Online experts urge businesses not to dismiss the changes taking place in customer behaviour and internet consumption

A panel of industry experts, brought together by Conchango, from Pearson, Play.com, Ogilvy Interactive and Conchango have convened to debate the issue of the latest buzz phrase Web 2.0. The roundtable titled ‘Web 2.0: Marketing hype or the second coming of the internet?’ resoundingly concluded that despite much noise about the term itself, we are experiencing a significant shift in the way the public consumes information, products and services and business should be tailoring their sales and marketing strategies accordingly.

Graham Benson IT Director of Play.com says: “Web 2.0 is confirmation that the Web is now mainstream. It is not a peripheral activity. It is not something people find time to do occasionally. It has become an integral part of their lives, and because of that, the place in the mainstream is bringing a whole new set of challenges that I do not think we faced before. Consumers are more demanding. They set higher expectations and have more sophisticated needs. ‘Click and wait’ has gone; they want instant response and much higher expectations of their experience. Poor experience is remembered and the offenders are avoided.”

The panel believes that currently businesses are stuck in a confidence gap, their customers now have complete confidence in the internet while they are still wary of it, particularly user-generated content, of which there is much buzz at the moment. “Whilst the general public are indicating to pull into the fast lane, owners of corporate websites are still on the hard shoulder” commented Paul Dawson, head of interactive media for Conchango. “These corporates need to shift their understanding, perceptions and assumptions about how people interact with them and what they need from their Website. They can’t be scared to take calculated risks either. The ability to experiment with what gets traction with customers is key.”

But e-Commerce consultant Ian Jindal warns businesses not to jump straight on the user-generated content bandwagon: “I think there is a lot of erroneous comment about user-generated content. The fact that I have a blog and I shout and broadcast at the world makes me no different from an old‑style broadcast journalist. The only difference is that no‑one reads my blog, whereas a couple of million people read newspapers. User‑generated content from a retail or business perspective is more about user‑contributed content or user‑improved content.”

Dawson continues: “So far, the Web has been a very hierarchal experience of following chains of logic. That needs to go and be replaced by a more exploratory browsing experience that is more like real life.”

For further details or to receive a podcast of the event please contact Lorraine.branch@conchango.com or 0207 2614484.

Published on: 12:00AM on 17th August 2006