When asked by Newsweek for an opinion about Web 2.0 start-ups, Guy Kawasaki replied: "When people say to me it's a Web 2.0 application, I want to puke."
Kawasaki's the founder of Garage Ventures and knows a thing or two about technology start-ups, the internet, and, one might guess, puke. For my part, Web 2.0, as famously defined by Tim O'Reilly, is a concept that I find easy to understand.
So when Newsweek oversimplifies Web 2.0 for its audience, and thus loses much in translation, I want to puke too. As a venture capitalist, Kawasaki doesn't have much patience for repetition; the more business plans that come his way with the term Web 2.0 in it, the more prone to emesis he becomes.
The rest of us are not that far ahead on the internet technology curve. As a web developer, it's important for me to help people understand what we're talking about when we talk about Web 2.0. As marketers, Web 2.0 offers much by way of disseminating your brand through additional channels. I wrote about that in some detail not too long ago.
Web 2.0's darling concept is the Long Tail, which allows us the ability to tap into vastly more direct, one-to-few channels of communication. Some call it micropersuasion. Whatever you call it, the long tail effect is only a sliver of what Web 2.0 makes attractive to media. At the same time Web 2.0 helps you connect with like minds, Web 2.0 makes mobility happen. Paypal, staying true to its founders' intent, is now the first real mCommerce (mobile commerce) contender in the United States. The next time the friend-that-never-has-cash-when-it-comes-time-to-split-the-check-at-a-fancy-restaurant pulls another disappearing wallet stunt, tell him to whip out his cell phone and paypal you with a text message instead.
Web 2.0 is also international. As Thomas Friedman calls it, Web 2.0 -- the technology, culture and business of it -- mashes geography into one, big flat world. Coordinating efforts of marketing teams in all of your major international markets can be facilitated inexpensively with a little love from Social Text (an enterprise wiki) and Skype (free, clear calls from and to anywhere in the world).
If you're a media outlet, why not consider what Ross Mayfield calls Buy-Side Publishing? iStockPhoto has, and it's more than the graphic design and photography communities that love them for it. License for share and re-use was what made this little stock photo company an attractive acquisition in Getty's portfolio.
It won't be long before you're abandoning your traditional media-buying, which will include more planning, but lead to better measurements and lower margins. Web 2.0 is nothing if not results-driven in real-time.
Still, though, what is Web 2.0? To answer that question, I'll let the Web 2.0 do the talking. Here's a primer on all things Web 2.0. It's written in outline format in order to aid in its usability (a central tenet to Web 2.0 philosophy). Bookmark it. Tag it. Roll it. Share it.
What is Web 2.0?-- Article by Tim O'Reily that started it all.
Web 2.0 Newsweek Article-- Web 2.0 according to Newsweek.
Web 2.0 Definition in Wikipedia-- The official user-tested definition.
API Definition in Wikipedia-- APIs put the "Web service" in Web 2.0 services.
AJAX Definition in Wikipedia-- AJAX adds some wow factor to Web 2.0 services.
Books, reference and essential reading (Background information on Web 2.0)
Wisdom of Crowds-- By James Surowiecki (book site here), the New Yorker's Financial Page staff writer.
Cathedral and the Bazaar-- The socio-economic view of open source development.
The Long Tail -- A term coined by Chris Anderson, Wired's editor in chief.
The World is Flat-- By Thomas Friedman, foreign correspondent to The New York Times.
Wikipedia.org-- The ultimate Web 2.0 reference.
Tech Crunch-- The penultimate reference-- A Web 2.0 blog (i.e. the Gizmodo of Web 2.0).
Picks and Axes (For building Web 2.0 services)
Ruby on Rails-- A scripting language (ruby) and framework (rails).
ONLamp-- A reference site for open source technologies such as Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL (i.e. technologies with which many Web 2.0 plays have been developed).
Ajaxian-- Blog and reference for AJAX development.
Web standards-- Without which AJAX would be much, much more difficult.
Opera and Firefox-- Two standards-compliant, Web 2.0 developer friendly web browsers.
Directories (Research, Reference and Intelligence-- Keeping your fingers on the pulse of Web 2.0)
Web 2.0 database - A web-based database of Web 2.0 plays.
Programmable Web API Dashbaord-- Meta-information about use and popularity of certain Web 2.0 API's.
WSFinder-- Wiki for Web 2.0 Open API's.
Web 2.0 Logos-- The logos of some 200 Web 2.0 services (Note: some might argue that half of these logos are from non-Web 2.0 companies)
eHub-- An ongoing blog of Web 2.0 links.
KoolWeb-- A user-generated directory of Web 2.0 darlings.
"Web 2.0"-- As tagged in Del.icio.us.
Those sites should serve you well in your studies. But they don't tell the Web 2.0 story all that well, do they? I'm a big fan of the show-don't-tell rule of story-telling. So what follows is a severely pared down list of the Web 2.0 winners in my mind. That is, the following services represent what I think are the best of what the Web 2.0 world has to offer right now. Certainly this is debatable, but in an effort to help others understand just what Web 2.0 services look, feel and taste like, the following will more than do the trick.
Amazon.com Web Services-- APIs and SDK for extending amazon merchandising services.
Amazon's Mechanical Turk-- "Artificial Intelligence" web service.
Amazon.com S3-- On-demand database.
Writely-- On-demand publishing / applications / word-processing.
Google Maps-- Mapping
Google Calendar-- Calendaring
Google News-- News
Google Search-- Web Search
Google Adwords-- Contextual Advertising
Odeo-- Podcasting network.
Google Code-- API's and SDK's for extending Google services.
Del.icio.us-- Tagging/Social Bookmarking
Yahoo Maps-- Mapping
Yahoo News-- News
Yahoo Search-- Web Search
Yahoo Seach Marketing-- Contextual Advertising
Upcoming.org-- Events management
Yahoo Developer Network-- API's and SDK's for extending yahoo services.
eBay Developer Network-- API's and SDK's for extending eBay's merchant services.
Paypal Web Services-- API's and SDK's for extending PayPal transaction services.
iStockPhoto-- Stock photos
Digg-- Like Google news, except popularity of articles determined by audience.
Irows-- Spreadsheet service (i.e. MS Excel on line).
Thumbstacks-- Online Presentation application (i.e. MS Powerpoint Online).
30 Boxes-- Collaborative calendaring.
Youtube-- Flickr for your videos.
EVDB/Eventful-- Events management.
Sxip-- Identity Management.
Socialtext-- Corporate collaboration/wiki.
Bloglines-- Feed aggregator.
Technorati-- Blogoshphere search.
Basecamp-- Project management.
Dabble-- Database service (like GoogleBase).
Teamslide-- Web presentation service (like WebEx).
Wordpress-- Blog service.
Salesforce.com-- CRM-- Support and Saleforce automation service.
Last.fm-- Music sharing and social networking.
Webjay-- Music sharing and social networking.
Platial-- Places sharing and social networking.
iKarma-- Reputation management. Social networking.
iTunes-- Yes, a Web 2.0 services. You can take your music from the web to your computer, to your MP3 player all at once. And podcasts too.
Bit Torrent-- Social, anonymous, de-centralized file-sharing.
Of course Web 2.0 would be nothing without the innovation that occurs on the edge as a result of the openness of many Web 2.0 services. Innovations that take the existing services, combine them with another and thereby extend them both beyond their original explicit intent. For example, when videos and songs are combined in innovative ways, it's called "sampling," "mixing" or "mashing." By the same token, web service "mixes" are called "mashups," too.
Fold-- Home page with a bunch of Web 2.0 apps mashed onto it.
Zillow-- Real estate mashup of map and real estate data.
Greasemonkey-- Firefox plug-in that allows users to customize the view (and in some cases functionality) of a website to one's individual needs.
HousingMaps.com-- Craigslist + Google Maps
eGoWalk-- Upcoming.org + Yahoo Maps
Had your fill? Digg it!
The online ad creative shuffle
Alas, digital creative is under the microscope too.
Online publishers -- in a mad dash to get their hands on a bigger slice of the leftover digital ad dollars not being planned by robots -- are giving creative away for free. Media planners are asking for it because they're looking for unique ideas to integrate brands into the content of sites. Publishers get RFPed to death by media agencies on fishing expeditions, so they have scant resources to come up with these ideas. So, they come up with new turnkey ideas that aren't unique at all, and then have a graphic designer slap a logo on them and change the colors.
Meanwhile, many direct response marketers focus on getting ad units produced for as cheap as humanly possible. Give a monkey some brand guidelines and a "20 percent off" call-to-action, and you've got yourself a $200 banner ad.
All this, of course, leads to lousy, off-strategy creative. Bill Bernbach would be proud.
But does it matter? Depends who you ask.
Last year I had a conversation with a direct response marketer from an online security software company. I talked with him about why it's so necessary for his brand to develop quality creative that reflects the brand values and builds trust among consumers. His response?
"That's not how my team's bonuses are calculated."
And so it goes.
Collaboration will be the new normal
It's hard to imagine the digital landscape being more cluttered. Terence Kawaja's "Ecosystem Map" has gone viral within the ranks of the industry because it so clearly and simply illustrates the complexity of the landscape we operate in.
This convolution is exacerbated by the fact that everyone on that chart is fighting over the same pile of revenue. That fighting isn't in our clients' best interest.
The world has changed. We now live in a collaborative economy. Companies across the globe in every industry are realizing this and adapting to it. The advertising industry must be no different.
Brands will demand collaboration. And since we seem unable to make it happen ourselves, brands will come up with new models to force their partners to play nice in the sandbox.
Pepsi has introduced a new model where it RFPs all of its agencies at once. The best idea can then come from anywhere. Once it is chosen, players go back to their corners and deliver their expertise.
Does this mean the end of the agency of record? More likely an evolution. But it's clear that any agency's claim to be "full-service" must be taken with a grain of salt.
I recently attended a "strategic supplier summit" where my client took a different approach to inducing collaboration. The night before the event, he took all of his key partners -- ad agency, media agency, social agency, publishers, networks, affiliates -- out to dinner at Trader Vic's. There we sipped mai tais, ate riblets, and built relationships.
This client also had a unique approach to divvying up his $72 million budget. Rather than asking his partners to each send him proposals that best suited their own needs, he wanted one proposal from everyone that best suited the brand's needs.
Games gone wild
A few months ago, I watched SCVNGR Chief Ninja (no, I'm not kidding), Seth Priebatsch, give a keynote speech at SXSW called "The Game Layer." According to Seth, if the last 10 years were the Decade of Social Media, the next 10 years will be the Decade of Games.
Of course, Seth's company is a gamification platform, so he's a touch biased. But he does have a point. People are playing social games in droves -- a quarter billion per month. There are 90 million monthly players in CityVille alone. As a medium, games approach television in terms of sheer scale.
Brands are right to scratch their heads and ask, "How can I get in on this?"
There are a number of ways.
First, there are opportunities to buy your way into the game play of existing games -- for example, you could sponsor free virtual goods, put your brand's name on a virtual billboard, or give away points in exchange for a player clicking your ad or watching your video.
Next, you could create your own game. My own interactive agency did this for Adobe. We created a Facebook game called "Real or Fake?" where we challenged users each week to guess whether a series of images were originals or had been doctored in Photoshop. (It's not currently live on Facebook, but you can play "Real or Fake?" by clicking here.)
Finally, you can take a stab at "gamification." Gamification is the art and science of applying game dynamics and game mechanics to non-game experiences. Game dynamics are like strategies (i.e., come back at a specific time to avoid losing all the points you've earned) and game mechanics are like tactics (i.e., badges, leaderboards, points, and challenges) that brands can leverage to gamify marketing programs, loyalty programs, or even training programs. There are even companies like Bunchball that have all the plumbing worked out for you to customize to your brand's content.
