The Death of the Web Site, Part 2

In coming years, Web sites as we know them today will be rather unimpressive. Currently, they offer loads of text and smart-looking graphics, which can be very useful and informative. But that won’t cut it in our ever-changing digital circus maximus. The reason why happens every day.

People care less about where entertainment and information come from. A void has been created between the slow, methodical, traditional news media and the Internet’s fast and “honest” forms of video-based journalism. As time passes, people will care even less about where and how they get news, be it fast and raw or slow and succinct.

This dynamic contributes to the demise of today’s Web sites and the elevation of advertising or entertainment-based marketing.

Why?

The goal of any Web site is to be easy to use. Yet most sites are built on a learned pattern of a similar experience. All good, but the downside is this becomes such a learned experience, it fades into dull and boring.

To illustrate,: if you’ve ever traveled through the Paris metro, you don’t remark on how entertaining it is. You may recall how irritating the French are, but you usually get from point A to point B very easily. After years of using any subway, do you notice anything remarkable? Maybe the advertising?

With every user pattern we develop, someone in advertising tries to break it. It’s just how things are done.

Hence, there’s more video on Web sites and in online advertising in general. Traditional sites are now challenged. They can’t compete with the learned TV experience of non-interactive moving pictures on a screen.

Will these digital dumpsters go the way of the dodo?

We could be seeing the beginnings of the next technology overstepping our text-based form of knowledge retention. As Web sites become active and expressive in any series of marketing initiatives, they become more like ads. But that’s only part of the story.

People still only use technology, we’re don’t integrate it into our lives. Do you have a daily conversation with your laptop? A truly integrated technological experience requires some form of evolution on our part.

These questions fuel the need for better advertising tools, whether they’re distributed applications, microsites, blogs, video blogs, pod blogs, microads, and so on. Whatever you call them, technology and advertising are the elements that break the mold Web sites have built.

Whatever comes out of all this, marketers must understand what was common practice years ago may soon be not only irrelevant but also truly outmoded.

Web sites, online ads, video, and whatever we haven’t yet discovered will present a new set of options in putting the consumer and brand in the same hot tub and letting them relax together a bit.

Brands need to see beyond their view that consumers want to have a relationship through charts and mountains of text rather than, for example, a more self-effacing, interactive video where a conversation can really begin.

Web sites are still part of marketing communications and are influenced by the principle that marketing isn’t a conversation but a sales pitch in which the customer has no voice. Interactive media has so much more to offer than that.

In the end, it’s very possible we’ll see the end of Web sites as we know them and, with it, the end of the infoclustering that’s become an ever-growing landfill of information (and a boon to advertising technologies). We’ll see sites become more open, dynamic, full-screen experiences users can get involved in and have fun with. Kind of like an ad.

We’ll get there, as soon as online marketers start thinking of Web sites as opportunities to truly engage the consumer.

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