Something big is happening to the Internet. It is changing daily and becoming more fragmented. Standards are collapsing and individual firms and entities are creating their own structures. I have noticed that many of the new browsers do not share much in common. Google’s Chrome is unique and very different from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Between Mozilla’ Firefox and Apple’s Safari, the only commonality is that either can take you to the World Wide Web. The once standard platform for getting into the Internet is becoming history.
I am amazed at how individual entities are developing proprietary platforms to help launch their products to the web. Google, not satisfied with Windows or Linux or UNIX, is coming up with Android and Chrome. Apple’s iPhone is a new ballgame. Think about the Kindle from Amazon. I imagine that Netflix will develop an entirely new platform for online video. And very soon, Direct TV will surely provide a TV only platform for web based TV viewing experience. MySpace, Facebook, and some of the social sites are not part of the ‘main’ Internet since in most cases their contents are not searchable by search engines. They have built barriers around their contents, making those search robots that crawl the internet unwanted guests.
The big question is this? Does it make sense to be thinking about Internet the way we have usually imagined it? Internet of today is very different from the one I used in 2000. Back in 2000, I knew a cohesive internet platform, but now, all I can see is a fragmented system with increasing proprietary ‘gateways’. Under all these scenarios, I have since lost faith in any web hit statistics. I am very skeptical because I am sure that the tools used to measure the web dynamics are not catching up with these innovations. While it is possible to have a tool to notice when a particular site has been visited, I have a doubt that all the tools will actually know when based on different ways to get to the web. Some have used cache for their analytics, but I think that is primitive. This explains why none of the analytics give similar results. In some cases, they are off in millions for top websites like Google, Facebook and Yahoo. They can only count what their algorithms can detect. What if a new platform is out and they did not accommodate that in their designs? I see marketing directors smiling! You may be getting more than you paid.
Why this article? I am just curious over the African companies I have seen advertising on the web. They have to be careful and notice that the web is being redesigned. Standards, devices and platforms are evolving and if anyone asks you to lock up in a long-term contract for advertising, please do not sign. There is a major risk in this web platform fragmentation. And that risk is that advertisement will be site or device specific. In other words, if the ad is not doing well in Twitter, you cannot easily move it to MySpace because they have developed a different platform for getting to the web. That brings cost issues since you will need to redevelop that same ad for a different platform. To help you get the best for your money, do not sign ad developing contracts thinking that you can use the same for different sites or devices. And do not be deceived thinking that Google can reach any online market. It used to be, but now the online structure has changed. Proprietary platforms make it difficult for Google to have that speed to push your ad since they must first receive ‘permissions’ from owners of the platforms become their ads are hosted. This trend is expected to increase. So, know your market and figure out very well on how to reach your target.
In conclusion, I see the web becoming increasingly fragmented with devices to access the web providing niche identifications for market segments. In other words, you can reach some people based on the devices or ways they access the web. Think about it: it makes sense to buy an ad to advertise your new book if Google could help you target only those that accessed the web via Amazon Kindle. Under this process, you have a platform niche based marketing structure that gets to the people you want to reach. Welcome Web 2.0!