As we get ready to to break out the champagne and prepare to toast to the new year–2011 is less than 48 hours away!–we’d be remiss in not looking back at how the internet evolved from another mode of communication into a highly influential branding platform.

– This was the year that left-field agencies like WikiLeaks demonstrated the full power of the internet. And that scared the begeezus out of us.

– But it also helped us connect to some of the smartest people in their fields; people like Drew Bennett, Stephanie Lichtenstein, and Beaudon Spaulding.

– And it was the year when the consumer was forced to wake up–whether due to server outages or hacker attacks or as a response to to corporate irresponsibility.

– It was the year when we demanded more transparency in marketing.

– Twitter, in 2010, went from being an open forum akin to a shouting contest, to a nuanced publicity tool for individuals and companies smart enough to exercise proper netiquette there.

– Some niches remained elusive.

– …while others became newly accessible through more direct media.

– There’s always a way to be a better affiliate.

– We learned about someone who outsmarted Google through terrible customer service. And also that it’s okay if some people don’t like you because of your sales pitch.

– We had to plug our ears from the deafening blare of heightened holiday marketing efforts.

– There was a daring college grad who crowdsourced her college loan payments.

– Many learned that lists may not be accurate, but that’s no reason to get all up-in-arms.

– ..and that being stationed near a high-traffic area like a bathroom could be a major commission-booster.

– We fussed about a new browser that web with social media apps but then forgot about it altogether.

– YouTube hit the billion-user mark.

– Also Digg died this year. Well, they sharply fell from prominence, which in the quick-paced world of social media is akin to dying.

– There really isn’t much to do in the area around New York’s Javits Center.

– We also turned four years old this year!

– And our CEO, Amy Sheridan went on the record about one of the critical keys to success in any marketing endeavor: Talking.

– Email marketers who shock and awe like Lady Gaga will triumph.

– They also faced a new hurdle: Gmail’s new Priority Inbox.

– There were whispers of free wireless in New York.

– Spammers generate a large chunk of all websites.

– This was also the year we learned about the true value of defriending someone on Facebook.

– In the event bloggers could do without showers, engineers have a developed a car-and-house-in-one perfect for them.

– One of our AMs stressed the importance of picking up the phone whenever you had a question.

– 2010 was the year we also got scientific proof that people are generally happier when they wake up and right as they’re about to go to sleep.

– Everyone was wrong about Facebook dying earlier this year.

– Meanwhile, Farmville became way too real.

– An enduring lesson: All the boric acid in the world couldn’t rid the internet of fraudsters.

– The World Cup also happened this year!

– Part of the Blue Phoenix Media crew ended up at AffCon earlier this year, too.

– Whatever happened to Google’s Caffeine?

– There was also some to-do about everyone quitting Facebook because everyone cared about their privacy, but everyone forgot to quit Facebook…so here we are.

– However here’s the final note to leave you with: Blizzard or no, New York City kicked loose $22 million this year in a bid to become the next Silicon Valley. Well, then.

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