The Internet Never Sleeps

Virginia Heffernan of the The New York Times Magazine had fun last week poking around some prominent banking and investment sites.

In my fantasies, banks are never financial-services firms, and Bill Clinton did not sign the 1999 law that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, allowing commercial and investment banks to merge.
It seems that the once-glorious Wall Street investment banks — Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns — don’t share my fantasy. Even as they were sick, dying or dead, their Web sites had a chipper, customer-service vibe. They were still babbling about helping me realize my dreams. And money, when I could follow it on these silly sites, tripped around the globe, becoming euros and yen only to spread subprime stardust on razed fields where enchanted condos grew.

I’m dazzled by the fine writing here, but Heffernan also shines a light on an unmet business challenge. Namely, that corporate websites are not operating in real time. No one expects TV or print to be “on” but we do expect the internet to be on at all times.
Maybe all brochureware sites should just be scrapped. If you want the brochure, download it as a PDF. In their place would be some form of multi-stream dialogue—updates from the product, brand and PR teams mixed in with ideas and concerns from the company’s best customers.
Individuals are already migrating to this type of online presence by choosing to maintain soc net profiles versus a full blown website. It’s time for brands to catch up.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.