Web Sites: If You Build It, Will They Come?
Romano, Catherine, Management Review
It's no news flash that companies are jumping on the World Wide Web at exponential speeds. Consider the progress that has been made in just two short years. In early 1994, no one knew what a Web site was. In early 1995, a handful of companies started showing up on the Net, and in 1996, there were more than 100,000 commercial sites.
But in 1996, companies also began to realize that, while the Internet was the place to be, it was not the immediate profit center they had envisioned. In fact, says John Nardone, director of media and research services at Modem Media in Westport, Conn., "there were Web sites up and no one was coming."
To attract attention to their pages, companies started buying advertising-placing banners on related sites. In theory, it was a good idea. Well-placed ads would certainly stimulate interest that would potentially generate revenue.
But there were drawbacks--namely the cost. Those selling ad space were the only ones really making any money. In addition to design and production costs, companies were now spending additional advertising dollars on the Web. And still they had very little to show for it. "All of the sudden, between on-line production costs and advertising, companies are spending real money. If they spend $1 million, what's their return on investment?" asks Nardone. "Our clients are spending significant money and they need answers to questions." Specifically, is their Web site effective? What should the Web site be accomplishing and, furthermore, does it?
Marketers have been trying to find the answers by applying traditional principles of market research to the new medium. Focus groups conducted in chat rooms and on-line surveys are the current mainstays, but a few adventurous companies are trying new methods. AT&T's college division wanted to do more than focus groups, so they put students in a "reaction theater," equipped with a large-screen monitor and reaction …
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Publication information: Article title: Web Sites: If You Build It, Will They Come?. Contributors: Romano, Catherine - Author. Magazine title: Management Review. Volume: 85. Issue: 9 Publication date: September 1996. Page number: 49+. © 1988 American Management Association. COPYRIGHT 1996 Gale Group.
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