Are URLs on their way out in the UK too?

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

Back in March of this year I read the article Japan: URL’s Are Totally Out, which showed the trend amongst advertisers in Japan to forsake URLs and instead show a search term (read the article; it explains better than I can).

So I was intrigued when I saw what I believe may be the first instance of this strategy being used here, for Orange’s new “I am” campaign:

Orange 'I am' billboard

I queried the top four search engines here in the UK (Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask) and a link has been sponsored on all four. However, top results were returning a variety of different results, none of them relating to this campaign.

Like the author of the Japan article, I wonder how susceptible this is to counter‐attacks from rival advertisers (or mischief‐makers) who could game negative results to the top of the rankings? It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

3 comments on
“Are URLs on their way out in the UK too?”

  1. I doubt the URL or URI will ever disappear from public consciousness. It’s simply…too useful. It’s like street addresses. They’re always going to be in the public consciousness. Just because we often say something like, “oh, it’s the big yellow & green house near the corner of Dubois & Southport St”, doesn’t mean the number & street address is on its way out either.

  2. Have we not seen this before with AOL keywords and the like?

    Tom Purnell [July 22nd, 2008, 02:30]

  3. I never used AOL, but as I understand it their keywords would take you directly to a website, not a page of search results; that’s the difference.

    I also don’t think we’ll get away from URLs — at least, not in the near future — but I wonder if we’ll see them become less and less important.