Magazine article Marketing

Brands and the World Wide Web

Magazine article Marketing

Brands and the World Wide Web

Article excerpt

Content is what matters most, said the Web experts at Marketing's interactive forum

There's a window of opportunity for brands to get a foothold on the Internet - and it's closing fast.

Felix Verlade, of multimedia group Hyperinteractive, reckons the window will stay open for two years - and we're already several months into it.

Verlade was one of more than a dozen experts in new media and marketing who took part in a unique debate as part of the Multimedia '96 exhibition at London's Business Design Centre last week. Marketing and its sister title, Campaign, organised three days of live debate which covered every facet of marketing through new media.

Inevitably, much of the talk was of the Internet and, specifically, of the World Wide Web. With so many brands dipping a toe into the water, what would make the difference between a successful site and an also-ran? There were many answers (see our fact box for some of the best), but most important was 'content'.

Early efforts by brands often amounted to little more than an electronic brochure. But what incentive would a potential consumer have to visit a site like that? Brands need to offer value, which can mean merchandise but more often means information that can't be accessed as easily anywhere else.

That's where Verlarde's 'window' comes in: it's those brands which already have marketable alliances, such as Snickers and Euro '96, that can offer consumers something they'll really want to see - while at the same time getting a brand message across. There are still many areas of opportunity for brands to create sites with good content, but as more and more sponsorship deals are signed, the gaps get smaller.

So far, our panelists were in agreement. But there was fierce debate over how to get the best out of a Web site. Verlarde argued firmly that publicising a Web address (URL) in other media was a waste of time. If a site was good enough, people would find it, and dragging them in through heavy promotion simply muddied the water and made it difficult to discover how effective the site itself was. What use is an advertising medium that needs to be advertised itself, he argued?

Others disagreed strongly. In these days of integrated marketing, the World Wide Web has a specific role to play as an information carrier, to stand alongside other media such as press and TV. It makes perfect sense to publicise a Web address as the place to go for more detail. …

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