Do you remember? Gold rush in 1995

Sean pointed me to an old article that takes us down memory lane. It’s about the gold rush feeling some 12 years ago. The hopes and expectations were as high as today, but the numbers behind „the web“ were much smaller. Here is a couple of quotes, plus my own thoughts of what has changed in the last 12 years.

It’s that huge body of potential consumers that has businesses scrambling to get onto the Web, to which 6.64 million computers are already hooked up. There are more than 100,000 Web sites already […] The popular Yahoo guide to the Web lists more than 23,540 companies. […] Nielsen Media Research (famed for its TV-market analysis) found that 24 million people in the United States and Canada have used the Internet in the past three months–more than 18 million of whom used the Web.

Interesting by the way, the differentiation between the web and the internet. I guess most digital immigrants of today wouldn’t know that there ever was a difference. And I also think that in another 10 years time, people won’t know what we mean by „surfing the internet“ or „being online“. Simply because the net will be omnipresent. Every electronical device and every house, car, fridge, will be connected to the net. People will be online all the time, without thinking or doing anything about it.

To many, this is the dawn of a radical new commercial era in which a single medium combines elements that used to be conveyed separately: text, voice, video, graphics. Countless firms will be transformed in the process, including publishing, banking, retailing and deliverers of health care, insurance and legal services. […] Is there a market for this commercial zeal? Answer: There is a fairly small one now and probably a large one to come in the next decade. But many things must happen technologically and creatively to draw more paying customers.

While the boom up until 2001 was filled with hope in an era of still too few users and static websites, the last couple of years have changed that. This is, of course, what people refer to as web 2.0. It caused a shift, both technologically, and in the way users can interact with websites (i.e. companies). And there is around 1 billion people online by now – in many developed countries, the rate is between 40-70% of the population.

most information on the Internet is already free, as is much software. Experienced Internauts, not used to paying for things they download, may be reluctant to pay as they go. Second, as spectacular as the Web technology is, it still has a considerable way to go to become attractive to the great numbers of consumers who are used to the amenities of mall and catalog culture.

Things like Flash, AJAX, etc. have greatly improved the usability of many sites. Some sites have implemented payed content business models which actually work, based on exclusive content or functionalities. But quite a few sites that tried to offer more or less regular content for paying subcribers did not succeed an opened up their archives again. This will not change. Unfiltered, regular content will become somewhat of a commodity. Only sites offering added value through filtering, remixing, sorting or commenting existing content will make a difference. If, and only if, users can tailor these services to their needs. Relevance of content will be increasingly important during the ongoing flood and fragmentation of information.

The new requirements for advertising and marketing in this new era were already cristal clear in 1995:

Understand the medium. Conducting business on the Web, a phenomenon with no parallel in communications history, will demand new strategies in advertising and marketing. Unlike broadcasting and print, which are one-to-many entities with a passive audience, the Internet is a many-to-many medium in which everyone with a computer and modem is a potential publisher. Web surfers, for example, tend to be self-directed. They typically have little patience for „brochureware,“ advertisements that are thrown up like so many billboards.
The Web gives commerce a unique opportunity to communicate directly with employees and customers around the world. „The Web can be a powerful tool for fostering connections, building associations, delivering information and creating online communities,“ says John December, co-author of The World Wide Web Unleashed. […] The Web, says Hamilton [Federal Express], is „one of the best customer relationship tools ever.“

I wonder, why it has taken the industry so long to start offering the right kind of marketing tools? In a way, there still is a lot of companies out there that don’t respect what has been written 12 years ago!

I am very curious to see what the world will look like in another 12 years. I will be close to 50 years old, probably with kids – digital natives – and hopefully still maintain this blog. Just to make sure that I will pull this old post out again, I will send myself a reminder via email for in 12 years time, using

The unexpected power of TV advertising

Even though the discussion about the life after the 30 Sec. Spot continues, there are still some amazing examples of how TV advertising produces visible results.

There is a TV spot for German Telekom currently running in Germany, that is quite nicely done, a few nice special effects, absorbing visuals and surprising scene-cuts. But really nothing special.

Yet, the spot draws you in, fascinates you (well, at least me). And that’s mainly because of the song they’ve chosen. It’s „Paint it Black“ by the Rolling Stones and a search on Technorati for this song shows that many people talk about it.

Indeed, if you look at Yahoo! Clever (Yahoo! Answers) in Germany, there are many people looking for the song in the Telekom Ad.

And, furthermore: this song, even though a few decades old, made it all the way to Nr. 2 of the German iTunes charts! Listed before Maroon 5 and P!nk, for example!

The product of German Telekom launches on the 4th of June, so we don’t know yet, how successful this will be.

But we certainly know already, that the TV spot has helped the Rolling Stones catapult one of their classics all the way up the charts. I find this rather amazing.

Yahoo! Pipes – a meshup of feeds

I know I am fairly late with this, but this is absolutely astounding! Yahoo! Pipes let’s users create their own feeds based on any information on the web. Here is an example of a meta-search-feed:

The pipe you’re looking at demonstrates how to use a few of the more powerful modules. In this example a variety of sources are queried with the same term. The results are merged into one feed. Next, all the items are sorted by what was most recently published. Finally any items with identical titles are removed and a new RSS feed is born.

This is how it looks like:


Once you have created a pipe, you can subscribe to the feed via the usual suspects – bloglines in my case.

Apparently you can meshup all sorts of types of information. A popular one for example is a mixture of appartments for rent and google maps.

A fascinating example of how „plattforms“ and „programming“ become less important, because users only meshup what is of interest to them any way. Question is: how can marketers make sure that users still receive marketing messages? (And like receiving them, at the same time – that will be even more important!)

Jason Calacanis‘ story of the trends of advertising 2.0

Jason Calacanis writes about the „real story“ of Advertising 2.0:

The real story of Web 2.0 has little to do with the bells and whistles and everything to do with the stunning growth of online advertising.

He provides a graph with online ad spent per year since 1997 and puts a straight line from ’97 until today, which is, of course, a steep, straight line. (I hope he doesn’t analyse his real money investments the same way!)

He also doesn’t think that the spike over the past year is another bubble, but instead says that the curve is just getting steeper in future, for the following reasons:

a) there are more advertisers online today.
b) it’s getting easier to spend money online
c) Google Adsense/Adwords (a huge part of part B above)
d) Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and Google reaching scale, which in turn allows major advertisers to reach comparable audience sizes to TV
e) audiences shifting from TV, radio, and magazines to the Internet.

All of these seem plausible. Of course one might say: „we thought the same back then in 2000, just for different reasons“, but Jason also shows a second graph with a line ca. 15% less steep, which still is impressive. He suggests to believe the long-term hype and I agree.

Growth rates are probably going to be huge for while. Not necessarily because the medium is more attactive than others (though I think it is at least for some purposes), but purely because there still is a long way to go, until the medium is an everyday medium like the other media – both for the broad audience and for marketers.


Yahoo!’s Time Capsule

Yahoo! has launched a time capsule:

Yahoo today announced the launch of what is expected to be the world’s largest time capsule in history. Starting today, Yahoo! is encouraging people from around the world to contribute personal photos, stories, thoughts, ideas, poems, prayers, home movies, music and art to an online anthropology project designed to celebrate and understand life and global culture in 2006. Content from the time capsule will be broadcast directly onto the 216-foot tall Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan and sent into space through a light beam from the historic monument.

Sounds great, let’s participate…