The Internet, like television and radio, is a technology that cannot help
but transform our way of life, and our way of doing business. Even those
businesses that manage to avoid using the Internet themselves will be unable
to avoid its effects.
The Internet's effects on marketing and advertising will be particularly
intense because the Internet is going to change the basic balance of power
in mass communications. Unlike any previous mass media, the Internet is
fundamentally decentralized, and so inexpensive that millions of people
can afford to send messages to virtually millions of other people. Any network
which replaces the Internet (or coexists with it) will have these same characteristics
because they are inherent in the technology. Mass communications is being
replaced by communication by the masses.
For marketing in general, the Internet offers a virtual Renaissance for
anyone with a product or service to sell. The Internet makes it possible
to give consumers detailed information on products that thirty second TV
commercials will simply never be able to provide, and at a price the networks
and newspapers will never match. In the future print and broadcast ads will
be designed just to get the consumer to request more information about the
product. The real selling won't start until the consumer logs on to the
Internet for the information.
Advertising agencies may have a tougher time with the Internet.
The Internet has enabled millions of people to get vast amounts of news
and information without having to see any advertising of any kind, and this
number is only likely to grow. As a result, the major television networks
and newspapers will find ratings continuing to erode, reducing the effectiveness
and desirability of buys. Furthermore, many clients will go online on the
Internet themselves, reducing their regular media buys to fund the effort.
Agencies will find themselves getting fewer dollars to spend on ads that
do less and less.
Those agencies willing to begin supporting Internet advertising now may
find a new source of profits. By going online on the Internet themselves,
agencies could charge their clients for making their advertising available
on the Internet, in effect becoming a network channel themselves. By monitoring
responses on the Internet to print and broadcast ads, agencies will be able
to evaluate performance of ads more effectively than ever before. Consumer
responses on the Internet will also provide valid quantitative data for
agencies to give to clients proving the effectiveness of their ads. Agencies
could also sell clients the names and addresses of the consumers who requested
more information via the agencies Internet connection.
The window of opportunity for agencies may not be open long.
Currently, there are thousands of corporations with Internet access, able
to send advertising data to 30 million people. However, a spokesman for
PSI, the leading Internet service provider, did not know of a single advertising
agency using their service for Internet access.
Historically, advertising agencies have been slow to adopt new digital technologies.
In the past, they could afford the delay. With the Internet, any delay could
be fatal. By the time agencies are willing and able to support advertising
on the Internet, they may find that their clients have already made other