The Internet’s “Third Wave” and What it Means for Marketers

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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The new wave of the Internet is officially upon us.

At South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, a major American media conference, AOL co-founder and venture capitalist Steve Case focused his keynote speech on the three phases or waves of the Internet.

According to Case, the first phase was the birth of the web and the creation of the online landscape. This phase took place primarily in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. The next phase was between 2001 and 2015: this wave is what cemented the web and mobile devices as cornerstones of human culture.

What will the third wave be? According to Case, it will see the accelerated disruption of many prominent industries, including education, healthcare, and transportation.

Is he right to predict this disruptive trend that should have a huge impact on the way that businesses think about the web and how it relates to customers? According to the evidence, absolutely.

For a great example, take Uber, one of the most popular ridesharing companies in the world. Uber was founded in San Francisco, a major west coast American city that is also a hub of technological development. Since its launch in 2009, Uber has grown by leaps and bounds. In San Francisco, Uber now enjoys revenues of $500 million a year. The entire taxi market in the city is just $140 million, more than three times smaller.

Has this American transportation company had a similarly disruptive impact around the globe? Again, absolutely. Since Uber’s Australian launch in October of 2012, the company’s revenues have grown more than 700% in Oz. This is especially significant when you consider that Uber is still illegal in South Australia and Queensland: one can only imagine what the company’s growth would be like if the Australian government wasn’t partially standing in the way.

Why does all of this matter for inbound marketers? Because the disruptive era of the web provides an excellent opportunity for companies to excel.

How Inbound Marketers Can Dominate the Internet’s Age of Disruption

What can companies do to ensure that they stay successful now that this third wave of the Internet is upon us?

Those who are already practicing inbound marketing have a leg up on the competition. Here are three tips that marketers looking to adapt to the new era of the web should keep in mind:

  • It’s all about the customer. Part of the reason that companies like Uber have been so successful at disrupting traditional markets is that people simply prefer using their service to regular taxis. In the case of Uber, for example, 75% of Sydney residents polled about Uber stated that they preferred using the company over taxis because of costs. It’s important to adopt this principle in your marketing efforts as well: if you can identify what your customers want and fulfil that need, you have a much better chance of success


  • Have a positive impact on society. It’s no longer enough for a startup to find a successful model and scale it up to earn big bucks. According to Case’s keynote, companies also need to be aware of their impact on the natural world and society as a whole. As an inbound marketer, this presents a great opportunity to differentiate yourself in the eyes of your prospect: make sure to focus at least part of your campaign on what type of impact your business has on making the world a better place


  • Globalise your efforts. Case says that while places like Silicon Valley will always be a hub for innovation, other cities will soon become major players when it comes to entrepreneurship. These cities are found everywhere: from Iran to Australia to South Africa. For inbound marketers, this globalisation means that you must start to consider whether or not your target audience is an international one. Many companies might be surprised at the conclusions that they draw from these considerations

The development of the Internet has had a huge impact on business and marketing over the past few decades. Now that the third wave is here, savvy marketers have an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the new rules of business around the world to achieve more success than they ever imagined possible.



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