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Monday, October 19, 2009

If you’re wondering what’s in store for the World Wide Web in 2010, you don’t have to think too hard.  I’ve been hearing a lot lately about what’s next for the Internet and it’s simply stated as Web 3.0.  Not sure what Web 3.0 is all about?  Simply stated, the concept of Web 3.0, the next iteration after Web 2.0, is about the sophistication of the web and the experience it’s going to create for each of us.

Web 3.0, also referred to as the Semantic web, uses artificial intelligence to improve your online experience.  It’s personalization taken to the next level.  Today when you visit a web site or browse the Web data is being collected about you, browsing behavior, and the sites you visit.  Imagine if all of this information was collected, processed, and built into a personal profile that would customize your online experiences?  Well, that’s what Web 3.0 promises to do.

Since the new Web will take past behavior like online purchases, browsing behavior, searches, etc. into consideration when building your personal profile, your experience online will be customized to you.  There are already concepts like a recommendation engine and a retail recommender that are in use today on some leading web sites.

Long gone will be the days of receiving promotional emails for stuff you don’t want – when you don’t want it.  In fact, chances are that interactions online and off will seem freakishly accurate.

For example, let’s say I only buy jeans once a year (I admit it… it’s true).  And let’s also say that I always buy them around the same time from the same online store – the GAP maybe.  Okay, now enter Web 3.0.  My interaction with the GAP online and offline will work very differently than it does today.  Not a week goes by now where I receive some type of promotion from GAP in my email and even my physical address.  And yes, I throw these things out and delete all of the email because I’m don’t buy scarves!  

In the future, the GAP is only going to contact me once, maybe two times each year to remind me about my annual jean buying day and the communication, web pages I visit, and checkout experience will all be customized based on my previous activities.  In fact, the non-response to emails and post cards should also yield less junk mail.  As my behaviors are recorded and fed into the latest artificial intelligence, I’m going to see less of what I don’t want and more of what I do want.

The best part of Web 3.0 from my perspective is that it not only works from a user’s perspective but also from a web site or retailer perspective.  You won’t be getting communication in any form that doesn’t work for you and your online experiences will be customized for you and you alone.  Trying to sell me on the “best selling products” or “top recommendations” may work today but won’t be necessary in the future.  Give me my top recommendations based on my buying behavior and preferences – not what the masses think.

Concerned about privacy?  I’ve got news for you.  If you knew what web sites are tracking today and the wealth of knowledge out there on the Internet, you’d probably have a heart attack.  I do believe that users should still have to give permission for this type of tracking and data aggregation to occur but my feeling is that you’re better off embracing it that throwing the concept to the wind.  Besides, Internet security continues to advance as well so one would think that additional protections are going to come with advances in Web technology.

So here we are.  The signs of Web 3.0 are here.  Keep your eyes and ears open for the continued evolution of the web. As marketers, we need to decide how we are going to leverage this information, technology, and improve the overall user experience.  That's our job and will be our focus in the months and years to come!


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