The Future Webeconomy: Part 2

Back to ads…last week when I wrote about the Kindle, I mentioned how the Kindle could provide an open, up-to-the-minute forum for any book. (“Currently with the Kindle, if you see a word you don’t know, you can highlight it to immediately see what it means. Imagine if you could highlight a word and immediately see what it means to the world. To a professor at Yale. To a hitchhiker in Prague. To a Tibetian monk.”) The idea is to connect a real, tangible device–a book, essentially–to the internet.

People have been trying to do this with television. Eventually, someone will get this right. But say, for example, you’re driving down the road and you see a billboard advertising Absolut Citron. It looks good–you’d like to buy some. Plus, you want to know more about it, so you try to memorize the web site while you drive so you can check it when you get home.

Instead of waiting, what if you could point your cell phone or PDA at the billboard and immediately access all of the information you need. It’ll take you to the website, it’ll show you area stores that carry the product, and it’ll give you the option to buy the product online. All with one point and click. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Take it a step further. Today at church, I saw a guy wearing a nice button-down shirt that I thought might look good on me. I didn’t know the guy, and I wasn’t about to ask him the brand of his shirt–I might not even feel comfortable asking someone I know about that, lest they’re embarrassed to reveal that it’s Walmart brand or Express for Women. But what if there was a way to “click” on that shirt with your cell phone or PDA, and it would take you to the web site for that brand. Again, if you had your size information preset in your phone, you could buy the shirt with one click. It’s all about taking away the steps between the consumer and the product, seamlessly integrating “real life” and the internet. (See Minority Report for Spielberg’s slightly invasive take on this.)

The point is that we don’t need ads on the internet. We’re surrounded by ads in real life. Billboards, commercials, clothing–every person is a walking, talking banner ad. Don’t clutter web pages with ads of silhouetted men, overcome with joy because of low mortgage rates, dancing on a rooftop. Make that information accessible–clickable–in real life. Then you have a winner.

Tomorrow:

Hypothetical Case Study for Online Ads