Waar staan we met internet over een paar jaar?
Sean Carton (Clickz) komt met een aardig lijstje van zaken die volgens hem in de nabije toekomst zullen veranderen.
Given the choice between a wired tether and wireless freedom, which would you chose? Right now, those who have the opportunity and the resources to get their data wirelessly, are. With an explosion of Wi-Fi access points everywhere, soon anyone with a Wi-Fi card in her laptop will be able to hang out outside the office as long as the batteries hold out. Add to this the rapid development in small fuel cells that allow computers to run for days without a charge, and you’ve got a recipe for a major revolution in the way we live with computers. Beyond the laptop, phone access is getting better, palmtops and PDAs have wireless access built in, and people (early adopters, at least ) are starting to expect access.
Will this happen next year? Doubtful, but there’s no conceivable scenario I can think of in which people, given the choice and the hardware, won’t chose to cut Ethernet (and eventually power) cords. What will this mean to marketers? Ubiquitous data access will allow people to be smarter, make more informed decisions, and be all-around tougher customers. Will wireless advertising take off? Maybe some day, in some fashion we haven’t thought of yet. For the next two to five years, we’d better expect our customers to have access to our sites, and our competitors’, everywhere they go.
E-mail: death of a marketing tool.
OK, start the hate mail now. Unless something’s done to stop spam, e-mail as a marketing tool will continue to erode in effectiveness until it’s untenable as a legitimate tool. Several recent reports say this summer is when spam will outpace legitimate e-mail. Regardless of present or pending legislation, it’s only going to get worse. Even if customers want to receive your e-mail, they’ll have an increasingly difficult time finding it in the clutter.
For now, the best marketing strategy is to educate customers on setting up filters so your e-mail lands in the folder that gets read. Legitimate marketers who create desired content will continue to reach some of their audiences. Unless spam goes away, no scenario exists for e-mail to get any easier.
Blogs have gotten a lot of attention in the past six months. Many of my ClickZ colleagues have written some pretty compelling pieces about blogs’ power as a marketing tool, perhaps even replacing the e-mail newsletters. Outside of its utility for marketing, blogging has taken on a life of its own. Millions of registered users blogging away. It’s a new publishing medium that wouldn’t have been possible without the Internet, and one that’s given a meaningful outlet to many folks.
But (you knew there’d be a “but”), it’s not going to last forever. As bloggers know, maintaining a blog is a lot of work. Paying people to keep on blogging can cost lots of money. Eventually, many private bloggers will move on to other things. Corporate bloggers will become too busy (or bored) to blog. As someone who ran a proto-blog for six years, 364 days a year, I know first-hand that at some point, you just run out of steam. Blogs are wonderful innovations. They emphasize the powers of the Net, personality, and instant publishing. Just don’t count on them remaining the phenomenon they’ve been over the past year or so.
Search engine regulation.
Search engines are really the main portals (more cynically, chokepoints) of the Web. The power wielded by Google, Yahoo!, Overture, and MSN is astounding. If you don’t show up on search engines, you might as well not exist. In a world increasingly dependent on the Web, that’s a lot of power. One that won’t go unnoticed by government types (or lawyers) forever. At some point, someone’s going to file a class action suit, or some legislator whose business got lousy rankings is going to say, “Hey! This isn’t fair!” I don’t know how attempts at regulation will pan out, but it’s inevitable the government will try to get involved.
Convergence… sort of.
In media convergence, one plus one won’t equal two. Successful convergence media will not take the form of TV over the Web, or the Web on TV. With digital cable in increasingly more homes and multifunctional devices such as cell phone/PDA combos, the trend is to “smush” more functionality into fewer devices. We aren’t even close yet, but soon Web features will be combined with TV features to create a medium that acts a little like the Web and TV but looks like neither. Ditto with the cell phone/PDA/camera/GPS combos in our future.
Religious conversion of media folks.
No, I don’t mean salvation. Most media folks I know are far beyond that. But in the not-so-distant future, when old-school media directors retire and those raised with the Web take their place, we’ll see a religious conversion in attitudes toward digital media. Not that many haven’t already discovered the Web’s power—just look at increased online spending. But someday, clients and agencies will realize the true implications of the fact the Net is the primary daytime medium. Then, all heck will break loose. This also means mass conversion to the fact ads needn’t be banners.
Death of the focus group as primary qualitative test.
The world’s going digital and becoming a lot more measurable. Real-time measurement comes with real-time knowledge about what customers are doing, watching, and interested in. As data is used (not “collected”), knowing will be much easier. The idea of vetting TV pilots, new products, and new information using groups of 10 people will actually seem as ridiculous as it is. Qualitative data will continue to be vitally important, but as an adjunct to a constant data stream from Web sites, video on demand, and log files from a variety of devices.
Many argue AOL’s troubles hinge on the company’s dial-up dependence. That’s probably true. But as cable expands to more homes and pricing for DSL continues to drop, dial-up will disappear for those who have a choice. It’ll still be used into the foreseeable future. It’s too cheap and ubiquitous to disappear entirely. But as with wireless, we must realize that, given a choice, people always choose faster. In the high-speed environment, rich media is vital, and access to more forms of data is possible for everyone.
Death of the music industry as we know it.
The music industry’s litigious activities are merely one symptom of a dying industry. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is exhibiting classic signs of a person diagnosed with a terminal illness. First it was in denial (“Napster is just a minor problem”). Now it’s in the anger stage (“Sue the students!”). Soon, it’ll move on to bargaining (“We can’t stop it. Maybe we can compromise”). Finally, it’ll reach acceptance and realize the need for another way of making money outside of controlling distribution of digital media on plastic discs. I’m not arguing the morality of file sharing; we’re well beyond that. What I’m saying, based on the millions of users, the pace of technology, and worldwide access to the Web, is there’s no way to stop it. Time to move on and come up with new business models.
The connected consumer as a major force.
Several major industries have been transformed by the power of information in the hands of consumers. Travel, auto, and health have been radically altered. That’s just the beginning. As the next generation of consumers comes of age, people who never knew a time before the Web, cell phones, or IM, a lot more change will occur. Teens today expect all companies have Web sites, think e-mail is a slow communications medium (IM is, like, way faster), and are used to being able to contact anyone they want, whenever they want. They won’t have a lot of patience for companies that don’t open themselves up or respond quickly. This doesn’t mean voice mail or IVR systems will go away. These kids are very comfortable with technology. They expect to get what they want, when they want it. If they don’t, news will spread—fast. Count on it.
The rise of the creatives.
Creativity as a business strategy is going to be the driving factor of success. The Internet tends to turn everything into a commodity. Consumers are accustomed to performing price and product comparisons at will. Geography is less important. The Internet provides access to pretty much anything we want, whenever we want it. Differentiation is increasingly difficult and can only occur through innovation, creativity, and all those “soft” skills that in the past were considered important, but not vital.
Creativity will be the most important strategic weapon for differentiation in the future, no matter the industry. This doesn’t only mean packaging, product design, and marketing. The bar will continuously rise in terms of consumer expectations. Quality, performance, and reliability will always be givens. What will set companies apart will be the creativity applied to making products or services more delightful and exciting to buyers. Will price matter? Of course. But the intangibles make the final decision to purchase happen—or not.