Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is a term originally coined by Dale Dougherty and Tim O'Reilly at O'Reilly Media, Inc. to describe key characteristics of Internet companies that were increasingly thriving after the dot-com bubble burst. These characteristics have come to epitomize the current state of Web innovation.

Web 2.0 services and software emphasize the collective intelligence of the masses over the intelligence of a single expert authority and derive value through multi-user interaction rather than one-way "package and distribute" publishing. They rely on an empowered user base to facilitate rich and meaningful interaction that can be used to establish deep and viral relationships, and they provide a powerful feedback channel that allows for constant user-driven improvement.

How is Web 2.0 changing media?
Powered by the principles of Web 2.0, online communities and social networks are causing a shift in media consumption patterns away from editorially generated content to content generated by communities. This shift is happening in both the consumer space and the professional trade publishing business. These new Web 2.0 models are connecting peers, allowing them to exchange knowledge and produce information in the act of doing their jobs.

What are some examples of Web 2.0 services?
  • Professional and social networking: These services give users the tools to connect with each other and communicate. In the case of professional networking, the communication is productive and focused on achieving a specific goal in the workplace or sharing professionalknowledge.
  • Community Blogs: Short for "weblogs," blogs are online journals that readers can follow and comment on. Blogs have been characterized as a disruption to traditional media: Blogs are community-driven journals, written by members of an empowered community rather thanemployees of a publishing firm. In the professional arena, community blogs provide insights andadvice from actual experts on the front line that help other community members do their jobs more efficiently.
  • Discussion groups: These online communities allow users to communicate in threaded
  • conversations that are started when any member of the community asks a question and thenprogress towards a resolution as other members of the community respond. Professionaldiscussion groups allow users to have structured conversations that are fact-finding in nature and targeted towards specific goals such as decision making and problem solving.
  • Wikis: Wikis are Web sites comprised of interconnected pages that can be easily created and edited by any member of a community. They allow for collaborative creation, storage, and organization of information. A common use of wikis within professional communities is to serve as reference guides that reflect the collective knowledge of the community.
What are the opportunities for marketers?
Web 2.0 is giving marketers greater opportunity with consumers. Marketers can now "listen" to their customers, become part of the conversation, and communicate in ways that offer real value and workable solutions to achieve optimum ROI on their campaigns

How can marketers adapt?
Strategies and tools are emerging to help marketers become part of the community and capitalize on the shift in media consumption being driven by Web 2.0 concepts.

Online communities offer the ability to integrate advertising into the experience in a way that users respond to and interact with. An example of an innovative campaign within a community is Oracle's recent sponsorship of a blogcast at ITtoolbox. This sponsorship opportunity featured a respected blog author from the ITtoolbox Blogs program who served as a subject matter expert on a topic of interest to Oracle. In order to listen to the blogcast, interested users were required to provide detailed demographic information, which was qualified and provided to the sponsor. In addition to the tangible benefits of lead generation, Oracle was also able to integrate their brand into the valuable content being generated and consumed by the community.

In addition, the ability to hyper-target the highly specific content created by online communities helps marketers reach their target audience more efficiently. Because a community generates a high volume of content, targeting opportunities like contextual matching and demographic targeting help marketers reach an audience based on the detailed information available.

Advertisers are given the opportunity to enter the community conversation with a relevant offer based on the topic being discussed or the profile of the audience.

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