Even in 2010 we still hear the Internet being called a “media channel” or, “the number one media”.

This is old thinking. The Internet today streams video and TV media content on demand; it powers my radio; it provides access to films, books, magazines or news.

Now the browser based Internet is being replaced by “packaged web” platforms that source their content and information from the web, or are connected by the web, but the front end is nothing like a browser.

Already in our research, we can see massive consumption outside the browser based environments. As of September 2010, over 37% accessed the web via mobile (normally for most consumers, a limited browsing or app experience) on a monthly basis, 10% via games consoles, 4% through a TV and 2% via an e-reader. This particularly pronounced for high earning, professional segments in saturated web markets like the US. For example, 8% of Senior Managers / Corporate Executives had accessed the web via an EReader in the last month, compared to 4% for the market and 2% globally. Impressive reach. We also know that 39% of web users are interested in adopting, a demand that is consistent across age groups, although peaks for high earners, a demand that shows, we’re just at the beginning of the app economy.

We also see a massive growth in “packaged web” with internet enabled applications that allow access to different types of media. Already today, 25% downloaded an application in the last month, 27% watched TV shows through an on-demand service (much higher in the UK, where iPlayer has transformed the market), while 18% have listened / watched a Podcast and a massive 30% have listened to live radio online, all points that make the concept of the Internet as a singular media meaningless.

The Impact

This is important for brands, because it demands that we don’t just think about “putting some budget in the Internet”. The way that agencies and brands approach the web, should be focused on content types, in a platform agnostic way. It also means advertising through Internet enabled platforms will be less about optimisation of an unlimited pool of inventory online, and more about creating content, or buying media space in a more traditional way (e.g from a limited pool of higher rate inventory).

It also makes it really complex! While marketing investment might move out of broadcast TV and grow in “online”, it can still be TV advertising. Who manages investments in advertising or sponsorship for television content that makes it across the web?

It all points to needing a much stronger strategy and one that focuses on the full communications mix.

On the other side of the fence, it is a massive opportunity for content producers, primarily because it is much easier to charge for content. As our research shows, there is far greater appetite to pay for online content in closed packaged systems (keep an eye out for a major Visualisation on this later in the year).

It also has an impact on the consumer. Packaged web platforms focus on enabling the consumer to distribute content, not create it. If this trend continues, the consumer will replace the network, but not it’s content.

All in, it’s safe to say in ten years that the concept of a browser will look a bit antiquated.

Perhaps even five.

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