Guide Sponsor - Julian Walker, co-founder, Steak Media

Julian Walker, co-founder, Steak MediaFor both the digital industry and everyone at Steak, 2007 has been a hectic year. Weve grown from one office in London to three spanning the US, UK and Australia and launched Steak Creative. It has been a year of industry growth, record online ad spend and a bumper Christmas for many retailers websites even if most of their high street presences fared less well.

So what will 2008 bring? Playing the predictions game is always an easy way to end up with egg on your face, but here goes.

Mobile has long been the next big thing in digital, but it has never lived up to the hype. Small screen sizes, expensive data plans and a lack of mobile-compatible websites means it has never fulfilled its promise. These obstacles are starting to disappear in 2008 and ad campaigns by the phone networks will be crucial in stimulating demand for the mobile internet. Mobile has yet to come of age, but 2008 will, I believe, be the birth year of this exciting medium.

It will also be the year of consolidation. Yahoo! will change, even if right now what that means is unclear. Whether from acquisition by Microsoft, merger with AOL, partnership with Google or deal with News Corporation, Yahoo! will be a different beast in 2009. I hope that we see a strong contender emerge in the search space to keep Google on its toes and push forward innovation, not just in search but in the areas Yahoo! has been excelling in, including mobile, display and behavioural targeting.

The integration of DoubleClick into Google and Atlas into MSN will also usher in changes, and concerns. There is a risk in two companies controlling so much traffic and data on consumer behaviour. Equally, this acquisition will bring new innovations that will benefit the industry

The economy will be a continuous theme in 2008, but this is a golden opportunity for the industry to shine. The efficiencies digital offers in generating sales is unparalleled its easy for us to forget what a compelling story digital adverting is for marketers who are struggling with TV, direct mail and so on. Savvy clients will turn to digital to increase their sales even as other channels fall off under economic pressure. Digital will be more important than ever in 2008.

Steak Media