THE internet is set to gain ground as a marketing battleground. Marketing executives around the globe believe that in another three years, a majority of customers would use the Web to discover new products and services online and a third would use it to purchase goods.
In a McKinsey poll of over 410 executives from across the world and across sectors, over 50% of respondents said they expect their companies to get 10% or more of their sales from online channels by 2010.
About 11% said they would spend a majority of their advertising budget online by 2010. Already, a third of those advertising online spend over 10% of their ad budgets on the medium. Over 60% would spend at least 10% of their ad budget online in another three years.
Apart from traditional tools like e-mails and video ads, collaborative technologies, known as Web 2.0, like podcasts, online social networks and blogs, are also gaining popularity as marketing tools. E-mail was the preferred online marketing tool with 83% of the survey respondents saying they use it, followed by paid keyword search (63%) and video ads (33%). Among new technologies used for marketing were blogs (32%), podcasts (25%), online social networks (22%) and virtual worlds (13%).
“While online shopping is increasingly becoming popular, the growing popularity of social networking sites and blogs is another reason for marketers to tap the online segment. These sites are powerful tools to help consumers understand products and aid in their purchases,” says marketing consultant Harish Bijoor.
Whether it’s Intel establishing a presence in virtual world, Second Life, or Sunsilk’s Gang of Girls community site, the online turf is attracting greater attention from companies. Marketing execs say the Web will make a major difference in the first two stages of a consumer’s decision-making— product awareness and information gathering, and less in executing transactions or accessing services.
Experts say integrated offline and online marketing efforts are the way to go. “Most companies and their marketing divisions are now looking for a coherent web strategy and not just the Internet as an add-on advertising medium,“ says Future Brands chief Santosh Desai.