Last week at the Web 2.0 conference, Wired founder Kevin Kelly presented a few digital trends in the form of verbs. The video of his keynote is worth watching.
I was particularly struck by one of the ideas as a primary challenge to advertising today, the idea of “flowing.” Kelly illustrates that "flowing" is the result of the evolution of the web from pages and links to a realtime web of status updates, check-ins and "streams."
The problem with most advertising efforts today is that many folks are still stuck in this outdated view of the web as pages and links. We’re no longer “surfing” a wave of information, we’re swimming in it.
What should advertising in this "stream” look like?
Be Relevant to the Stream
I think of the standard “push” model of advertising as a brand trying to “interrupt” or “divert” the flow of the stream rather than going along with it. The stream will require new formats that aren’t pages or links, or even ads. The new formats will look very much like the stream itself, and include media like video, photos, status updates and the like. Facebook pages are just the beginning.
Brands are now creating their own streams. Many brands are seeing success not by trying to interrupt a customer’s stream, but interact with them. This is also why content strategy is important. A brand's stream must hold its own with consumer content.
Streams aren't 9 to 5
Television runs on schedules, magazines come out monthly, but there’s no online schedule. Everything is on-demand, and advertising wasn’t built to work on that timetable. In the past, we had the luxury of getting an ad in front of someone, hoping that at some point in the near future, they’d remember our company and buy our goods. A real-time web will require real-time ads.
It's easy for advertisers to understand the web as pages. At least this was similar to the modular idea of creating single-page ads and inserting 30-second spots. The new web of streams is something very different. It’s only happened within the last few years, while our industry has still been playing catch-up with a model their customers are beginning to outgrow.
I don’t know what advertising in the flow will look like exactly, but if it’s done right, I don’t think it will look anything like the advertising we’re doing today.