.. y South African Web resources. This introduced a new aspect to Web advertising in South Africa as it means that local Web users no longer have to sift through a colossal amount of topical hypertext links from around the globe. Advertising on the South African Web has surely benefited from this development which makes South African relevant material far more accessible a nd therefore implies increases Web site hit rates. The search engine that was developed is called Ananzi and is currently the second most hit Web site in the country. Advertisers now have the opportunity of placing an icon on this page which immediately g ives them a formidable brand prescience (Williams, 1997).
A host of Web page advertising companies have sprung up in South Africa, including an upstart from Port Elizabeth, called Web Advertising, which have succeeded in forming a technology and capability sharing association with the United States advertising a gency Web advertising (Perlman, 1996). After unprecedented growth in the Internet in 1996, The Loerie awards included a new category in 1997 dedicated to Web creativity and corporate use of the Internet. 6) WEB ADVERTISING AND THE BUSINESS 6.1) Introduction Companies are increasingly recognising the importance of applying a full-systems perspective in using their communication tools. The aim is to set the overall communication budget and the right allocation of funds to each communication tool. Web advertis ing is becoming a more and more vital component of a firm’s advertising budget and therefore demands sensible and rational consideration and planning. The dynamics and relative novelty of Web advertising makes it crucial that the progressive business, which is proposing a Web advertising campaign, draw up a comprehensive advertising program.
It is vital for organisations that are considering an Internet marketing strategy to effectively coordinate each component. The bottomline is that organisations are putting themselves into the global marketplace. It is thus important for people to be crit ical of what works well and what meets their need with an Internet marketing strategy (Perlman, 1996). By using the standard advertising program process (Kotler, 1997) as a base, it is simple to outline the characteristics of the Internet which a business must take into consideration when planning a Web advertising campaign. The various steps involved in t he process of planning an advertising program are depicted in section 5.2.1 below and the specific characteristics of the Internet are superimposed into this framework in section 5.2.2 through section 5.2.7.
6.2) Developing and Managing an Advertising Program 6.2.1) Introduction to the Advertising Program Process In developing an advertising program, marketing managers must always start by identifying the target market and buyer motives. This applies, perhaps even more so, to the new advertising alternative represented by the Internet. The next step is to make fiv e major decisions in developing an advertising campaign, known as the five Ms: * Mission: What are the advertising objectives? * Money: How much can be spent? * Message: What message should be sent? * Media: What media should be used? * Measurement: How should the results be evaluated? 6.2.2) SWOT Analysis This step is a necessity when studying the feasibility of any intended business proposition and when the planning of that operation takes place. It involves a study of the firm’s internal strengths and weaknesses as well as the external opportunities and threats presented by circumstances in the environment. Web advertising provides a special challenge to marketers and planners due to its relative infancy, which brings previously un-encountered circumstances to the fore.
In terms of internal strengths and weaknesses, it is common practice at this stage in Web advertising for businesses to approach Internet service providers such as Adept Internet to manage the intricacies of advertising on the Internet. Therefore, issues concerning ability to actually place an effective advertisement on the Internet are shifted to specialised companies. According to Trafex managing director David Pegg ‘ ..few organisations have the technical skills and financial resources to establish a nd manage a sophisticated private trading network. It makes sense for companies to focus on their core business and let experts look after their trading partner connections.’ The study of external threats and opportunities in Web advertising largely involves market analysis and the attempt to identify the company’s typical customer, how they can be enticed to visit the company’s web site and how they can convinced to keep on v isiting the web site. Web site design companies and dedicated tracing companies who try to check the demographics of a visitor to site are coming to the fore, creating an entirely new industries in the process (Perlman, 1996).
Research in South Africa cla ssifies the Web user base as a niche, particularly from the point of view that the users tend to share characteristics that make them a targetable segment. Profile of the model Web user: Internet surfers would certainly be considered technologically progr essive, innovators and early-adopters. In terms of demographic profiles, the mean age of users worldwide is around 35 years, with approximately 50% having tertiary education and mostly earning A incomes. Male users have outnumbered female users in the pas t but gender parity has recently been reached (Rath, 1997). 6.2.3) Advertising objectives It is not uncommon with the advent of the Internet and the advertising possibilities that it provides that many companies become rash in their plans for Web advertising.
This can be disastrous without first analysing the objectives of a promotion via the web. The essence of the medium is still to be assessed in relation to the way business can be conducted. 6.2.4) How much can be spent? The direct set up costs to the marketer are likely to be in excess of R100 000 for an above-average site but, further to this cost, are costs if site maintenance, enhancements and server storage. The direct and indirect costs of Web site development are t herefore not insignificant, requiring considerable capital, time and energy to establish and to keep it alive (Rath, 1997). Smaller scale businesses, for example a coffee shop such as Fandango in Stellenbosch, which wishes to utilise Web advertising, can expect to pay from R1000 for web site design.
