Internet SurpriseThe Internet was originally created as a means to share information that is stored separately in individual computers. Since it exploded into the mainstream social consciousness in the 1980s, the Internet grew as a communication tool, as a repository of data and an entertainment console. Computers from all over the world became connected through fiber optic cables and wireless satellite signals allowing individual users to connect and exchange information at the speed of light. The world just shrunk to a mouse-lick size, thanks to the Internet.
In recent years, the Internet evolved into the largest marketplace in the world thanks to sites like Amazon or EBay and the convenience of electronic banking. However, it did not stop there. The rise of social networking sites – Friendster, Facebook, MySpace and even Twitter – gave a new dimension to the Internet phenomenon. While before Internet seems to be an unlimited, free-for-all highways, social networking sites seemed to aggregate and classified the participants.
This informal “categorization” of Internet users gave birth to forums on practically any topic or issue, there is. Hockey lovers have their own world. Fans of Britney Spears have their own universe. Even Chuck Norris fans have a base website where everyone converges.
This recent trend has given rise to a new Internet marketplace with entirely new products, a revolutionary marketing strategy and a very rich hoard of specific customers. In many forums and social networking sites in-house advertisements and by Google Ad Sense are churning revenues for users and moderators. Clients also get exposed to products not usually seen in the traditional market and even in their own country.
This was made possible as specific people already tend to converge and thus become more lucrative for advertisers eyeing a specific market. While before a real estate company had to advertise across all channels regardless if those watching, are not their target like, say, teenagers the present situation allows specific market targets. Sports apparel firms can choose to advertise in sports forum, or sports websites.
While before product producers buy expensive advertising space in newspapers and TV to gain recognition, at present a simple post in a forum or even an individual email blast can get the job done at a more efficient and cost-effective way. A Google Ad Sense box, for instance, will only cost an advertiser when someone clicks on it. And it only cost a few cents to a few dollars, in comparison to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a 30-second spot on primetime TV.
This has somewhat leveled the playing field. Home-based businesses can now advertise like the big brands on social networking sites. A home-based website developer or fashion accessory maker can now advertise side-by-side Toyota or IKEA.
However, there are more challenges. Advertising expenditures on the Internet are still very small in comparison to traditional media like TV, newspapers or magazines. If the trend continues, Internet sites will become less profitable and would be less efficient and creative to the detriment of users.
However, we still do not know what the Internet has in store for us. Many forecasted its doom before, but it somehow corrected its ways and out from its ranks raised systems and applications that have changed our life. We may still be in for a surprise.
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