What will be the next online revolution?

Dan Shapiro, CEO and co-founder of Ontela
Previously worked with RealNetworks and Microsoft

I haven’t found what I would call Web 3.0 in developing technology, but I have found what I’m calling Web 2.go. That is taking the same ideas from what we call Web 2.0 — user-generated con­tent, collaborative filtering and editing sites and social networks — and bringing them with you on the road.

The next revolution isn’t about the Web, its about extending the Web. The newest and most exciting thing to emerge from Web 2.0 is the ability to place offers in a relevant context for the user. It is a whole different opportu­nity from print ads, TVspots or most online banners, which hope to place related ads near related content.

On a mobile phone, if you are wise and selective, then you catch people as they are making an important buying decision. Without the social context you are just doing mass media. It’s about connecting with people at a specific time in their lives; using social networks to contact the users at a time when they are going to be most apt to make a purchasing decision.

No ad broker exists now to take your money to and make all the right buys and put you in front of the right people’s mobile phone. We’re still at the bleeding edge. For those that are willing to take the risks and pay the costs of being the first ones out there, there is a lot of potential return.

Properly used information creates op­portunities that don’t feel like an adver­tisement. You have two square inches to connect with a person at a time that is relevant to them. Doing it right once is far more valuable than doing it five times poorly.


David Mandell, co-founder, Me.dium
Worked at Cohn & Wolfe and Deloitte Consulting

Consumers are gaining a better understanding of what retailers and marketers are doing on the Web to capture their data and, as the under­standing that their behavior action and personal data is valuable, consumers are beginning to have higher expecta­tions when they share information on the Web.

Right now we are seeing more media coverage, data tracking, sharing and selling and more public outcry for opt-outs when it comes to cookie tracking and collection. Consumers are going to start seeing their personal data as an asset, protecting and controlling its use.

For retailers, this means the responsi­bility to be more targeted and respon­sible with something that the consumer is actively and willingly sharing.

My advice is give consumers a tool that gives them value and control of their data and a shopping experience that better mirrors real-life interactions. The next evolution of the Web will be about developing something that is be­yond just you and a Web page and can be about you and other people viewing that same Web page. The Web can become something that is like the physi­cal experience of going to the mall, running into a friend or seeing what a crowd of people are looking at.

Data that comes from opt-in, more complete shopping experiences will ultimately better serve the retailer as well. Cookie data makes assumptions about why a consumer is looking at a certain page. Rather than trying to sell a product, marketers should be looking at the task that a consumer is trying to accomplish online.



Both of our prognosticators draw a picture of marketers using shared social networking information to make appropriate offers in responsible ways. Whether it is best done, as Shapiro suggests, through the mobile phone, or through a customizable, shared online shopping experience, as Mandell suggests, may be something that is ultimately decided by what consumers seize and drive through usage.

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