The customer is not captive anymore. The customer is active. They are in control.
"Roughly 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners in the U.S. used their devices daily while watching TV," according to Nielsen News. What were they doing? Mainly checking email; but they were also researching products and tracking down discounts.
"Google reported revenues of $9.72 billion for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, an increase of 33% compared to the third quarter of 2010." Extraordinary results in a depressed economy. According to the Financial Times, the revenue growth was driven by "a surge in Google's core search advertising business".
When I start to type "BBC" into Google Chrome I'm not sent to a search results page. Instead, the BBC website automatically starts to load. Google makes most of its revenue from search so why doesn't it send me to the search results page first because that's where its ads are placed?
Because Google understands something very important about the modern world. People want more power, more control, more time. Google focuses on being helpful, being useful, and saving time. Google is not focused on page views or keeping you on its site as long as possible. It's focused on helping you find what you're looking for as quickly as possible.
Traditional marketing looks at the customer and asks: What can you do for me? Web marketing looks at the customer and asks: What can I do for you?
Traditional advertising models are in decline because they focus first and foremost on the needs of the organization, not the needs of the customer.
Focusing on page views and time spent on the page as metrics of success is like a drowning man focusing on drinking. It is a race to the bottom, a circling of the drain. "My fortunes are tied to my pages," Carol Bartz, then CEO of Yahoo, said in 2009. She has subsequently been fired.
Yahoo has been the classic example of traditional media company think. Even though it was born on the Web, it quickly became wedded to the advertiser, not the customer. By 2004, for example, its homepage had become a total bloat of 255 links. "It had nothing to do with the user, but what Yahoo wanted the user to do," Yahoo's Tapan Bhat, senior vice president of Integrated Consumer Experiences told the Wall Street Journal in July 2008.
Today, if you don't put the customer first they reach for their smartphone.
They just don't pay attention. When you put silly ads in their way as they try to get to a page, they just scan for the big X so they can skip past the annoyance. Yahoo was so excited about the 1% it got to click on its banner ads, never considering the 99% it annoyed.
"I stopped using Yahoo when I had to search for the search," one person said to me. The Cult of Volume destroys value. Keeping people on pages so as to sell more ads is a counterproductive tactic. If people want to spend time-if they want to waste time-let them spend and waste their time on the things they want to do.
Ask not what your customer can do for you. Ask what you can do for your customer.