Japanese ads downplay URLs, encourage searches

Cabel Maxfield Sasser recently went to Japan and noticed an interesting trend in advertising there: search boxes have replaced URLs.

Picture 1-160 Within minutes of riding on the first trains in Japan, I notice a significant change in advertising, from train to television. The trend? No more printed URL's. The replacement? Search boxes! With recommended search terms!

It makes sense, right? All the good domain names are gone. Getting people to a specific page in a big site is difficult (who's going to write down anything after the first slash?). And, most tellingly, I see increasingly more users already inadvertently put complete domain names like "gmail" and "netflix" into the Search box of their browsers out of habit – and it doesn't even register that Google pops up and they have to click to get to their destination.