While the Internet has always been a risky place to test new ideas, the stakes today are higher than ever. The reason? Explosive growth: In 2004 there were 51 million websites online. Now there are over a billion websites and at least 28 billion Internet-connected devices. There is also more money involved: Juniper Research estimates a global ad spend of $285 billion by 2020, a near doubling of the $160 billion estimated for 2016.
But those same figures mean the potential for breaking new ground on the Internet is better than ever. The key is identifying your biggest risks and circumventing them upfront. In a presentation called “Risk & Rewards,” The Lovie Awards—which honours the full breadth of the European Internet—calls out some examples of award-winning work from which to draw inspiration.
Take What3Words: a service born from the idea to simplify the world’s established house-numbering system by placing the planet on a grid and assigning places 3-word coordinates. This posed a technological risk, since the main measurement of success was scale—a challenge for any startup; no less one that is trying to upend an established system. What3Words founder Chris Sheldrick planned for this by enlisting enterprise partners, hoping they would become advocates. It worked. The first were delivery companies. Delivery errors cost shippers in the UK more than £831 million annually. What3Words slashed that figure by 83%.
Harmon Bros—the US creative agency behind the viral video advert for Squatty Potty (a bathroom stool marketed to seniors), featuring a unicorn having a cheerful bowel movement. It wasn’t just the bizarre concept that was risky: Harmon Bros also wanted to spend Squatty Potty’s entire marketing budget on just the one video. Harmon Bros planned ahead with a detailed roll-out for the video that was tied to purchase intent and analytics—including a build-out of the sales funnel and distribution model. The pitch wasn’t just about a crazy video—they had the data to back it up. The video was a massively viral success and a huge boon to Squatty Potty’s $30m sales.
There remain a myriad of risks associated with taking bold steps on the Internet, whether financial risks, technical misfires, public and cultural failures and beyond. But if you can mitigate them with thoughtful planning, there’s never been a better time to break new ground online.
You can still enter the 7th Annual Lovie Awards before the deadline on 9th June. This year’s Lovies includes new honours in Internet Video especially, like Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Technology, How-to & DIY, Branded Entertainment – Comedy as well as the usual categories for Websites, Online Advertising, Internet Video, Mobile Sites, Apps & Podcasts and Social.