A site such as this could be linked to four other sites and also requires cons tant maintenance which often entails higher costs than the development of the Web site (J. Matthee, personal communication, 20 April 1998). 6.2.5) Message It should be stressed that Internet site development is part of the marketing function and does not fall within the realm of the Information Technology Department. Management is often tempted to allow the IT department to create a Web site because it woul d seem to offer the most cost-effective solution. However, the sites that have been designed by programmers are notable for their lack of creativity and generally do not entice the viewer.
This, in essence, revolves around the question of the Web sites me ssage (Rath, 1997). The principles that apply to media such as television and radio are generally applicable to message formulation on a Web site although valuable information that is dynamic seems to be the key (J. Matthee, personal communication, 20 April 1998). 6.2.6) Medium The Internet as an advertising medium has a number of inherent advantages and disadvantages which are discussed in section 7. 6.2.7) Measure and Evaluate Performance To quantify a Web sites contribution to revenue is often quite difficult. Where sales are generated more-or-less directly off the Net, the company’s return on investment is a matter of simple arithmetic.
However, where the company provides an added value service via the Net, the site’s contribution to the bottom line is far less easy to quantify (Rath, 1997). In terms of actual Web site design effectiveness, processes are still largely undefined. Many online organisations do exist, however, that monitor and provide Web site statistics, namely number of hits and how for how long visitors stayed at the site, for a fee (J. Matthee, personal communication, 20 April 1998). Furthermore, information can be obtained detailing the demographics of visitors to a Web sit although this is more difficult.
This can enable a company to measure the Web site’s effectiveness in terms of reaching the company’s target market. It is quite c ommon now for the Web itself to be used for research purposes with companies asking Web users for personal responses to products, sites and messages. This also provides feedback on the sites effectiveness and facilitates corrective action. 6.3) The Web site Itself 6.3.1) Web site Design Web site design is very much a grey area in terms of the fact that Web advertising is a relatively new addition to a business choice of promotional alternatives. However, guidelines do exist which can increase the chance of web site effectiveness. These i nclude questions such as: Who would use our service or product; how likely is our target market to be on the Net and who understands the culture of this new medium to create a site that encapsulates the brand, the culture and the practicality of web adver tising.
Other aspects are the understanding of the need to employ the expertise of a company that specializes in design for an interactive medium. Incorporating a wealth of useful information, interactive games and an ease of navigation through the site have also proved to increase Web site effectiveness (Joseph, 1997). Experience and creativity are most definitely necessary characteristics of a Web site designer who is usually employed by an Internet service provider such as Adept Internet. Feedback via methods that are mentioned in section 5.2.7 above could provide in dications of responses to Web site design. Once again, the principles applied in the television, radio and print media all apply to the design of a Web site. Fundamentals of consumer behaviour and psychology should be understood by anybody attempting to u ndertake commercial Web site design (J.
Matthee, personal communication, 20 April 1998). 6.3.2) Web Site Maintenance As with any medium of advertising, an inferior display can be detrimental to a firm’s image. However, Web site maintenance due to its reliance on a newly developed technology must receive special attention. This explains why a company may induce greater expenditure in the maintenance of a Web site than in the actual design and creation of the sit e. Maintenance of a Web site has two implications: Firstly, information supplied by the site must be dynamic, that is, it must be updated regularly in order to draw browsers on the Net to revisit the site; secondly, the site must be checked regularly to e nsure that no errors have occurred in the content as a result of any damage to data for instance (J.
Matthee, personal communication, 20 April 1998). An example of the second problem is clearly demonstrated by the printout of the coffee shop Fandango’s We b site in which the main picture failed to load. See figure 1 in section 5.4 below. (Take note: John Matthee, who originally designed the site and who, as an employee of Adept Internet, is hired to handle the maintenance of the site, has since rectified the problem.) 6.4) Profiles of Examples Example1: Fandango The Fandango Web site provides an example of the importance of site maintenance. See figure 1. Example2: SAA This provides a successful example of advertising by means of putting up an entire site which serves a brand building exercise.
The airline’s site took all-important factors outlined above in section 5.3.1 into consideration and the result is self-evident. The site won the prestigious Magellan award which is contested for by two million sites. 7.) THE INTERNET AS AN ADVERTISING MEDIUM 7.1) Advantages . The demographics of the average Internet surfer are attractive enough to warrant their inclusion as an important niche market (Rath, 1997). The Web can be transformed into a research tool, a brand builder and an advertising medium in one swoop, something not offered by other media (Joseph, 1996). Furthermore, unlike other media where the advertising agency is the only link between the client and the media owner, the Web allows the client to become the media owner.
