In the last week of 2010, the online marketing community was buzzing about trends and developments that may shape internet advertising for 2011. From reports indicating the rise of content […]

In the last week of 2010, the online marketing community was buzzing about trends and developments that may shape internet advertising for 2011. From reports indicating the rise of content marketing to rumors that mobile marketers could soon reach Verizon customers via the iPhone, here's Brafton's take on the top internet marketing stories for the week of December 30.

A survey released from Nyppex generated much buzz, revealing that Facebook's value has climbed 56 percent since June to $41.2 billion. As Brafton reported, this makes the social site's net worth greater than that of Yahoo.

Facebook is clearly going to be a marketing priority in 2011. In addition to gaining monetary value, the company dominated four of the top 10 search terms for 2010, according to data from Hitwise. Facebook-related queries represented 4.18 percent of the leading 50 search phrases. This fits with other news of the week from eMarketer, suggesting that social marketing budgets will spike next year.

Still, Facebook is not the only social network on marketers' minds. Groupon made waves this week as it similarly showed strong gains in Nypexx's study. The company proved one of the fastest-growing online enterprises, quadrupling its value since June for a total of $4.8 billion. The company is also hoping to gain as much as $950 million in venture capital funding to fuel further growth.

As Brafton reported, these figures lead some analysts to believe the deal-finder could be worth as much as $7 billion, validating its decision to turn down Google's $6 billion offer earlier in the month. The company may serve as a solid stand-alone marketing channel for businesses hoping to boost brand awareness in 2011.

In fact, it seems social marketing will be key to building brands next year. Several reports from this week reveal that social recommendations heavily influence consumers' purchase decisions. As Brafton reported earlier today, teens and their parents seem to be impacted by social reccs. Plus, the results of the Gen Y Affluents Media Survey from think tank L2 reveal that millennials look to engage brands through social media.

The L2 report indicates that social content is key to holding young, wealthy consumers' interest, and this was one of many stories from the week that foreshadows the rise of content marketing in 2011. As Brafton reported, website and content marketing are proving to be the gifts that keep giving. Site content reportedly impacted holiday consumers' shopping behavior, and the E-Retail Satisfaction Index suggests it also influences future purchase behavior and brand loyalty.

Quality content marketing might not only help foster brand advocacy, but it could also bring in money for a company in its own right. A Pew study released this week, covered by Brafton, reveals that 65 percent of internet users have paid for content online, preferring subscription-based articles over one-time downloads. With this in mind, brands might consider offering industry-relevant custom news content next year to give web visitors and newsletter subscribers fresh, relevant content that is in high demand. As Brafton reported, the Gen Y report from L2 revealed that 79 percent of millennials get their news online.

Businesses that offered effective content marketing in time for the 2010 holiday season likely saw the payoff, as the Wall Street Journal reported this week that holiday spending was up 15.4 percent. Mobile marketing may have helped drive overall increases in sales, as Internet Retailer reports that eBay's mobile sales spiked 134 percent over the holidays. Plus, Brafton had reported that three in 10 people with smartphones use their mobile devices while they shop.

Marketers planning mobile campaigns for 2011 may find they can reach Verizon users via the iPhone. Apple generated online buzz earlier this week when it ramped up iPhone shipments for the first quarter of the year from 19 million to an estimated 21 million units. Many speculate that a partnership with Verizon will soon be announced.

In addition to iPhones' extended reach, mobile marketers were interested in the Mobile Marketing Association's top predicted trends for 2011, released this week. As Brafton reported, the company thinks m-commerce will rise, and its expectations for the market suggest mobile content will be key to reaching on-the-go consumers.

Speaking of smartphones, Google made the news this week when it (literally) called on local businesses to become advertising partners. Brafton covered the story, explaining that this is the latest in Google's efforts to enter the local market, following an earlier report that local advertising is the company's No. 1 priority.

Looking ahead to next week, we might expect more headlines about Google's moves into the local foray, as well as updates about whether or not Apple and Verizon will announce a deal. Additionally, marketers should be on the lookout for reports that offer best practice tips for internet marketing in 2011. Stay tuned.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.