Three Digital-Biz Models That Could Rock Your World

Steve Rubel on Digital Communications

By Published on .

One of my colleagues posed a thought-provoking question during a recent exchange: "What new digital-business models might take hold in the next four to five years?"

This should be on the mind of every marketing and media executive. Big ideas can come out of nowhere and reinvent advertising overnight -- even in a recessionary climate.

Here are three models that might evolve during the next few years.


Brands are increasingly launching their own content platforms. Some, such as Budweiser's Bud.TV, go it alone. Others partner with online media properties. P&G, for example, embedded Capessa inside Yahoo Health.

Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.
In the future, some of the more successful marketer-sponsored content sites will accept advertising. The retail space is especially ripe here. Barnes & Noble's media site in theory could partially support itself by allowing publishers, with whom it already co-markets, to buy ads.


Content is a commodity. The barriers to entry are obliterated. Still, this means we all need to make choices -- human attention doesn't scale. So how do you get consumers to choose your stuff? Simple. Use incentives.

Marketers will partner with consumer-electronics companies to co-brand white-label gadgets. Device manufacturers that are looking to enter markets with entrenched players will be the first to try this approach.


Digital-advertising creative and planning, like any marketing discipline, follows an arc. It's planned, placed, measured and eventually evaluated, tweaked or tossed. However, in the digital world, brands need to be more nimble.

With the help of new technology, marketers will rely on "just-in-time" campaigns that adapt to conditions. Basically, this takes the Dell manufacturing model and applies it to advertising. Ad creative will morph based on certain triggers, including sales data, blog chatter and consumer feedback, weather and external conditions, and more.
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