Broadly speaking, the internet itself would not be profitable. The vast majority of websites would not exist.
Although most of the discussion around marketing intelligence focuses on defeating competitors, it is much more important than just moving customers from one company to another. Marketing Intelligence allows companies and customers to connect. Working perfectly, marketing intelligence delivers ads to people who are interested in those ads. Without it, we would be stuck with extremely unprofitable random banner ads that are useless to everyone.
More specifically, without marketing intelligence, all online businesses would be doing a lot worse. Effects on business would include:
Businesses would be unable to refine their marketing strategies. All refining of strategies relies on an awareness of what works and what doesn’t. Without marketing intelligence, this is impossible to work out. All marketing strategy changes would be based just on net profits and marketing expenditures, meaning that if you wanted more customers you would have to change aspects of your strategy totally at random.
Businesses would have no quantitative marketing data. Even if you could get a sense of which marketing strategies work, you still would have no hard data to back it up. This is a big deal because no marketer is perfect. Everyone gets emotional and everyone has bad days. If you didn’t have the hard numbers in front of you, do you think you would always be able to make a rational choice about which strategy to go with?
Businesses could not calculate advanced data. Without raw data, businesses couldn’t calculate advanced data. In particular, they couldn’t work out the holy grail of marketing data: Return on Investment (ROI). Without an accurate Return on Investment measurement, businesses would either have to change too much or nothing at all. They would not be able to make the small tweaks and optimizations to gradually nudge up their Return on Investment.
New businesses would have a much harder time. Marketing intelligence is most useful for new businesses just entering into an industry. Without marketing intelligence, instead of starting with an accurate understanding of why competitors are successful and what customers want, new businesses entering an industry would start with nothing.
Web design would be much less useful for everyone involved. Marketing intelligence helps you follow visitors through your site, finding out which navigation tools are easiest or most attractive, which page elements are most attractive to visitors, and what content helps convince visitors to buy. This is good for your profits and good for your customers.
These would all be effects on the world if marketing intelligence disappeared suddenly. However, the effect on an individual business for refusing to use marketing intelligence, in a world where it exists, are even worse. Most companies use marketing intelligence to improve their campaigns, fine-tune their websites, and better connect with customers. Those that don’t are using stone tools in an Iron Age.