In an unusual move to subsidize its online business, Home Depot has begun to offer prime product placement on its homepage.  Click here for a demo.....

According to Nielsen NetRatings, Home Depot's online store is visited by 4 million shoppers each week, nearly 90% of whom own their own homes.  And now "Vendors can communicate their stories via video," according to Home Depot's Director of Online Marketing, Greg Foglesong.

Three things are interesting about this:

It makes Home Depot a media company -- allowing it to compete with Martha Stewart and HGTV.  This is right in line with Todd Herman's recent comments on Beet.TV.  Pay very, very close attention to what this guy is saying -- and consider thoughtfully how this trend might effect your company (and your marketing job) in 5-7 years.

It takes CPG multichannel merchandising to a whole new level.  In the past, CPG companies like Heinz, Colgate, Coke, and Rubbermaid were unable to reach their end users in a way that could measurably and immediately stimulate demand for their products.  Yes, they could run newspaper ads or feature coupons in the retailer's store environment -- but they couldn't actually tweak their promotions on the fly.  This changes all of that.  Shorter customer feedback loops will increase product development velocity, and that will change the nature of how products are launched and sustained.

It enables new entrants to make inroads into a competitive category much more quickly.  For example, two weeks ago I had a dream that I became rich after having invented a curiously strong, Altoids-like toothpaste called "Bully."  If copied by the likes of Publix and Walmart, Home Depot's move would allow similar niche consumer products to find a wider audience almost immediately.  And the clickthroughs of niche product ads will provide real-time market research to the retailer that there is a strong demand for high-intensity products like Bully or Jones Cola.  Retailers always follow the money, and rolling waves of colorful, clutter busting, here-today-gone-tomorrow niche products could easily impact our society in new and unforeseen ways.

I agree with Rupert Murdoch, who thinks that we are in the top of the second inning of the Internet era.  These are exciting times to be a marketer, and that excitement will be a good thing for marketing candidates who take the time to understand how the latest web apps can interplay with traditional marketing strategies.

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Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter specializing in integrated marketing and "new media." He has been featured in MarketingSherpa's Great Minds in Marketing series and received coverage in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal Online. According to Viral Garden's weekly rankings, Harry's weblog is one of the top 25 marketing weblogs in the world.