June 1996

Be Optimistic

There are compelling reasons for the online world and new media professionals to be optimistic. "Not to worry," advises James Phillips, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Motorola's Multimedia group. "It's going to happen, but it's going to take time. It's an evolution, not a revolution," he says. And Jupiter Communications' Gene DeRose outlined specific reasons to be cheerful. First, many companies are investing a great deal of money in Web development, and they will spend more money to make it work. Second, the Telecommunications Bill is forcing changes and commitments from many in the industry. Third, bandwidth is growing and it will bring the Internet along with it.

[] O'Connor and O'Keefe observe that, viewed as a marketplace, the Internet offers more than 30 million global customers.

Despite the challenges, there are many ways to cover the costs of Web development and some industrious and innovative sites are even making money now. According to Jupiter Communications New Media Analyst Peter Stork, Web revenue models include advertising, subscription, merchandising, charging for services, such as searching and intelligent agents, and cost savings from handling promotion and customer service online. Stork says that companies often overlook the savings model when they consider Web revenue sources.

IMHO, one of the most interesting and innovative use of Web technology to grow and support a business is Coach University. Thomas Leonard, a former financial planner who founded the site for would-be coaches, has enrolled almost 400 students who pay about $2,500 for conference calls and course work they download from the Web. (Do the math! It's pretty amazing.) The AP and Chronicle of Higher Education are using the new medium well to deliver their products electronically to serve their respective niche audiences. And New Market Ventures, a venture development and marketing forum, created New Market Forum to provide fast and easy access to event-related information from more than 10,000 professional associations and membership groups. Visitors can easily search the site and find not only information about upcoming conferences and speakers, but industry newsletters and travel information, too.

"The Internet needs good services, the kind good editors provide," says Marc Andreessen, Netscape's vice president of technology and co-founder. According to Andreessen, personalization is needed to transform the glut of information on the Web into services that are useful to individual users. An emphasis on personalization of services could precipitate a new advertising model, one that emphasizes linking instead of counting eyeballs. "There are three forces at work that will make the Web look like black and white television," says Alfred Sikes, president of Hearst New Media and Technology. Hearst told Jupiter conference audiences that "the Telecommunications act will bring out more competition. The infinite capacity to improve the performance of digital communication and an ensuing market demand will open up a whole new world of personalization and visualization that has not yet been dreamed of," says Sikes.

[] Kresser points out that the Web is a relationship-building marketplace.

It's long been one of the Web's credos that 'content is king.' But the glut of content the Web is now experiencing places new demands on content providers. Fresh ideas, new ways of looking at information and audiences, and innovative uses of technology that solve real problems and serve real needs are sorely needed. It's a time when "creativity of the individual is paramount," says Andreessen. That's the real challenge and the real answer. ^

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