What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is the current evolution of the Internet, which, in basic terms, has from a one-way information store to a two-way collaborative interface.
This evolution in the way the Web is used is a natural progression, driven by new technology that has, in turn, increased collaboration, social interaction, personalization, active participation, and generally more real-time communication. Of course, it is fundamentally a function of the growth of broadband access, both wireline and wireless, supported by application development
to enable these new forums for communicating.
Perhaps the most obvious example is Facebook, which has evolved into not only a giant social networking tool, but an alternative to other, more traditional communication methods, including email, since Facebook features much more than sending messages. It's become a collaborative community, where users are able to interact with individuals and larger communities to gather and share information.
In the business world, the obvious example is the proliferation of click-to-call capabilities integrated into so many Web sites, allowing users to either place a VoIP call, or at the very least, trigger a return call to a landline.
So, it's fair to say that not only has the Web evolved, but it has also had a significant role in creating a new type of Internet user - call him User 2.0.
These new communications methods in a Web 2.0 world
are made possible through the enhancement of service provider networks - specifically the move to IP infrastructures - in both wireline and wireless environments. In fact, there are few activities today that require User 2.0 to be sitting at a desk in front of a PC. Instead, they can use their iPhones, BlackBerries, Android-based devices, and yes, for the old fashioned, laptops with wireless broadband cards.
So, now that Stage One is well underway, with the user community deeply into the process of integrating Web 2.0 capabilities into their daily routines, the question becomes, how can businesses monetize Web 2.0? How can they join the broadband economy?
Perhaps the most obvious answer - and that which is most closely tied to traditional revenue generation - is a new generation of advertising, which is already beginning to emerge. This new model will capitalize on the personalization that is part of the Web 2.0
experience, to provide very targeted advertising using contextual awareness, mobile platforms, personalized emails and IMs, and social networking sites to reach their intended audiences. In fact, the total online advertising market is predicted to eclipse $73 billion by 2012.
Certainly, there is debate over what limitation should be in place regarding advertising platforms that target mobile devices, but as minutes and messaging become increasingly commoditized, those arguments will wither. And, as long as subscribers have the ability to opt out of ongoing advertising, businesses and providers alike will be safeguarded from fault. In addition, the ability to precisely target advertising to select subscribers will not only likely result in higher success rates, but also prove less burdensome for the subscriber.
Of course, regardless of whether advertising is sold using a pay-per-view, pay-per-click, pay-per-sell, or any other emerging model
, the ability to target effectively depends on technology that enables data collection, storage, and mining. Those resources will form the basis of the sophisticated advertising of the future.
There is a tremendous amount of information available to potential advertisers that rests in the (hopefully) safe hands of the network operator, who has access to the virtual footprints left with every move on the Internet. This data is a goldmine for businesses with the technology to collect, analyze, and repurpose it. In fact, mobile carriers have long been using subscriber trend data to up- and cross- sell in the interest of customer retention and increasing ARPU.
This is also where the service provider becomes such a critical part of the Web 2.0 value chain. They have the information that can be used to target advertising based on any number of contextual criteria. With the proper data mining techniques, they will be able to extract valuable information that can then be used to meet the needs of advertisers and content providers. Likewise, post-campaign data mining will lead to more effective campaign analysis.
The potential value of data mining and effective ad targeting will take on new meaning with the continued growth of broadband services. Network operators are already evolving their fixed and/or mobile networks to next generation high leverage networks
, which will allow them greater flexibility and agility in adapting to subscriber behavior - including advertising.
New broadband technologies - including faster speeds and increase bandwidth - are already driving the adoption of new broadband-based services, notably IPTV and streaming video, interactive virtual worlds, with more to come. Each new service or application that is developed for the digital community represents a new advertising opportunity.
In the wireless world, that evolution is rapidly approaching, with LTE and WiMAX
deployments already underway, which will allow wireline-like services to be delivered to wireless devices, presenting yet another potential advertising revenue stream. In fact, circling back to the Facebook example, many mobile device platforms are already Web 2.0 capable, supporting mobile access to Facebook and other social networking sites.
The transformation of the mobile landscape to an all-IP environment also brings additional monetization opportunities, effectively allowing triple play operators to offer mobile triple play
, once networks reach a critical point in development, where service reliability and device compatibility issues have been resolved.
Much work is yet to be done, with network operators only in the initial stages of network evolution, and device manufacturers and content providers still ironing out platform compatibility wrinkles. This is where network equipment vendors like Alcatel-Lucent
become an integral part of the process. They have the experience and the technology
to enable operators to efficiently and cost effectively enhance their capabilities.
Nevertheless, the transformation of the network
, the device, and the user is well underway - especially in the wireline world, where Web 2.0 services are a part of millions of Internet users every day. It is now up to the advertisers and service providers to leverage new user behavior to create new revenue streams.