Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Internet as an Advertising Medium

Throughout the history of Advertising there have been many mediums that have been used including print ads, radio and television, and events. The most recent medium to emerge is the Internet. Although the Internet is a relatively new creation it holds a huge amount of promise in its capabilities to reach a much larger demographic than print ads or even television.

The Internet is the fastest growing medium that we have ever seen. It achieved 50 Million users in its first 5 years, whereas it took TV 13 years to reach that figure and it took Radio 38 years. In North America roughly 70 out of 100 people use the Internet and on a global scale 1 Billion people are surfing the Internet every month. However because the Internet was only released to the general public in 1992 it is still a working development and the Internets full capabilities have yet to be discovered. As of today there is still 80% of the worlds population that does not use the Internet. And although the majority of this percentage is from Low Economically Developed countries, it means that the possibilities for global campaigns are still a far off thought. Joe Cappo says “So far, it has not been as effective an advertising medium as television, but its multidimensional adaptability supersedes that of any other medium.”

One of the major problems with the progress of Advertising on the Internet is the stigma created by spam emails. A lot of Internet users are overly weary of all Internet advertisements as they might be scams. These spam adverts normally consist of a message like “You are the Millionth viewer!!! Click here to claim your prize!” And because these spam messages are usually in the same places as genuine banner adverts, they all get mixed together and are equally ignored. So far the only real form of Internet advertising are Banners. These are small adverts which appear at the side, bottom or top of the internet page you are surfing. These banners can take many forms, ranging from just simple messages to interactive pieces. They are becoming increasingly interactive as agencies try and push the limits of what’s possible on the Internet. Some have started to use two banner spaces and have them interact with each other. For example there is an advert for the TV programme Fugitive Chronicles where there is a banner at the top of the page with a picture of a prison wall and then there is a banner at the side of the page about half way down selling car insurance with a picture of a car. A prisoner then runs across the top banner followed by two policemen and a helicopter. The prisoner then jumps from the top banner into the Car Insurance banner, steals the car and drives off. Other forms of banners are ones which totally dominate your page by interacting with it. For example, a promotion for the re-release of the film Back to the Future saw a banner with the famous car in it. When you clicked the car it drove out into your page and took you to an old newspaper page that contained stories relevant to the movie and played the trailer. These sorts of banners are very cool but agencies have to be carful with how they produce them. Banners that contain involuntary interaction can be very annoying, especially when you are surfing a site with a purpose. One example that I have found increasingly annoying is a pop-up banner by BT, promoting their Christmas programming, that would appear at the top of your page with a load musical chorus. The banner would then follow you as you scrolled down the page.

The Internet has also indirectly helped advertising. Researchers have previously explained that Word of Mouth (WOM) influences consumer behaviour, however consumers are increasingly turning to online WOM in the form of online forums and social networks. This helps the spread of advertising campaigns. In terms of Facebook, people will find an advert, usually a viral, and send it to a few of their mates as they want other people to know about it. Their friends will then send it to someone else. This creates a chain reaction and soon an ad can become way bigger than if it was solely showed on TV. Youtube has a huge part to play in this as you can pretty much find every video you can think of, including most adverts. Through this process ads can obtain cult status, such as the Heineken “Walk-in Fridge” ad or the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Be” ads. There are also a lot of specialist blogs that help collect relevant material all in one space. This helps people find adverts that they might not have stumbled upon during browsing the Internet. Examples of these blogs would be Bannerblog, Adverblog, IBelieveInAdvertising and AdRants. In these blogs people can discuss adverts they liked or disliked and this helps WOM.

In conclusion, the Internet looks set to become a leading medium for agencies to produce adverts. Be it through banners, social sites such as Facebook and Twitter or viral ads on Youtube. Advertising agencies are increasingly shifting their budget towards Internet advertising and the Internet has become an essential part of an agencies advertising strategy. Increasingly an ad campaign will contain a TV advert, Print ads and some type of Internet banner. The Internet as an advertising medium is still in its early stages and it has not become a major priority over the likes of TV. However the Internet is progressing at an astonishing rate and soon agencies will be able to use technology in new and exciting way. The truth is that no one knows how far the Internet will take advertising and whether it will re-invent it or damage it, but in the next 10 years the face of advertising will be dramatically different.


· Joe Cappo (2003) The Future of Advertising

· Gerard Prendergast and David Ko (2010) Online word of mouth and consumer purchase intentions

· www.bannerblog.com.au

· http://www.bizwaremagic.com/quick_internet_history.htm

· http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/15-facts-on-global-internet-usage/

· http://www.buzzle.com/articles/internet-facts.html


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