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Revenge of the Microsite

9th September 11

Author: Calle Sjoenell, Deputy Chief Creative Officer, BBH NY

These are probably words that will haunt me forever, but I must write a tribute to the microsite, currently going through a Phoenix-like transformation known as the web app.

The microsite was originally created to capture a single minded idea in one destination. So sharp and elegant in its purpose, the concept spread and made everyone visit.

For me, it started with IKEA’s Dream Kitchen, one click and hold and I spun in a whirlwind of kitchen options. Minimal input, maximum output, the product at the dead center of the idea. And it sold truckloads if kitchens.

But as with all great ideas, there where thousands of bad executions, wasting clients’ money with little to show in scale or engagement as a result.

Then, of course, marketers had to make a rule about it. We can only build things where the audience is already hanging out. “Fish where the fish are,” and all that. This is in fact a worse sin: creating a blanket rule that microsites don’t work. It’s like saying investing in Internet companies doesn’t work.

This is why I’m musing over the next marketer and publisher obsession on the Internet: the web app. The functionality of HTML5 and its related technology brings us out of the tyranny of page to page style navigation on the web. We will probably laugh at our text and picture based catalogue websites in a few years, a world where each step took 10-15 seconds of mental processing to solve. The web app brings single minded functionality with new interactive capabilities. Just look at the web app versions of Tweetdeck, NY Times and Angry Birds and you see the potential. Eerily like a microsite.

But we can never forget the cardinal rule of communication that now rules all media channels, even TV.

If you make something great, they will come (or watch). Otherwise, they won’t.

Damn, did I just make a blanket rule?

Long live the microsite.

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