Think about this: are search engines changing or are search engines changing because how we search is changing?
If there's one thing I have learned in my many years as a professional marketer, it is this: once doctors and big pharma start doing things, you are on the brink of a Tipping Point (to steal a Malcolm Gladwell phrase). It's nothing negative (at all) or even a slight against them. Doctors are traditionally slower to adopt to technology (though some of them are at the bleeding edge, so yes, this is a generalization) and big pharma usually takes time to adopt new marketing platforms because of regulations and compliance (again, not a slight against the industry and yes, there are some companies that are more progressive than the lot).
Big pharma and doctors have been embracing Social Media more and more and their online habits are changing.
Just take a look at the healthcare professional marketing space, and you'll see the changes taking place. But, it's not just doctors and pharma that can help us see change when it comes to the Internet. Pew Internet released a study titled, Mobile Health 2010, recently which revealed a very interesting kernel of information: 17% of total cell phone users used their mobile device to look up health information.
That's small. That's a big deal.
While 17% may seem like a small number, just look at the trending and how fast that is going to scale. The basic pretense is also important: more and more people are using their mobile device as their primary connection to the Internet and information via search. Along with that, more and more people are doing this in real-time (as needed) versus trying to remember what it was they were looking for when they are in front of their laptop of desktop computers.
One-line of connectivity.
Companies tend to have an online strategy and a mobile strategy. I believe this to be a critical marketing flaw. Brands need a digital marketing strategy that looks at one-line of connectivity. Consumers are simply connected now. They're starting to care less and less about what they're using to connect (a mobile, a tablet, an e-reader, a laptop, etc...) and they're simply expecting to have a similar experience whether it's a two-inch screen or thirty-two inch screen. When someone recommends something to someone else, they no longer wait to get home and do an online search to check it out, they're whipping out their mobiles and making those searches happen in real-time and out in the wild.
This trend is not going away.
Digital Marketing as we know it today is going to look very different in twelve-months from now. Tablets will continue to flood the market and blur the lines between mobile devices and computers. The mobile wars between Apple, Google (Android), RIM (BlackBerry) and others will continue to intensify, and connectivity (wireless, 3G and beyond) will not only become ubiquitous... it's going to become seamless. Right now, people still struggle to find zones of connectivity. We're going to have connections everywhere (and very fast) in short order. Think about online access as prevalent as radio airwaves or electricity (and, hopefully, with a cheaper cost of access associated to it). The lesson here is not to be disenfranchised with a small number like 17%, but take it with a "glass is half full" attitude so you can better predict where this is going.
Doctors everywhere are making digital house calls. Is your Marketing doing the same?