Digital Hot List 2009


Outlandish boasts aside, Mark Zuckerberg is a pretty smart guy. Though the founder and CEO of Facebook lost a bit of credibility in 2008 when he foolishly declared his Beacon ad model would change advertising for the next 100 years, he’s easily regained it all back on the strength of the seemingly effortless growth of his social media platform. Facebook is simply the hottest site in the digital world right now, thanks to Zuckerberg’s wise move three years ago to broaden beyond the college crowd (a move that earned Facebook the No. 1 position on our Digital Hot List in 2007). With exponential member growth across all demographic categories, a credible ad play that has marketers buying in and signing up (as they are on Twitter, No. 3 on this year’s list) and an inclusive model, Facebook stands as the sine qua non of social media.

But Facebook is not the only digital success story, as AdweekMedia digital editors Mike Shields and Brian Morrissey spell out in this year’s Digital Hot List. No. 2 Hulu (up from No. 4 on last year’s list) made good use of “old media” by buying time on this year’s Super Bowl, then watched its uniques surge to 40 million a month—as it secured one of five online video ad dollars. No. 3 Twitter, meanwhile, is so red-hot, TV producers are starting to build “no Tweeting” clauses into actors’ contracts.

Not on the Hot List but certainly meriting attention is the burgeoning business of e-readers. This fledgling industry has rapidly moved past Amazon’s Kindle, embracing all printed media, not just books anymore. Only last week, Barnes & Noble rolled out its category entrant, the nook. Digital editor Shields separates the hype from the realities for ad-supported publishers who are eager to embrace this new way to reach (especially younger) consumers but fully understand this is no panacea.

As the digital industry gets back on its feet after a bruising 2009, expect these 10 leaders on our Digital Hot List, as well as the e-reader purveyors, to lead the way to recovery. 

—The Editors

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