So there are all those people out there, potential viewers, users and customers of every web site, and more and more of them are coming online everyday. According to surveyors Nietsen//NetRatings, by the third quarter of 2001 some 474 million people had Internet access at home.
Ultimately, there are two basic sources of viewers – or eyeballs, as online advertisers and media-owners know them: they can be established and regular web users who have made their online debut long ago, or they can be Internet novices who have to be ‘lured’ online with the promise of entertainment, cost savings or some other incentive which businesses, advertisers and marketers have endeavoured to do mainly by using offline channels, from posterboards to print advertising to TV commercials.
The difference, of course, is that the online business advertising offline not only has to attract people’s attention and sell the virtues of a site, but it often has to explain the properties of the internet as a medium. However this should become less and less a consideration as the web becomes an increasingly common part of everyday life. Many web marketeers will heave a sign of relief as that becomes more and more apparent. Dotcom horror stories revolve around misplaced marketing spend and the perception that several business plans for online-only businesses consisted of little more than spending money on high-profile offline marketing campaigns, with logos adorning everythingin the non-virtual world from taxis to billboards, creating little more than confusion in the general public.
Basic mistakes include launching the offline campaign before there is a fully functioning web site to direct potential customers to, as boo.com found out to its cost. The Swedish- based sportswear e-tailer kicked off its advertising campaign in cinemas and the style press some six months before its web site was launched. TV advertising by dotcoms has seen mixed results as well. British Internet Service Provider (ISP) breathe.net has attracted opprobrium for its hard-to- understand television campaign, run in an attempt to build a brand and through that its customer base. Centred around apparently everyday activities – as easy as breathing, it claimed – the campaign which first hit TV screens in 1999 was roundly criticised for not explaining what breathe was, let alone why viewers should be using the ISP, rather than, say, the UK’s largest such business, Freeserve.