Of course, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Games or gamification can be incredibly powerful devices, but they only work if your audience cares about the underlying incentives behind them. People can be motivated by game mechanics, but no one really wants your Jiffy Lube badge on their Facebook page.
In other words, proceed with caution.
Social couponing will jump the shark
When I was a kid, my mom used to clip coupons. She'd walk to the end of the driveway, pick up the Sunday paper, and dutifully clip away.
The coupons were important. Which paper she got them from? Not so much. Therein lies the rub for the social coupon shills of the world.
True, it was impressive as hell when Groupon was named the fastest-growing company ever by Forbes magazine. But will it maintain that growth now that Facebook has a social couponing product? And Google? And AT&T's YP.com?
Groupon is not going to be able to keep it going on product alone. It realizes that it needs to build a strong brand that people love -- and do it quick.
That's the reason Groupon dumped Jason Fried from 37 Signals from the board and brought on Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Fried thinks that it is dumb to spend money on marketing (at least that's what it says in his latest book, "ReWork"). Schultz knows that there's more to a cup of coffee than, well, coffee.
For the rest of us, we've got coupons. Hooray. Now, let's move on.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.
Show shoppers you know them
More than half (56 percent) of consumers say they expect retailers to use what they know from their past interactions and purchases to personalize gift-giving ideas this year. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened, and marketers have found a 760 percent increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. Personalized product recommendations can also have a huge impact on your results: 77 percent of customers make additional purchases when presented with product recommendations that match their needs.
Here are product recommendation ideas to consider:
- Create a gift guide based on prior purchases tailored to shoppers' tastes, like this one from Nike.
- Make recommendations based on what subscribers have purchased, as Zappos did here.
- Look at browsing behavior to offer discounts on similar products in a welcome email. Vons/Pavilions did something similar here.
- Send a wish list reminder that shoppers can share, the way Birchbox did.
Check your automated email lists (more than) twice
Use email automation to boost purchases and save time. Set a trigger and when that action occurs, a specific email or set of emails will be sent to your subscriber. Some examples of automated emails you can send during the holidays include:
Thanks for purchasing
Once a shopper has purchased, you can use an automated email campaign to compel them to buy again. Suggest items on wish lists, recommend other products that relate to the one they just purchased, or offer special deals if they purchase again within a certain amount of time.
Send emails to re-engage shoppers who abandon their online shopping carts. Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, and about 63 percent of it is recoverable by savvy online retailers.
From purchase receipts to shipping notifications, transactional emails are opened four to eight times more often than traditional emails. Adding cross-sell recommendations to shipping confirmation emails can also increase transaction rates by 20 percent.
Go mobile or get coal
One in four retail purchases was made on a mobile device during the holidays last year. Further, 45 percent of online retail traffic came from smartphones and tablets during the 2014 holiday season, up more than 25 percent from 2013. Here are tips for adopting a "mobile-first" mentality to make sure your emails are effective on any device shoppers are using this holiday season:
Use a mobile-friendly email template
Preview how your emails appear on different mobile email clients so you know your email looks fantastic in every inbox.
Keep it brief
On a small screen, five or six sentences can look like a novel. Keep your messages short and consumable, linking to more detailed content on your website or blog.
Use buttons instead of text links
If your readers' finger takes up a significant amount of space on the screen, the worst thing you can do is make them try to click a tiny link. Use call-to-action buttons to make it easy for subscribers to click-through.
Entice readers with a short summary of your email
Use the preheader -- the short summary text that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox -- to pull your reader in. They'll use this to decide whether or not they should open the email, so use it strategically to maximize the selling power of your email content.
You know that the holidays are high-stakes and that email works to reach consumers. Now it's time to make those things work together. Make sure you're using email marketing effectively during the time of year when shoppers are thinking about compiling their holiday wish lists, making purchases and interacting with their favorite brands.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.
"Christmas E-Mail" image via iStock.