Say Goodbye To The Buzzwords Of 2009

As we get ready for the new year, a new decade even, it's time to bid a fond farewell to the buzzwords of 2009.  These are the words and terms that most of us were deluged with during the last twelve months.  These are the words that have etched themselves so deeply into my psyche that when I wake up in the middle of the night from my dreams, which appear in a 728x90 frame, they roll off my tongue and into the night.

"Optimization Algorithm": too many companies used this term in 2009.  Companies came out of the woodwork to help us "optimize" our campaigns with an automated solution on a special proprietary, mathematical formula that no one else had -- but not many were able to deliver on the promise they made.  That's not to say they won't figure it out in 2010, but in 2009 this was an easily overhyped, overused term.

Another term that was tossed around and used to describe just about everything was "platform." In 2009, everyone wanted to be a platform.  No one wanted to be a service -- and absolutely no one wanted to be a Web site.  Being a Web site was soooo 2002.  Being a platform was everyone's desire, with sites like Facebook leading the charge and a nation of emulators following behind.  In 2010 I hope that people will be comfortable with who they (or their business) are, and realize that if you're a Web site, or a service, that's not so bad.  You don't have to be a platform to be considered a success!



Another overused buzzword in 2009 was "data." Now, data is not a buzzword in and of itself, but the overuse of the term made it so ubiquitous as to be annoying.  Everyone had "new data" that would improve targeting, or "new data" that would provide unique insights. 

The fact is that new data is only as useful as the old data is ineffective.  What that means is that if you build a better mousetrap, but the old mousetrap that everyone uses is working fine, then nobody is going to buy the new mousetrap.  In 2010 I'm certain that data will be of continued importance, but I hope that companies will take the time to determine exactly what to do with the data and shoot for impactful usage, not iterative, incremental improvements.  Use the data for better ad delivery as well as targeting based on recency, not just to give us deeper demographic information. 

"Apps" were all the rage in 2009, and they look to be even more so in 2010, but as apps continue to play a role, the cream will rise to the top.  The challenge has been made, the gauntlet has been thrown and the development of apps is getting better.  No more stick figures fighting; instead, it's higher-resolution, detailed graphics.  It's about useful apps; no more expensive red blinking lights.

The term "recession" was thrown around in 2009 as a reason for everyone's unhappiness, but that is a term that I won't allow in 2010.  The term "recovery" is going to get overused as well, but the fact is that we drive our own success.  Our efforts in this business as well as in others is what drives the growth of the economy. The more effort we put in and the more jobs we create, the better things are going to get.  There may be 10% unemployment because a number of jobs have been cut over the last 18 months, but our industry is a place where those jobs can be recreated -- and it's up to us to make it happen.

In 2010 I want the buzzwords to be related to positive steps in our business -- like "increased shareholder value" and "competitive job environment."  I want to see 2010 begin the decade as the decade of growth, but managed growth this time (no bubbles).  I think it can happen, and all because of people like you.

Happy holidays!!





8 comments about "Say Goodbye To The Buzzwords Of 2009".
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  1. Jaffer Ali from PulseTV, December 23, 2009 at 10:55 a.m.

    Cory, in order to have a positive 2010, we all must let go of failure and failed models... Behavioral Targeting..failed miserably to live up to its "promise"... We can only make that positive turn by acknowledging and then letting go of failure.

  2. Kerry Inserra from CBS Integrated Media, December 23, 2009 at 11:31 a.m.


    I have so enjoyed reading your blog over this past year. Your insight into the-ever changing online digital space is right on the mark. I often laugh at how quickly people pick up and utilize the most recent buzzwords of the moment, particularly as it relates to resumes. One must use these buzzwords over and over again in their resy's to get pinged by HR folks who rely on specialized software to narrow down the search process and weed out unsuitable candidates. Key words (or buzzwords) can help you tremendously (in the case of getting your resume to rise to the top) or hurt you if used inappropriately or out of context.

  3. The digital Hobo from, December 23, 2009 at 11:46 a.m.

    As much as I'd like to see "platform" being used only by people who are true platforms, I don't see that one going away.

    Platforms are something that you can build off of. A foundation. If people still innovate off of Facebook's technology / APIs, then they'll still be considered a Platform.

    I dont see anyone in the advertising industry adopting terms like "Software as Service" or discussion "application modules" or "system integrators" over martinis.

  4. Jack a. Silverman from Bolin Marketing, December 23, 2009 at 11:59 a.m.

    Please embrace Cory's advice. The keyword below is "positive" , well stated Cory.

    In 2010 I want the buzzwords to be related to positive steps in our business -- like "increased shareholder value" and "competitive job environment." I want to see 2010 begin the decade as the decade of growth, but managed growth this time (no bubbles). I think it can happen, and all because of people like you.

  5. Corey Kronengold from NYIAX, December 23, 2009 at 12:32 p.m.

    You left out "ecosystem."

    Makes me think of Pauly Shore in "Bio-Dome"

    (c'mon, admit it. you all know you saw it)

  6. Josh Grossman from Springpad, December 23, 2009 at 12:33 p.m.

    Hi Cory,

    As someone involved in the "data" space, I thought I'd respond to your comment to "use the data for better ad delivery." One of the things we're doing at Springpad ( is providing a way for users to save anything they want to remember - gift ideas, recipes, restaurants, notes, etc - and then come back to Springpad when they need the content they've saved. At that point a user has shown their interest to act on the data they've saved - like make a recipe, or buy a gift - and advertisers can reach these consumers at the ideal point in the decision making process. We'll have more info about our initiatives coming soon. Look forward to reading more of your articles in the new year.

  7. Mark allen Roberts from Out of the Box Solutions, LLC, December 23, 2009 at 5:37 p.m.

    lets hope we do not need to use "smore" in 2010 . I discuss smores in my blog

    Mark Allen Roberts

  8. Russell Cross from Prentke Romich, January 4, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.

    More interesting for me is not the overuse of "data" but its gradual transition from a count noun (as the plural form of the singular "datum") to a mass noun (as a non-countable singular, "data.") So when you write "the data is..." you are confirming its growing status as a mass noun - which I'm happy to endorse ;)

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