all looking to expand their advertising capabilities with partnerships with companies such as MySpace and Facebook.

* "The U.S. will make up less than 20 percent of worldwide Internet users."

Abraham expects China to soon overcome the U.S. as the top source of Internet users. Check out current stats.

* "E-commerce will continue to grow 20 percent a year and we will start seeing single days where online sales will exceed a billion dollars."

* "The controversy raging this year about measurement metrics will die down."

This is definitely in comScore's self interest - after controversy last year emerged regarding whether the company and its competitors undercount visits to Web sites, as many media companies claim. Go here for background.

* "Cloud computing will get more and more established in small- and medium-sized business."

The "cloud," as it's known, is increasingly considered the future of the Web. That's where information and programs don't live on your hard drive at home--but online in a huge cluster of computers in a data center somewhere. Google offers online applications to do that, as do startups such as Zoho. And, compared to the hundreds of dollars that Microsoft Office and other programs can cost, they are cheap. As in free.

By Zachary Goldfarb  |  January 30, 2008; 1:00 PM ET  | Category:  ComScore
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