Maximum exposure

CEO Middle East examines the impact that increasingly unilateral internet access has had on global marketing strategies and which medium leads the way.

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By  Administrator Published  November 4, 2007

Internet penetration across geographical regions, age groups, genders, industry sectors and financial lines is now ubiquitous. So much so that, in the US, over 84% of males and 76% of females in the 18-24 age bracket have regular internet access. Even more interestingly these figures do not drop much below the halfway point until the over-65 age bracket. Although the US public is technologically ahead of that in many developing regions, the trend is predicted to increase exponentially as penetration becomes more widespread in formerly remote areas.

As a result, companies seeking to advertise in both the Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer sectors are undergoing a radical rethink as the medium supplants traditional methods of reaching out to the client base.

Despite the obvious immediate advantages of internet campangns to marketing organisations, more traditional forms are still proving popular.

The extent to which the internet has transformed consumer expectations is well illustrated by the findings of a recent survey; 70% of respondents said that they found online product information better than that available in magazines, and much easier to access. A staggering 95% also said that they would go to the internet first over other mediums to get product information.

It is not just advertising and marketing agencies that are noticing the trend. In September of this year the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA) launched a US$10m awareness campaign to celebrate newspapers as ‘champions of the public interest'. The audience for the campaign includes all readers and, perhaps crucially, advertising agencies and media planners.

"The trust readers place in us is one of our greatest assets," said CNA chairman Alan Allnutt at the announcement of the campaign. "And it shows in the numbers: in Canada's increasingly fragmented media environment, we are more than holding our own. However you spin it, the story in Canada is one of a vigorous news industry that is actually bringing more eyeballs to our content than ever before, across a mix of paid, free, print and digital platforms."

Admittedly media forums such as print and outdoor advertising are, as of now, unlikely to be completely phased out by marketers in favour of an all-technological approach. While internet use is increasing, it does so alongside other forms rather than in spite of them and tangible products such as newspapers or magazines, though fighting drops in sales, remain in popular use.

The internet has, however, provided a phenomenal boost to the Business-to-business marketing sector, which for a long time took a back seat to its consumer counterpart. It is a side of the industry that is now racing ahead, something that many analysts use to illustrate the positive effects of the online sector. Government agencies are the biggest target market of all - one study has shown the US government, through its various branches, to be the single biggest purchaser in America, regularly spending over US$300bn annually on goods and services.

As a further example global behemoths GE, IBM and DuPont spend an average of US$60m a day on products to support their operations, mostly through the information super-highway, cementing business marketing's position as the industry's new cash cow.

Despite these figures the impact should be inversed. While consumer marketing targets large swathes of the public, casting the net wider in the hopes of reaping the rewards of ‘cold' contacts, business marketing campaigns send out much more specific messages to targeted companies, usually with a higher percentage success rate - something that would appear to negate the advantage of internet mass mailing campaigns.

Conversely technological developments have meant that the consumer sector, far from relying on the pinpoint accuracy used by its business counterpart, can take an ever increasing number of forms.

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