How would marketing tech fare in a post-website world?

The future may not be on your CMS.

NowThis News, a short-form news outlet for Millennials that has been pivoting since it launched, has taken the next step in its evolution: it has closed down its website; focusing all of its content on apps and rented real estate.

The homepage now reads: “Homepage: Even the word sounds old. Today the news lives where you live.” Users are instead directed to its two mobile apps and Kik, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat, with more social networks to come, for sure. With a couple of million followers spread out across these platforms, it doesn’t seem like such a rash decision.  But NowThis is VC-backed and probably has enough data to know the future of  their users’ content consumption is away from the dot-com. I don’t suspect we’ll see a horde of older companies follow suit… yet.

And still there are plenty of trends conspiring against the idea of an owned dot-com being the leading hub in the a company’s marketing spokes. Every social network of considerable clout has either launched or is taking a hard look at direct selling of products and even in some case, one’s own currency. Users find the experience of going to a website a bit annoying, even more so on a device.

The next 10 years will of course bring a multitude of unforeseen and currently incomprehensible consumer habits and responses to them, but it’s not difficult to contemplate beginning the first draft on the obituary of the homepage. As a publishing brand, this is a frightening occurrence, but it could become a reality. Side note – this should be required reading for everyone in publishing.

Facebook and Twitter are creating the next generation of portals – but these are likely to be more sustainable given that the content is all user-generated and free. And people like angel investor Jason Calacanis predicts that all social networks will eventually follow YouTube’s lead and try to compensate and produce revenue shares with those social network’s influencers. If everyone is incentivized to stay on those social platforms, it’s harder to drive anyone back to your site. 

So, since is the Hub, one logically turns to the opportunity for marketing technologists. With the exception of those who make their living building only traditional website and CMSes, this will be a period of great expansion. If brands are to become unmoored from their homesteads, it’s even more crucial to reach audiences where they are most active and have a definitive mechanism to sell to them directly.  It would hard to believe that Google would not adapt with the times, so SEO/SEM would adapt as well. Where that market goes in a post-homepage world, I’m not sure.

New tools would pop up to manage campaigns across platforms that are even more seamless than today. We may see more creation of applications built off of social networks, like the infamous Facebook Reader; maybe the first wave of them was ahead of its time. Social advertising would have to get even more specialized; campaigns more granular to reflect the reality that everyone is now spending money in social. 

This future is a long ways away, if it even comes to pass. But it’s heartening for marketing technology companies to know the future would still be bright for them.

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