From the company’s point of view, by buying into the technology itself, a company ha s the ability to enter the world of cyber marketing without the intervention of any intermediaries. Yet another competitive advantage of this medium is that it provides advertisers with reassuringly detailed demographics about who actually saw their advertisement, turning it into a marketing research as well as an advertising medium (Williams, 1996). Interactive media can operate in territories not covered by a vendor’s sales force. It can bring the showroom and the sales pitch to the buyers remote locations simply by dropping it in the post. 7.2) Disadvantages Lack of Intrusiveness The persuasive elements of the Internet advertisement usually lie at least one click away from the user’s current location and this requires the user to be sufficiently interested in the product or intrigued by the advertisement banner to click the to the advert. Limitations of Banners The Web has primarily been used for the presentation of text and graphics onto fairly small computer screens. This size limitation restricts the conventional Web ad to a banner asking the user to click ‘here’ for more information.
This in turn provides en dless creative restrictions (McDonald, 1997). Radical Fragmentation It is very difficult for any given site to draw enough attention to itself to attract an audience large enough to matter to an advertiser. 8) WEB ADVERTISING SCENARIOS FOR THE NEAR – TERM FUTURE Scenario #1: Web site Shakeout There are good reasons to question whether the Web advertising pie will prove large enough to support the numerous commercial Web sites that are counting on it for sustenance. Recent reports that some publishers are scaling back their web publishing ambit ions, or shutting down sites altogether lend credence to the notion that there will be significant ‘shakeout’ as commercial Web sites fail for lack of a viable business model (McDonald, 1997). Scenario #2:Advertising-content hybrids Advertisers who do not sell their products directly to consumers but still want to find a way to participate in interactive media will revert to a model that prevailed in the early days of television sponsorship.
By sponsoring a site that consumers value, the advertiser will hope to build positive associations for the brand. The communication limitations of banners will be overcome by surrounding content with imagery related to the sponsoring brand. Where practical sponsor-friendly content will be interle aved will brand-neutral content. Though there will be some reaction against this hybridisation on the part of media critics and consumers alike, the form will probably still flourish as the digital equivalent of the infomercial (McDonald, 1997). Scenario#3: Internet service provider’s provoke privacy whiplash New generations of Internet service provider will emerge that will provide an extraordinarily sophisticated database that captures information on how individual subscribers use the Internet.
This will enable the marketer to customise communications back into the box in the subscriber’s home and hereby the Web will be able to live up to its promises of one-to-one marketing (McDonald, 1997). Scenario#4: Advertisements get detached from the media Marketers will be able to sent targeted information to subscribers on their past Web usage patterns regardless of what current Web sites they are visiting. In effect, they will be able to sell the audience to advertising directly without the intermediary of the media (McDonald, 1997). 9) CONCLUSION The Internets Multimedia arm, the World Wide Web, can support both consumer marketing and trade marketing objectives. The Web is where all the commercial activity and its importance as a new medium has been recognised to the extent that it will be measure d in all US media research from this year. The Web provides a company with access to a global audience of consumers in their millions, and also to a very wide range of companies (Rath, 1997) The Internet has provided marketers with exciting and challenging advertising prospects.
There will undoubtedly be many lessons to be learned in the near-future concerning the intracacies and quirks of the medium. South Africa is technologically equipped to make full use of the Internet’s capabilities and South African marketer’s are provided with an opportunity to prove themselves to a very viable Internet market. In conclusion , the future of the Internet and Web advertising can be encapsulated through the words of John Matthee – ‘bigger and better, bigger and better..’. 10) References 1. David, F .
R (1997). Concepts of Strategic Management (6th ed.) . New Jersey : Prentice Hall 2. Direct Marketing . Supplement 96. Marketing Mix; Vol.
14, lss 6, p 1 – 43, Jul.; 1996 3. Douvos, E. Net Sales Marketing Mix; Vol. 14, lss 7, p14, Aug., 1996 4. Hopkins, B. Beyond direct marketing.
Market Mix; Vol. 14, lss 7,p10, Aug. 1996 5. Joseph, E, The wonderful wired world of Marketing; Internet: Technology. Marketing Mix, Vol.
14. Iss 7, p28 – 29, 31, 33 -34, Aug., 1996 6. Kotler, P, (1997). Marketing Management (9th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall 7.
Perlman,L. You get what you pay for: the bandwidth wars; Internet solution packages: Bundled solutions; If you’ve got it flaunt it: advertising: Internet. Finance week; Vol. 69; Iss 11, p 32, 34, June 13, 1996. 8. Rath, B.
Marketing on the Web: net return. Marketing mix. Vol. 14, lss 3, p 88 -89, APR, 1996. 9. Styen , C.
Introducing interactive. Marketing Mix. Vol. 14, Iss 7, p 14 Aug. 1996. 10. Swart, D.
Techno Blitz. Marketing Mix; Vol. 14, lss 7, p 11. Aug., 1996 11. Williams F, Interview: David Frankel MD.
at the Internet Solution Marketing Mix. Vol. 14, Iss 6, p 30 – 31, July , 1996.