The Do’s and Don’ts of Internet Marketing
August 17, 2016
The times, they are a-changing, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the technology industry. Digital media is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and, with it, internet advertising is thriving.
By Erin Gallagher, C’18
I created this graph using information from Internet Advertising Revenue reports, for every five years from its advent in 1996 to the most recent annual report from 2015. This chart shows that the amount of revenue companies have been gaining from internet advertising has been growing exponentially over the past twenty years . The 2015 report shows that last year, the amount of money spent because of digital advertising hit a record 59.55 billion dollars .
Companies are finding, however, that simply changing the platform on which they market their products is not necessarily enough to get their products into people’s lives, because they are also dealing with a new group of consumers: millennials. This ‘millennial’ generation is comprised of people born from the mid-eighties to 2000, and is best known for growing up with technology . As this generation continues to grow more financially independent, hitting milestones like college, first careers, and starting families, companies have been investing a great deal of time and money into figuring out how to best use the internet to market to them. Here are some of the main points that they have been finding.
Companies have found that they need to adjust how they present their content when bringing it to the internet. For instance, by purchasing the right to advertise their products on websites like Facebook or Twitter, or by sending information through email, companies can see exponential growth in knowledge about their product because consumers are able to share that content with others . The issue with that, however, is that consumers have to like the content enough to share it. In addition, the internet allows consumers to research a product extensively before they buy it by reading customer reviews, so they can decide whether it’s a good value before buying or recommending the product to others. This means that companies have to work harder to make the product not only appealing to the consumer, but good enough that they want to make others aware of it.
What, then, do companies have to do differently in order to make their advertisements appealing to millennials? A study, created by Yahoo and Tumblr in conjunction with Razorfish and Digitas, highlights the fact that the majority of consumers get their information from multiple platforms – spanning smartphones, tablets, and computers as well as television – so companies need to make sure their ads are available in a variety of forms . Additionally, once their ads are widely available, they should be succinct, entertaining, and informational as, the study continues, those browsing the internet want to engage with the company and the product, but only if the ad is compelling to them in the moment .
An important ‘don’t’ for companies advertising on the internet is making consumers think that they are careless with consumer privacy. Internet shopping allows for the collection and sharing of information about consumers on a massive scale, and consumers will avoid purchasing from companies that seem disreputable in that area . Companies should tread on the safe side here because, along with consumer wariness, there are also various guidelines and regulations put in place by the Federal Trade Commission, a government agency that regulates internet advertising . Companies that don’t comply with these and the many other laws that the FTC enforces will find themselves facing heavy consequences.
Other things that companies should definitely do, however, include taking advantage of the interactive nature of the internet. If a company has an account on a website such as Tumblr or Facebook, then not only can they advertise there, but by gathering followers, they can quickly and easily spread information to people who already have a perceived interest in what they’re selling. Of course, people often don’t see a point in following companies unless there is some kind of benefit to them. According to an SDL consumer experience research report, consumers are willing to connect with companies on these social media accounts if it means they get perks, such as discounts or better customer service . However, if a company can build a network like this, it allows consumers to not only share their advertisements, but also generate content about the product. For instance, a consumer will often choose to write a review of the product for other possible buyers if they are offered a discount for doing so . This is a popular practice on Amazon, the online shopping website. In addition, allowing consumers to be involved in things like design choice or how the product is marketed generates a lot more interest.
For advertisers, even if the marketing platform has shifted, the goal hasn’t. As there continues to be innovation in technology, advertisers will be right there to take advantage of every new way they can interact with consumers. The bottom line is, even though the times may change, someone will always be trying to sell you something.
 Internet Advertising Bureau, “Internet Advertising Bureau Announces 1996 Advertising Revenue Reporting Program Results,” Internet Advertising Bureau, 1996. [Online]. Available: IAB.com. [Accessed: 7/3/2016].
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