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OPLIN 4Cast #296: A new look for the Web?

Posted in 4cast

Something interesting is happening right now on the Internet. There is a crop of new websites that don’t look at all like traditional websites – they look more like apps. Pinterest may be the best known example, but the basic idea is the same in all cases; these sites place a lot of emphasis on the visual aspects of the site, and words may be almost secondary. That means they shun the traditional way for websites to make money – display ads – because a display ad gives someone else graphic control over a chunk of your page, which ruins a site that emphasizes a visual “language.” So will this “anti-ad” approach work? And will it really drive a change in the way the Web looks?

  • Welcome to the new Internet: simple design, short names, no ads (BuzzFeed/John Herrman)  “Most notably, perhaps, they’re free of ads. This isn’t at all unusual for a launch product; most of the major sites we use today, such as Facebook and Twitter, started without ads. But these sites seem intrinsically and even philosophically opposed to advertising. Where would an ad go on Svtble? Medium? Branch?”
  • Investors, startups: Here’s what you need to know about native ads (VentureBeat/Dan Greenberg)  “The next generation of Internet elite are bypassing the display ad slog altogether and creating ad products that enable brands to engage natively with their audiences. And as they’re going out and raising money, the startups that can articulate a roadmap for building a native monetization model through ad products that fit uniquely within their sites will find a much more receptive audience … because the value of native monetization hasn’t been lost on the venture community.”
  • The pretty new Web and the future of “native” advertising (The Awl/Choire Sicha)  “What ‘native’ means is: it’s not in an ad box. All ‘native’ means is that advertisers are now getting to come closer to presenting advertising that is less distinguishable from what they like to call ‘content,’ AKA the stuff people make that people go to ‘apps’ and ‘sites’ to see.”
  • Stop publishing Web pages (Dashes/Anil Dash)  “The vast majority of advertising online is dependent on a page-view model that users have overwhelmingly decided to abandon. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others will succeed by making in-stream advertisements that fit in with the native content of their networks. Meanwhile, page-based sites are cramming every corner and bit of white space on their sites with ads that only ever decrease in effectiveness until they are made even larger and more intrusive every few years.”

Web page design fact:
As our colleague Laura Solomon has recently pointed out [pdf, page 3], libraries need to be aware of people’s increasing “blindness” to display ads as they decide where to place content on their Web pages.