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Multimedia and the Internet

by Glen Emerson Morris
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With a bandwidth barely able to support plain text E-mail, the Internet may seem the last media likely to support multimedia advertising, but it is already proving to be a key player.

While it lacks the bandwidth to distribute a complete multimedia presentation, the Internet can easily distribute part of a presentation. Multimedia is by definition several media coming together in a single presentation. By using a network connection (like the Internet or a local BBS) to carry the limited data traffic of a customer's orders, and a CD-ROM to store the data that takes up all the space, like high resolution full color graphics, audio, and video, the resulting multimedia not only out performs most current media, but offers new capabilities as well.

The reason for this is that Network/CD based multimedia advertising combines several different media in a way that preserves the best qualities of each, without the disadvantages. Network E-mail is cheap and fast, but it lacks visual impact. Video and print have visual impact but are expensive to produce and distribute, and can become dated within hours. The particular alchemy of network/CD multimedia produces advertising that is fast, cheap, has a high visual impact, and will always have the latest prices, specs, and availability.

Network/CD multimedia is a particularly profitable combination because it is based on two of the most cost effective media technologies known. With CD-ROMs costing less than a dollar to produce in production runs of a little as 2,000 units, CDs now have a significant price advantage over the combination of catalogs and video tapes needed to carry the same content. Network service providers, ranging from the local phone companies to CompuServe, are in a price war competing for everyone with a modem, so communication prices will continue to drop, for some time.

Bergen-Brunswick, the second biggest pharmaceutical distributor in the US, is already using a multimedia system exactly like this to support thousands of the pharmacies it supplies. The multimedia system, called AccurSource, serves as a complete interface between customer and business. Each pharmacy participating receives a Macintosh LC575 with a built in screen, CD-ROM, modem, stereo speakers, and the latest AccuSource CD. It provides a detailed list of every product the company sells, makes elaborate multimedia sales pitches for products, and makes it as easy to select and order as clicking a mouse, literally.

The advantages of a Network/CD multimedia system to a distributor like Bergen-Brunswick are multi-faceted. Since the customer, in this case the pharmacist, enters their order directly into the distributor's computer, there is no data entry labor cost for the distributor, or time delay in getting the order to the warehouse floor. Also, it is far easier and cheaper to distribute a catalog on CD-ROM than on paper; production costs are less, and so are postage and handling. The CD can include video presentations that a catalog can't, providing a higher level of persuasion. In addition, the readily available direct connection to the distributor always provides the customer with the latest prices, products, and availability.

Advertisers don't need to wait for the high bandwidth of the Information Highway to send multimedia advertising to their customers. The fastest growing segment of computer sales is the home market, and most of the sales are top end multimedia systems--exactly the kind of configuration needed to play network/CD multimedia advertising. All the necessary technology is already in place; it just needs to be used.

Copyright 1994 - 2010 by Glen Emerson Morris All Rights Reserved

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