Could the Web be the Answer to Economic Plight?

There has been a lot of talk, and a lot more evidence, about how bad the economic situation is right now in the U.S. Unemployment is just below 7 percent and predicted to rise, and the rest of the world is even more impacted by our problems now than during the Great Depression.

The industries that helped the country out of the depression in 1930s no longer have the ability to rescue us. With the government's help and an opportune war, this country fought its way back.

But circumstances are different this time around. Another world war isn't likely, we don't have a growing population, there isn't as much scope for expansion, and the homebuilding and car markets aren't growing.

Apart from the government's ability to stimulate the economy, there's a need for industries that have the potential for continuing expansion -- places for secure long-term employment and products and services we can sell to other countries to dig out the national debt.

The Web offers such an area of expansion. Fortunately, we still have the entrepreneurial spirit and the consumer philosophy that lifted us out the past problems.

The "Big Three" automakers (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) that are floundering right now helped a great deal with massive job creation. Car manufacturing led to many auxiliary industries. Now, between 3 million and 5 million people could lose their jobs.

Computer-related industries, fueled by the Web, could create the jobs of the future. It's only been about eight years since the power of the Web came to the forefront, out of the shadows of gambling, pills, and porn. Just about everyone has an e-mail account, and more people are using the Web as their shopping centers, means of entertainment, and neighborhoods.

Could our industry's Big Three replace the old ones? Possibly, with help from Microsoft, Apple, Dell, and other subsidiary industries. However, the government needs to be a little more involved.

Industry-destroying moves, like Google's grab at analytics and others, need to be stopped. The government has no problem regulating other media ownership grabs in radio, television, and newspapers. This type of attention is needed to succeed. Many potential growth companies have already gone away.

Google isn't alone. Microsoft has had its problems in this area as well. Hopefully, the president-elect won't be as influenced by the big money companies.

The integration of the Web with mobile phones is a newly emerging growth industry. I can see it in my daughter's iPhone app purchases each month.

The popularity of the yet-to-be truly monetized social networks also has huge income potential. Online entertainment is also a growth industry with huge revenue possibilities for many.

As the Web becomes the center of the "global village," it may be time to look to it for more than the answers we get from search engines.

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About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.