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The recent offers made by the big four (Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL) to collaborate and merge, have sent shivers through the online marketing world. There are many questions about advertising revenues, monopoly’s and conflicting interests. One question stands out above the rest: What does this mean to search?

We have become so dependant on the internet to drive business, CPC has become the pulse of business. The days of being #1 have gone by the way side, and now a smarter, cheaper advertiser demands ROI and accountability. Tools and services we have grown accustom to, are absorbed by larger agencies and ISP providers, before we have a chance to say good-bye. Industry pioneers and elder statesmen are jumping off the bosom of big business and are driving the development of the industries futures, via start ups and spin-off. I read a recent post by Dave Morgan (formerly of AOL), he outlines many of the areas he feels will hold internet marketing’s next innovations. One in particular stands out, and that the vision of the “incumbents”. The observation that the big names are spending more time and money on competition and less resources on the “end user”, could be an early symptom of a lull in search.

Almost all stats and predictions speak of outrageous online ad spends, and continuous growth. But, aren’t we about to visit a “micro-cession”. Historically marketing has been the first expense adjusted during financial crisis. So, how do we quantify these expectation?

Some argue there just isn’t anywhere else to go from here. Or is there?

I like many others in the industry, are optimistic. I also have great vision of the future markets that will surface during this time of growth and change (as well as mergers). “Those who spend time trying to perfect the present, will find themselves ignorant of the future” (I think I just made that up). Have faith that internet marketing is in it’s infancy but make sure to prepare for the adolescents right around the corner.