Whatever the reasons, it appears that we're poised for an upswing. Since I'm a firm believer that goal-setting is half the battle when running online media, I think we should be careful to avoid the mistakes we've made in the past and make sure that we set goals very carefully. After all, we don't want to be in the same boat we were in a few years back, when many clients declared that "online doesn't work."
Many online campaigns that fail were set up to do so from the very beginning. In many cases, clients get excited about measuring the effects of their online campaigns, but they judge success against the wrong metrics. To avoid this, do a careful assessment of objectives and make sure that the data that is being provided back to clients is aligned with those objectives.
For instance, if a client wants to increase awareness of their brand, don't send them performance reports that focus on click through rates (CTR). If CTR is presented as a valid metric, clients might see low CTRs and get upset about it. If brand awareness is the objective, a brand survey should be the yardstick, not CTR. Ensure that all your clients are keeping their "eyes on the prize," so to speak.
In setting objectives, be sure that you're not overpromising. Leverage any data you have on hand to predict things like response, brand impact and other success measures. If things seem out of whack, like if a client wants to deliver a million leads per quarter at 10 cents a lead with an offer like "Enter to win a bag of 10,000 marbles" you're in trouble. Adjust expectations before the campaign begins, otherwise you'll set yourself up to fail.
As if you needed an additional incentive to keep clients away from unrealistic expectations, remember that such clients are likely to walk away from the medium entirely if they don't achieve their objectives. This happened when the dot com bubble burst, and it can happen again. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not live through another period of widespread abandonment of our medium. We're fortunate enough to have a second chance, let's be thankful for it and ensure that we hit a home run this time around.