According to the latest numbers, online advertising is about to break records, but there is still much room for growth. Zenith Optimedia, a leading global media service agency, has predicted a growth of 26.7% for global Internet advertising. The growth of the Internet ad market detailed in the June report is on the verge of breaking the 10% share barrier in 2008, a year early The growth is attributed in part to the fact that “Western advertisers are shifting even more of their budgets online, where the returns on their investment are obvious, and easy to quantify and fine tune.”
Yet, as Peter Whoriskey notes in his Washington Post article, “Advertisers slow to embrace online spending, “[t]he biggest U.S. advertisers…have not fully embraced the Web.” Whoriskey lists underwhelming figures: Advertising giant Proctor and Gamble, for example, spent less than 2% of its ad budget on the online advertising in 2007, according to a recent ranking by Advertising Age.
If big advertisers “haven’t shown up yet, at least not in force” online, as Whoriskey notes, what should companies conclude about the value of Internet advertising? If big advertisers haven’t shown up in force online, at least a basketful of popular brands have For instance, iContact, a leader in email marketing, has courted big name clients such as AT&T, Vonage, Symantec, International Paper, Remax and Viacom.
Perhaps the draw of email marketing is the fact that, like traditional methods of print advertising, it most often employs the techniques that are familiar to advertisers. Like a magazine or newspaper ad, an email ad can only appeal to the viewer who opts-in in the first place; i.e. a person must buy a magazine or newspaper before he or she can view the ads. A person must subscribe to the sender’s messages (often by using interest-specific check boxes like “Travel,” “Shopping,” “Restaurants” or “Sports”) for the ad to be effective; hence, targeted or demographic-specific email ads were created. With tools allowing them to be much more demographic-specific, online advertisers have found new ways to navigate some of the ambiguities of the Web.
These tools may be the answer to Whoriskey’s statement that “Penry Price, Google’s vice president of North American advertising sales, noted that although it is relatively easy to do demographic targeting in other media, it is more difficult to get precise information about online audiences for a given Web site.” In actuality, those who have utilized email marketing services have access to a tracked return on investment (ROI), targeted, specific demographics and support for optimizing ad space.
The accomplishments of email marketers may have prompted Zenith’s recent declaration—“Internet ads are cheap, easy to target and customize for particular audiences.” Utilizing the Internet to its full potential is always a process—historically, one that has been more rapidly embraced by newer, smaller companies who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by moving online.