By the time you read this, there’s a good chance that we will be at War with Iraq. As I write this on Monday night, a couple of hours after the Bush proclamation that Saddam Hussein has 48 hrs to leave Iraq or face military action, I find myself wondering how the world will witness the evolution of the Middle East.
I recall sitting in a cafeteria in High School watching the Persian Gulf War on television. That was a media War. A War that was literally televised into every U.S. household. Now, with the images of Afghanistan still fresh in our minds, we will watch the display of raw might that is the United States military as we rain down upon Baghdad and force a regime change that is debated in the eyes of some Americans.
Now I am not here to debate this exercise, I am only here to contemplate the effect on our every day lives. This War will certainly have an impact on our immediate lives as the majority of the world will utilize the Internet to receive and exchange information and opinions of the conflict in the Middle East. Here are some of my predictions for the coming weeks:
Internet Traffic Up!First of all, Internet traffic is going to spike radically, especially on News and Sports sites. The obvious reason being that people are paying attention to the Gulf War Sequel, but this also comes while the NCAA tournament is being held, which also results in increased traffic to Sports sites. This “1-2” punch is going to drive certain sites to possibly unforeseen levels.
Community-Centric Sites Up Higher!Chat rooms and discussion groups are going to increase as much as 100% while people exchange information and opinions. There were a number of instances in recent months of online chats surrounding peace rallies and protests that resulted in the organization of many offline actions. This will only increase as people utilize the Internet to continue these types of gatherings and discussions.
Click Rates Down!While traffic increases immediate response to advertising is going to decrease. Click rates will drop as people will be surfing with more of a purpose and will be less likely to click on an ad. I also believe that view-through conversions will drop even though conversions from a click will stay the same. It will be more difficult to develop a brand image in the environment of War, where people are preoccupied with a single idea of news. The good news is that…
Ad-Spending Will Be Unaffected.The effect of the War will not be on decreasing ad-spend as most advertisers do not believe the War will last. According to most sources, the actual conflict part of this war will be brief and one-sided. If the Military is as effective as most reports of their technology and plan of attack lead us to believe, resistance will be futile and most of the Iraqi defenses will be neutralized before they can even get a shot off. This translates into a short burst of War and a prolonged clean-up. The clean-up, though costly, seems to be considered a boon for the economy. Wall Street saw a skyrocketing Dow on Monday as the war became inevitable, so big business seems to be downplaying the effect of this conflict.
The net of these ideas is simple. The War will further cement the role of the Internet in the everyday usage of the average United States citizen, and it will simultaneously make our jobs that much more difficult. As people become more and more used to utilizing the web for everyday use, we will quickly need to determine how to best use the medium to effect consumer behavior. Our ads will need to be seen; especially when there are even more people and they are not necessarily paying attention to us. As the Internet is viewed in the same way as CNN rather than MTV, how will our advertising be effective? On CNN, commercials become even more of a time for debate and discussion. How do we keep the consumer paying attention without being considered callous, invasive or annoying?
The answer is out there somewhere.