Is online marketing dead?

Jun 4, 2019

With the US Government looking into Google, Facebook and Amazon, the key online marketing platforms, is online marketing dead?


This morning I woke up to the news that a billion dollars has been wiped off market capitalizations as tech giants, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are coming under the scrutiny of the US Department of Justice, and Federal Trade Commission.


The DOJ is looking into Google and Apple, while the FTC is looking into Facebook and Amazon.  They have remained silent as to what they are looking into, but online speculation is, as always, rife.


As a marketer who markets on Google, Facebook, and Amazon, this intrigued me.  


Is online marketing dead?


According to pundits:


  • Google, who owns Youtube, is the biggest online advertising platform in the world, might be questioned if it is using its size and ubiquitous search to squeeze out smaller competitors.


  • Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, might be looked into for getting product marketers to pay for advertising on their websites, and then competing directly against them by marketing similar products.


  • Facebook, who owns Instagram and Whatsapp, is the biggest social media platform in the world.  It is less clear what they are being investigated on this time, as they are already being questioned on their privacy, and personal data management practices. 


While the news did startle me this morning, this does not surprise me. 


Natural cycle of innovation


20 years as a corporate lawyer prior to becoming an online marketer has taught me that there is a cycle to innovation, profits and regulation.


When innovation occurs, the innovators are able to make supernatural profits.  This occurs because competition has yet to catch up.  If the innovator becomes dominant in the market, and works to prevent competition from catching up, anti-trust laws act to prevent that.


Also, true innovation occurs in a space where there is little or no regulation.  This isn’t surprising, as social networks, online video on demand etc, are recent innovations, and there will not be laws that will have regulated them.


This soon changes as law makers who are typically elected, naturally reflect the social the social concerns of their constituents when enacting new laws.


If the innovators are successful, not only are they making supernatural profits, they are pervasive.  And if they are pervasive, then it is natural that they are in the public’s face, and therefore in their scrutiny.


What this means for online marketers


In my view, as a small business owner using these platforms, this isn’t a bad thing.


If Google or Facebook had more competition, that means more variety of platforms to market on, and therefore lower marketing cost, increasing ROI.


In Amazon’s case, one of the major complaints of small businesses owners was that while the advertise and sell their products on Amazon, Amazon competes with them.


As a user of all these platforms, I’ve managed to run a thriving online business even without these regulations – imagine the difference having these regulations would make!


So, in my view, online marketing isn’t dead.  And if you’d like to start an online business on one of these platforms, there’s no better time than now.




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