Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Web 2.0’s affect on Marketing

Web 2.0 was coined my O’Reilly Media in 2003 and has become many things to many people. Some would even say that it doesn’t really mean anything at all. Most would agree it is just the natural inflection point of the DOTCOM phase (Net 1.0) and what comes after it (Web 2.0). Over time is has come to mean a change in the direction of information on the web. The underpinnings are elements like social networking sites, wikis and folksomoies. In the past (Web 1.0) someone (supplier) would produce content, they would publish the content on a website and push the information out to the users (consumers). Web 2.0 is an attempt to formalize a symbiotic relationship between suppliers and consumers of information. (Great video tutorial on Web 2.0 ) Consumers can now become directly involved with content on the Internet. It is a two-way conversation with the original content provider. Blogs are perfect examples. Someone can post content and anyone who reads it can post a comment correcting or adding to anything that was originally posted. These comments bring clarity to the original content. Many times the comments have a stronger impact on readership and creditability, then the original post. Companies like ViTrue have launched a user-created advertising platform that allows companies to use a Web 2.0 approach for collaborative promotion development. The company (supplier) creates a marketing program around a subject. The consumer creates the content and posts it to ViTrue’s site. The supplier then uses, by virtue of user voting, the best of the user-supplied content in their promotional package. An interesting aspect is the extent that users propagate the content across the network without direct involvement by the originating company (viral marketing). ViTrue provides a vetting process that helps weed out undesirable content, which is a big distinction with sites like YouTube that have less control over user interaction.

Times Magazines “Person of the Year” is the consumer. And the consumer will continue to become more ingrained in the promotional process. Marketing is being driven toward the “Have it your way” approach to promotions. Many of us have Kroger or CVS cards that track what we buy. The card also allows the retailer to customize his or her promotions sent to each cardholder. For years major magazines have had regional publications to maximize advertising dollars within each market. This isn’t new stuff it is just more sophisticated. Self-serve gasoline has been around since the 1970’s. Self-server check out counters started being installed few years ago, we are now entering the self-server advertising era. We all thought that self-serve check out was a way of saving on employees, not providing better service (and it was for the most part). But now self-serve is part of our culture. Many people now prefer self-service to live cashiers.

Some day a cottage industry will sprout up of innovative aspiring producers that can have their creations aired by submitting them through a Web 2.0 portal. If their stuff gets voted to the top, they become the star. Marketing’s role this process will be to determine the direction of the ideation. They will also provide the vetting process to assure company standards are met. Traditional marketing will always have a place in the promotional mix. Web 2.0 may just give them more original material to work with.

Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising. -Mark Twain

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