Webonomics



Introduction
Webonomics, by Evan I. Schwartz, is a practical, strategic tool for positioning and growing your business in the today’s exploding World Wide Web economy. Schwartz addresses the unique problems and rewards businesses can expect to encounter when conducting business in cyberspace. He also dispels some of the most common misconceptions about doing business on the Web. More importantly, Schwartz targets the key to business success on the Web: understanding consumer behaviors and expectations.
From scores of case studies, Schwartz has formulated nine guidelines for growing your business on the Web. Schwartz’s analysis of these cases clearly explains why some businesses thrive and others fail miserably on the Web. To illustrate Schwartz’s nine principles of Webonomics, this synopsis includes only a handful of his case studies.
To apply his nine principles, Schwartz warns that we must first understand the motivations behind four main groups involved in the Web economy: The consumers, the content creators, the marketers, and the infrastructure companies (3). The consumers are in the driver’s seat. They expect to make the Web a place of their own, a place of customized information and relationships. The content creators are those ventures that inhabit the Web and attempt to inform and amuse visitors. Content creators attempt to enhance their brand image and somehow make their Web sites profitable ventures. The marketers represent the thousands of companies that are promoting and selling products and services. The marketers who use a traditional approach to advertise, market, and sell their product on the Web will fall short of success. Finally, the infrastructure companies are selling the tools (hardware and software) to reach this digital landscape. Keeping these four main groups in mind, we now examine Schwartz’s nine principles of Webonomics.

Principle 1: Quality of Experience, Not Quantity of Visitors
Web surfers base the quality of their experience on the total experience of visiting a Web site. The visitor to a site wants a place where he or she can identify and communicate with others who have similar interests. Schwartz refers to this as “community.” The goal is to offer something that causes visitors to return repeatedly to your site; something that grabs and keeps their attention.
One of the most common misconceptions about the Web is that sheer numbers are proof that your site is successful – that all you have to do is run up big numbers, then sell advertising space on your site to marketers who want to reach your audience (36). But reliance on sheer audience size is a recipe for success on television (mass media), not the Web. For content creators, the top priority must be to form a lasting bond with individual consumers and making sure that they are satisfied enough to return again and again. If consumers pay a subscription fee for some of your content, this serves as tangible proof that you are providing a quality Web experience. The Wall Street Journal is one of the few content sites on the Web that actually manages to do both – attract a large audience and provide a high-quality, interactive experience to a core group of consumers.
To illustrate the importance of a quality experience, Schwartz contrasts two adult Web sites: Playboy and Bianca’s Smut Shack. Given its well-known brand name, it is easy to understand how Playboy’s site has as many as 100,000 visitors daily. In contrast, Smut Shack attracts only a quarter of the number of daily visitors experienced by Playboy’s site. But numbers do not necessarily equate to success or quality!
Here are some of the reasons: The average Playboy visitor spends eight to ten minutes at the site, while the average Smut Shack visitor returns ten times per month and spends an average of an hour each time (25). However, it is unknown how many of Playboy’s daily hits are repeat visitors because of information not disclosed by Playboy Enterprises. Essentially, Playboy’s site has very few interactive features that allow visitor participation and the site is only updated an average of twice monthly. The Website, which allows visitors to view a few photos from its magazine, is mainly an advertisement for its print edition.
On the other hand, Smut Shack is built around the ability to let people interact and contribute to the ambiance through its many interactive features