The Web on Life Support

Wired called it last year: “The Web is dead. Long life the Internet.” Sounded a bit silly at that time but facts speak louder than an attention-grabbing headline: Flurry just released a study indicating that people spend more time on mobile apps than on the web.

Mashable reports:

“Flurry compared its mobile data to stats from comScore and Alexa, and found that in June, consumers spent 81 minutes per day using mobile apps, compared to 74 minutes of web surfing. The shift comes as combined table and smartphone shipments eclipsed those of desktops and notebooks for the first time (…) Flurry found consumers spend 9% more time, on average, using mobile apps. The report found that the growth in mobile app usage came mostly from more sessions per user, rather than longer sessions overall.

Those sessions, by and large, are consumed by the use of games and social media apps, which took 47% and 32% of the total amount of time used for such apps.”

Are marketers prepared for this tidal wave?

You’re not serious are you?

Our industry is busy to predict that by 2015 display advertising will account for 28% of all U.S. ad spending, overtaking search in 4 years. (Our own Jack Myers disagrees with this view sharply.) Agencies are knee-deep into developing ad exchanges and new ways to display customers to death while Google buys a platform.

Stop it right there. The web is on the decline while the industry is focusing on the growth of a dead platform?

Radio will be around in 10 years. Just like the Web.

Both won’t ever be as influential and profitable as they used to be. Let’s face it, we helped ruining the Web. We cluttered it with billions of ads, sometimes 20 banners on one page. We treated it like a gang member tagging the house of a rival gang member: Disrespectful, loud and obnoxious. No wonder people are retreating rather quickly and want to experience the more inviting environment of an app.

This is not a fluke.

Apple releases iOS 5 with this nifty feature: “Safari Reader is a new browser feature that will strip out distractions and present the text of a webpage with no other excess content.” (aka display ads…)

Will display advertising overtake search in 4 years?

Only if you look at the present through a rearview mirror, marching backwards into the future.

Looking forward, display advertising as we know it is not the answer. It never was. It was a temporary band-aid, nothing else. Cluttering apps with more display ads is not the answer either.

Here are a few pointers how to survive while apps start to strangle the Web:

· Understand how people are engaging with and consuming content in the mobile world. Understand how your message can be valuable and NOT annoying/intrusive.

· Put the user in control, let them control the interaction with the ad. Stop holding people hostage, keeping them captive. Let them free.

· Design for the medium. Let’s not repeat the Web mistakes we made: commercials became online videos, print ads transformed into display ads. Show respect to the medium.

· Have a strong value proposition and an even more intriguing Call -to-Action. Don’t ask for email addresses or other CRM tactics. Not in apps. Give people something valuable, something tangible, make it worth their while.

This change is not about to happen. It’s happening now. You need to develop strategies NOW to succeed in the future.

Unless you want your brand to go on life support.

About Uwe Hook

Uwe Hook (@uwehook) is the CEO and Co-Founder of BatesHook, Inc. ( and a veteran of the advertising and marketing industry with the goal of building connections between people and brands. Uwe can be reached at



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