2010’s Top 10 Online Marketing Highlights [Data Included]

Market Research Insights

2010 held some important turning points for online marketing.  It was a year of new portable devices, new technologies and expanded communications channels. It showed that as users we’re using various new technologies to connect with family and friends and to make our lives easier.

Here are the top 10 online marketing tipping points:

  1. Who’s the 900 pound gorilla now? Facebook passes Google across several attributes. In July 2010, Facebook overtook Google in total minutes on site, according to comScore. Facebook was the top-visited website for the first time and accounted for 8.93% of all U.S. visits between January and November 2010 followed by Google.com with 7.19% of visits based on Experian Hitwise research. Additionally, the term “Facebook” was the top-searched term overall for the second year, accounting for 2.11% of all U.S. searches. Of more interest to marketers is the fact that in 2010 social media use increased across all age segments based on the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.
  2. How do we spend our time online? Can you say social media? U.S. Internet users spend roughly one out four minutes online on social networking sites and blogs, an increase of 43% based on The Nielsen Company’s research. Games were Americans second biggest online activity accounting for 10% of their time online.
  3. R.I.P. Email: Not so fast. Email still matters, even in a social media world. Despite expanding communications platforms, email remains a mainstay, partially due to business’s adoption of this channel for communications and marketing. Exact Target’s research confirmed that over half of respondents only engaged with firms via email, not social media. Email is an online activity that’s universally popular across all age groups according to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. On mobile devices (Thank you Blackberry!), email still reigns.
  4. Can you hear me now? Smartphone use reaches critical mass. Smartphone sales will outpace desktop computer sales by 2012 according Gartner Research projections. Further, Google CEO Eric Schmidt pointed out, “Mobile Web adoption is growing eight times faster than the first wave of PC Internet adoption.” Consistent with this trend, Pew Center Research found that non-voice data applications on mobile phones have expanded significantly in the past year.
  5. See Spot read: E-readers break through. With the introduction of the iPad and the growth of e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, new ways to read and consume content electronically caught on. Apple’s iPad has sold 8.5 million units based on eMarketer’s estimates. Amazon’s 2010 Kindle e-reader sales are estimated to be $8 million. The Kindle out sold Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, Amazon’s previous record holder. Of course, the Kindle has a higher price point and was plastered on Amazon’s home page.
  6. You’ve come a long way baby: Internet advertising spending exceeds newspaper advertising spending for the first time! While tight marketing budgets may be a contributing factor, the bottom line is that advertising dollars are following audiences online. [To take advantage of online advertising’s tipping point, here are five recommendations.]
  7. Where you buy changes: Online etailing continues to grow. 2010’s holiday shopping season showed the power of online shopping and the continued channel shift. Forrester Research predicted that 2010 online holiday sales would grow 16% while National Retail Federation forecasted 2.3% overall rise in holiday retail sales as reported by Barrons. Further, 37% of consumers expected to shop online, up from 30% last year. What was the holiday surprise? Social media only influenced 5% of holiday shoppers.
  8. Got Klout? Social media influence is more than just a numbers game. Based on HP research, the number of followers you have combined with your Influence/Passivity ratio or the number of influencers to passive users who follow you, is the best indicator of influence. Since this research appeared, a number of different metrics have emerged to assess one’s social media reach. Of course, they may still need some work since only Justin Bieber has a perfect Klout score, sorry Mr. President!
  9. Online, age doesn’t matter. When it comes to major Internet activities, the age divides continue to fade. Users across age groups exchange email, use search engines, seek health information, gather news, purchase products, make travel arrangements, bank online, seek religious information, rate products, services and/or people, donate to charities and/or download podcasts according to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life’s Generations Online 2010.
  10. How twentieth century: One in five Americans isn’t connected to the Internet. Based on Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life’s finding, it’s unlikely they’ll be trying it anytime soon. Two-thirds of this segment doesn’t find online content relevant to their lives. Further, they’re not interested in going online nor are they comfortable using computers or the Internet.


From a marketing perspective, 2010 was a tipping point for a variety of online activities. To ensure that your message reaches and connects with your target audience, it’s critical to understand where they’re most active and to engage with them in a way that works in that channel. These top ten highlights had a significant impact on marketing during the past year and will create a dynamic landscape for 2011 and beyond.

Are there any other important changes that occurred in 2010 that you’d add to this list? If so, please include them in the comment section below.

Best wishes for 2011. May it be a happy, healthy and safe one for you, your family, friends and social media connections.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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