Home / Marketing lessons from WebP launch

Google just introduced WebP, a new image format which offers 40% smaller files compared to JPEG (currently dominant format).

There was inevitable backlash. Some


that in order to become popular, WebP must
offer more value by means of more features.

Those people, as well intentioned as they might be, are missing an important marketing truth:

Focus matters

It might or might not be accidental, but Google’s messaging regarding WebP is very simple:

  • WebP is a JPEG replacement that offers smaller files
  • smaller files make websites faster
  • therefore WebP makes websites faster

In marketing, this is called a positioning statement and as far as positioning statements go, it’s a very good one.

Users of the web do care about the speed which means that web developers also care about the speed.

Google advertises only one quality of WebP (making web faster) and they focus on a quality that everyone cares about.

Lack of focus is deadly

Those advocating adding more features to WebP haven’t learnt from the past. We already have formats that are superior to WebP in terms of features (JPEG2000, Microsoft’s JPEG XR).

Both of them failed in the marketplace. It turns out that no one cared enough about those additional features to displace JPEG.

However, those formats have never been marketed as making web faster (even though technically they would do at least as good a job at it as WebP).

It’s too late to rebrand JPEG2000 or JPEG XR. WebP might or might not get adopted, but Google is doing the right thing by not complicating the product and marketing strategy by adding more features.

If you sell something, you should take those ideas to heart.

In marketing, lack of focus is bad. People are not very responsive to complex ideas. Your product might have many features worth talking about but if you try to talk about all of them, you’ll fail.

People will end up with an impression that your product is complex and less important features will divert their attention from the features that they care about the most.

You need to carefully limit the number features you talk about.

If you want to watch masters of positioning at work, watch any of the Apple keynotes in recent years. You’ll notice that even though most of their products, like iPhone, offer hundreds of features, Apple only talks about selected few, and they have a benefit of captivated audience willing to listen to them for more than an hour.

People will not give your website or product that much of an attention, so you need to be even more careful in selecting the features you want to market to your potential customers.

Law of focus is law 5 in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing