Just about everyone spending money on advertising has a Web site these days. Building a site has been the most popular project for any sized business for the past decade.
Yet company Web sites have mutated into a few forms: a documentation crutch, a cheap testing forum, or a political maelstrom of internal processes that are miles from the promise of digital marketing and all it could be.
Many, if not all, corporate Web sites fall into one of those forms. Most don’t see a way out other than to hire another group to come in and create a whole new bunch of challenges to get the site done right.
Hey, I don’t mind that at all. It keeps me busy. But what does this have to do with your online advertising?
I won’t go into the measurement or political soap opera of company Web sites, but just for fun let’s take the concept of using a Web site as an archive.
It’s called the dumpster theory. You add containers to accommodate the volume of stuff you’ve accumulated. I like to call it “infoclustering,” a practice that’s contributed to online advertising’s growth in recent years.
It’s not an uncommon occurrence. Most company Web sites end up with so much stuff. Users have so much to navigate through, they must use Google to find the pages they want.
Think of that: so much information may be on your Web site that your visitors are better off going to Google (essentially an advert) to find stuff on your site.
Whether they ever really wanted go to your page at all is questionable. JupiterResearch has reported that up to 77 percent of retail site visitors read others’ opinions while researching their purchases. Is it better to learn if your information or product is good from someone else, someone you don’t even know? It seems so.
Enter video. User-generated advocacy is the new extension of this wave. Enabled with a video camera and a little know-how, you’ve got a wonderful viral promotion or a terrible mess on your hands.
But the future isn’t so dark.
Like Web sites, video must change. And users must shift how they interact with the content. We’re not talking about little video screens with some TV-like experience taking over the Web site model. We’re talking a large-format video playing and being controlled by users. You can ask questions, make a mistake, anything. The point is you’ve got someone helping you through the mess.
This idea will change the information experience and how it’s portrayed, not just displayed, through Web sites.
Many factors could contribute to a better Web site experience than the ones that exist today. What this principle teaches us is people are building a pattern of expectations for how they experience a Web site. At the same time, they’re numbing their senses to sites’ real value.
YouTube, MySpace.com, and the other high-bandwidth channels offer heavy competition to make the user feel some level of engagement with a text-heavy site after viewing video all day.
Suffice it to say we aren’t ready for video all the time, yet it’s still in our nature to watch a clip of something happening or someone talking to you, like a TV commercial or a sitcom.
We still need to break through the perception barrier of what a moving picture really means to us as technology gets better at allowing participation in content. I’ll explain why in part two.
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