The shift to online and mobile is having very specific impacts on the physical world for the first time, and represents “the lowest competitive bar and the highest opportunity” in the 20 years since the Web became commercialized, according to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who spoke today at The IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix.
The U.S. Post Office’s move to cease delivery on Saturday is an absolute sign of the Web’s impact, noted Armstrong. The Web “has been a major shockwave. Offline is going to go offline,” he said. Armstrong noted that he recently had a discussion with one of the world’s largest media buyers, who said “his 5 year strategy is to stop spending entirely on print, moving his budget to digital.”
Meanwhile, the Internet industry is moving to an “always on, reactive, campaign-like environment” from everything from fast food restaurants to tax prep. It is well-poised to pick up traffic and dollars from traditional media, which is “shackled” by detritus such as labor unions, said Armstrong. He noted that AOL recently pulled out of a recent acquisition because it would have required working with a union.
The new environment will also add new usage and dollars via multiple screens, social media and Big Data. “Big Data is a mega, mega, mega change to our industry,” said Armstrong. “Just one percent of Big Data has been mined. There are reams of data all over AOL,” for instance, he said. “You just have to find it.”
One impact of Big Data will be on commerce. We already see it when you go to a Disney park, he said. “You can order everything you want. Then after you leave, they have all the data about what you did totally optimized.” CEO Bob Iger “is really excited about that,” said Armstrong.
The vastly improved Internet environment has additional impacts. For one thing , “content creators are now totally engaged. The fact that they are engaged means we will see longer form video, with the quality going up dramatically. It is the reason we have invested in video content,” he said, noting that such an investment is counter intuitive to his friends in Silicon Valley, but “humans want to be entertained.”