The Web is out of its infancy. Now what?
We all know Tim Berners-Lee created the Web in 1989. Did you know he never patented the technology? In a recent Business Week article, Berners-Lee says he simply wanted to make the world a richer place. He wasn't concerned about personal wealth.
He compares today's Web to a rebellious adolescent who can never fulfill her original expectations. Because of this, Berners-Lee is at it again. Within the next three years, he says he will give us the next generation of Web, which he calls the "Semantic Web." It is a smart network that will finally understand human language and make computers virtually as easy to work with as other humans. The ultimate goal is to turn the Web into one colossal brain. In fact, he's got all the top "brains" working on it. The project is being funded by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an open forum of companies and organizations, which he heads.
Out of Berners-Lee's mind came the most significant and innovative piece of software ever created, and the Web, in turn, spawned online advertising (in 1994). So, the Web is out of its infancy, as is online advertising. Now what? It's still a sea of multiple standards, and, in some cases, there are no standards at all. As passionate as we buyers and sellers of online advertising are, we are still frustrated.
Here's a quick list of things that still keep us up at night:
Although the list is constantly growing, the opportunities for online advertising are increasing as well. Internet penetration is on the rise. There are about 127 million adults online in the U.S., according to a Harris Poll. The total Web population is listed to be at 529.9 this year, according to eMarketer. Furthermore, eMarketer says online advertising revenue is projected to increase to $32.5 billion within the next three years. The cost of personal computers is at an all-time low, thus increasing household penetration.
Plus, there are still plenty of long-time advertisers out there, like the GMs, P&Gs, and Compaqs of the world. Meanwhile, industry organizations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau are advocating standardization. Perhaps by the time Berners-Lee has developed this new megahighway, we have the old one figured out.
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Seana Mulcahy is vice president, director of interactive media at Mullen (an IPG company). She's been creating online brands since before the first banner was sold. Her expertise includes online and traditional media planning and buying, e-mail marketing, viral marketing, click-stream analysis, customer tracking, promotions, search engine optimization and launching brands online. Prior to Mullen, Seana was vice president of media services at Carat Interactive. She's built online media services divisions for three companies and has worked with clients spanning financial, telecom, high-tech, healthcare and retail. Not surprisingly, she has taught, lectured and written about the industry for numerous trade associations and publications.
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