Five Trends That Will Shape the Web in 2011Success on the Web often boils down to the ability to tap into trends just as they're emerging. The makers of Angry Birds wouldn't have had the hottest game of 2010 without the mainstream success of smartphones and iPads, and Groupon might not have grown as fast had the weak economy not pushed consumer demand for online discounts.

A year ago, hardly anyone was expecting either Angry Birds or Groupon to be among the rising stars of 2010. But the underlying trends that powered their success were plain enough. So while it's nearly impossible to predict with much accuracy which companies will be the hits of 2011, here are five trends that may help separate the year's winners from the losers.

1. Big Advertisers Go Social. Facebook's estimated $2 billion in revenue is a fraction of the $26 billion in online ad spending. But it's certain to grow larger as big advertisers spend more of their budgets on social networks -- a market that for the time being, at least, Facebook dominates.

The most remarkable thing about that shift is that big brands like Coca-Cola (KO) don't really understand why social network ads work, but they're plunging in anyway. It's enough to see that Coca-Cola is liked by 21.6 million people, and that click-through rates rise once a brand is liked by someone's friends. Even though there's still no surefire formula for effective Facebook advertising, deep-pocketed companies are learning to love being "liked."

2. Local Gets Aggressive. The changes 2011 will bring will affect more than just the big advertisers -- they'll create new incentives for small, independent businesses to advertise online as well. E-coupon sites like Groupon are just the first wave. The mobile Web is ideal for helping mom-and-pop shops set up features to entice loyal customers into online relationships while reaching out to potential new customers.

However, there's a catch: Local doesn't just mean small businesses. As Groupon has grown, it has started offering more deals from big companies, moving past the small businesses it built its initial success on. Local Web advertising could quickly become a platform for big national chains, and the mom-and-pop entrepreneurs could get lost in the shuffle.

3. The Introverts Speak Up. With more than 500 million members, Facebook's growth seems assured for some time. But its growth may reach saturation at some point. For every active Facebook member, there's a holdout who's concerned about privacy. For every new member who signs up, an old member stops signing in frequently because the site has lost its allure.

So social networks need to evolve to make the Web introverts -- those who choose not to be visible on social networks -- feel comfortable about signing on. If Facebook can't preserve its members' privacy in a way that appeals to these holdouts -- or if it stops adding new twists to make its site an everyday draw -- it will open up opportunities for rivals to eat into its market share.

4. Privacy Becomes a Corporate Priority. It seems like hardly a month passes without some news of regulators taking a hard look at Web privacy practices. Also growing common are class actions like the one filed against Apple (AAPL) last week, which claimed a breach of user privacy on iPhone apps.

Companies won't stop collecting data, but they will have to take convincing measures to satisfy regulators, privacy advocates and, ultimately, consumers that they aren't misusing the data they're collecting. The problem is, all that information is crucial to their business models: The more data they collect, the more money they stand to make. Finding a balance will be a complex but essential task in 2011.

5. The Web Bubble Deflates. Now that Goldman Sachs has given Facebook a $50 billion valuation -- 25 times the company's estimated 2010 revenue -- it's hard to argue the Web isn't in a bubble anymore. But this bubble seems contained to the private markets, and the disconnect with valuations in the public market is growing.

All it could take is one high-profile Web company braving the IPO process to change this. After all, it's nearly impossible to short a stock in the private markets, but it's done all the time in the public markets. An IPO -- whether for Zynga, Groupon or Facebook -- would almost certainly see a speculative surge early on. But any disappointment in the financial data would reverse the rally, sending shock waves throughout the venture capital market.

Of course, precisely when a bubble will end is one of the hardest things to predict. But though it will be somewhat painful, a correction would be a welcome event sooner rather than later. The longer it takes for the Web bubble to deflate, the more destructive the correction will be when it comes.


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goody2bo

Debt is denominated in US dollars. It is not denominated in gold. Creditors are asking for US dollars. As borrowers struggle to pay debt, there will be demand for US dollars. Not for gold.

Nothing has been fixed. Stimulus was borrowed from the future. Debt was the problem to begin with and we have more of it now. Borrowing and spending does not make a recovery. Soon interest payments on debt will be enough to kill any recovery as you know it. Deflationary crash is coming. Individuals, state, local, federal governmers will not have disposable income left to spend. This is the mother of all crashes. 2008 was just the warmup.

In the past economy seemed to be doing OK solely due to credit inflation that FED has fostered. FED made it easy to borrow. America borrowed and spent. When we borrow money, banks create new money out of thin air and give it to us. They do not lend existing money. This inflates the money supply and reduces the value of US dollar. This new money makes it easy to earn. This was the norm for decades! Here is how banks create money:

http://www.kondratieffwavecycle.com/credit-inflation/

Why does it matter? Well, all of our money supply is bank credit. It is borrowed money. It needs to be paid back as principal + interest. The interest portion is not even created yet. Borrowing MUST increase exponentially so that principal+interest amount exists in the economy so that people can earn it and pay back what they owe. What happens when borrowing stops? Deflationary crash occurs. Debt problem:

http://www.kondratieffwavecycle.com/web-of-debt/

January 06 2011 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
William

So, instead of going to chevrolet.com, you now go to, ready for it, facebook.com/chevrolet, if you're a facetard. And we thought people with GeoCities or AOL homepages in the '90s were lame.

January 06 2011 at 6:29 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
francisdeeds

So there is no hope for small companies and anyone wanting to start their own business or own a home. I guess the market is all set for corporations to keep plugging away and people to keep sacrificing money to these behemoths. Save your money and take advantage of free samples and coupons at Save Creatively . c o m

January 05 2011 at 5:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
amancalledbubba

I dont want to be the one to..um..burst your bubble..but..Facebook is ALREADY irrevelant!All Facebook is..aside from some seemingly interesting games like Farmville..is a platform for ordinary people to publicize the minutia of their lives..and..quite frankly..most peoples lives are BORING..even to their friends..and even the games become tedious..as opposed to fun..after a bit..and most of us arent egocentric enough to continue to believe that others are REALLY interested in how we feel..what we had for dinner,etc...Facebook MAY be good for one more year..but..I wouldnt bet on it...

January 05 2011 at 3:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mrslicky2

i think facebook suxs and its a waste of time

January 05 2011 at 2:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
allyndp

Article reads like the author has tons of facebook stock.

January 05 2011 at 10:44 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
TomFromBrooklyn

Not a very informative article. Thought I was going to learn something.

January 05 2011 at 8:36 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to TomFromBrooklyn's comment
Trust God

You did, 500 million people without a life.

January 05 2011 at 12:13 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
William

Actually, 499,999,998 people without a life and two really dead. Google "Clay Duke" and "Robert Butler Jr" or "school,facebook,shooting."

January 06 2011 at 7:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply