It only takes a few examples to make a trend.
When Google acquired Internet ad services firm DoubleClick, industry watchers viewed the development as another (hefty) strategic acquisition that further served Google's plans for world domination. But, soon after, WPP acquired digital marketing company 24/7 Real Media and Microsoft acquired digital marketing holding company aQuantive for a cool $6 billion, giving marketing-industry watchers the license to say that online advertising is sure to be huge in the next few years.
Rather than being frightened that this spate of acquisitions condemn their discipline to secondary status, PR pros should be emboldened and take this as a sign to fully embrace online and social media.
For many companies and their interactive shops, placing ads online has been the institutional procedure since the onset of the Internet environment. And while ads are becoming more tailored to particular audiences, they are still paid media that are mostly short on dialogue or interaction.
This is not to say that online ads are not incredibly important. And no one doubts that technological advancements will lead advertisers towards more tailored messages and true interactivity in their paid placements. But consumer preferences and the virtually unlimited opportunities for companies to participate in honest dialogue with constituents auger well for a sea change in how they view their online priorities.
The likelihood is that we have no clue how the Internet of 2015 - or even 2010 - will look. These acquisitions, by two product giants and a marketing holding company, means that the major players are very keen to have a hand in shaping the future of the Internet. PR pros everywhere should be as similarly engaged, lest they wish to remain on the sidelines.