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Introduction

Marketing opportunities
in the digital world

G. Reza Kiani

The author
G. Reza Kiani is Research Associate at Henley Management
College, Greenlands, Henley-on Thames, Oxfordshire, UK.
E-mail: rezak@henleymc.ac.uk
Abstract
With the birth of the World Wide Web, the current decade has
witnessed tremendous evolution in the media environment,
and indicates that electronic commerce, defined as the
electronic exchange of information, goods, services, and
payments, has finally come of age. Despite the fast-growing
popularity of electronic commerce and presence of many
companies on the virtual market, the opportunities offered by
this new environment are still unknown. Many marketers still
approach the Web based on the traditional mass communication model. The paper addresses the opportunities offered by
the Web to marketers. Its approach considers the Web as a
two-way communication model in which four different
communication states can take place. The paper also suggests the necessity of new concepts and models for marketers
to manage their Web sites, and then presents the opportunities supporting the marketers objectives in the new environment.

Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy


Volume 8 Number 2 1998 pp. 185194
MCB University Press ISSN 1066-2243

The greatest invention of mankind is language;


an invention in which all kinds of people have
contributed over a long time and that enables
them to communicate their feelings and
thoughts. If that is the case, the second greatest
invention is coming of age; that is the International communication network, whose last manifestation is the World Wide Web (WWW). Language gives human beings the possibility of communication and the Web is removing its biggest
physical barrier, that is distance. This second
invention which is the result of thousands of
inventions and discoveries is a continuous growing and developing phenomenon, as language is.
More and more businesses are discovering
the WWW as a fundamental communication
tool used to conduct daily business. Large and
small companies are embracing the Web to
communicate with current and potential customers abroad through the Internet with the
same cost and ease as in their countries (e.g.
The Project 2000 Group[1]; Armstrong and
Hagel, 1996; Cyber Atlas, 1996; Hagel and
Lansing, 1994; Hamill and Gregory, 1997;
Hoffman and Novak, 1996; Rayport and
Sviokla, 1994; 1995; Quelch and Klein, 1996;
Schwartz, 1997). Businesses can create and
transmit advertisements on the Web that can be
accessed by anybody with a computer equipped
with appropriate software. Such a convenience
and marketing efficiency, both for the advertiser
and the potential customer, is making the Web
popular for marketing practices all over the
world. According to Rayport and Sviokla
(1995), Every business today competes in two
worlds: a physical world of resources that managers can see and touch and a virtual world
made of information. The latter has given rise to
the world of electronic commerce.
The Internet and the Web, the fastest growing and most innovative components of that
particularly, have some unique and powerful
characteristics that make them central to a
paradigm shift in marketing (e.g. Armstrong
and Hagel, 1996; Blattberg et al., 1994; Glazer,
1991; 1993; Hoffman and Novak, 1996;
Kierzkowski et al., 1996; Martin, 1996; Pine,
1992; Rayport and Sviokla, 1995; Schwartz,
1997). The shift from one-way to two-way
information flows between producers and

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Marketing opportunities in the digital world

Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy

G. Reza Kiani

Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

consumers (Blattberg et al., 1994), from the


conventional One-to-Many communication
model to the Many-to-Many model (Hoffman and Novak, 1996), from supply-side to
demand-side thinking (Rayport and Sviokla,
1995), and the shift to the fifth phase of
marketing evaluation, characterised by differentiated products in decentralised markets
(Blattberg et al., 1994). Figure 1 shows this
paradigm shift in different aspects.

A model to approach the marketing


opportunities
The appearance of the new marketing environment is aligned with the evolutionary progress
of the marketing functions from a mass-market
model, One-to-Many using the word of Hoffman and Novak (1996), to more interactive
individualisation of goods, services and interactions. According to Blattberg et al. (1994, p.
27), in the new environment, marketers are able
to consider consumers individually, customise
their services and products, and establish
dialogues with consumers rather than talk at
them. This is due to the unique and powerful
characteristics of the WWW.

Figure 1 The new marketing paradigm shift in different directions: from


marketplace to marketspace
From

To

Sources

One-To-Many
communication
model

Many-To-Many
communication
model

Hoffman, and Novak


(1996)

Mass marketing

Individualised
marketing

Martin (1996)

Dialogue

Blattberg and
Deighton (1996)

Communication

Martin (1996)

Supply-side
thinking

Demand-side
thinking

Rayport and Sviokla


(1995)

Megabrand

Diversity

Martin (1996)

Centralised market

Decentralised market

Blattberg, et al.
(1994)

Customer as a
target

Customer as a partner

McKenna (1995)

Segmentations

Communities

Armstrong and Hagel


III (1996)

Monologue
Branding

The opportunities which the Web, as a two-way


communication channel, provides can be discussed in four logical situations: company-toconsumer; consumer-to-company; consumerto-consumer; company-to-company.
Figure 2 illustrates the logical pattern of the
communications among companies and consumers through the WWW.
In an interactive media, a marketing activity
can employ one or a combination of the above
communication patterns. The important point
here is that what causes the powerful opportunity in an interactive medium, relative to one-way
medium, is the ability to provide a mutual communication. Given this, the above categorisation
attempts to clarify all possible communication
patterns. I follow this categorisation to see how
marketing can benefit from the new opportunities provided by the WWW, from these four
angles. Figure 3 illustrates the logic of these
communication patterns by emphasising the
mutuality behind them.

Marketing opportunities on the Web


Company-to-consumers
This side of the communication on the Web
views the content delivery. According to
Morgan (1996), marketers can use interactive
media to provide higher services and lower cost
by delivering up-dated product- and non-product-related information. Comparing the WWW
with traditional marketing communication
channels, according to Ellsworth and Ellsworth
(1997), the Web is a faster, less expensive,
highly immediate communication, round the

Figure 2 Various possible solutions in a two-way communication medium

Consumers

Company

Source: the author

Source: Kiani (1997)

186

Consumers

Company

Consumers
To
Consumers

Company
To
Consumers

Consumers
To
Company

Company
To
Company

Marketing opportunities in the digital world

Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy

G. Reza Kiani

Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

Figure 3 Illustration of different communication patterns in interactive


environment

Company

Consumers

Consumers

Other
companies

Source: the author

clock and global. It offers wider and deeper


material and richer advertisement content.
To deliver an advertising content to consumers, the Web can do the things that the
traditional mass media advertising cannot. The
basic advantages to businesses using the Web
are described within the following sections.
Addressability
Hammond et al. (1995) suggest that One of the
benefits of Internet advertising is that each time
a user connects to a Web site, the site provider
has a record of the users electronic address, so
companies can build lists of early adopters who
browse the Internet. The Web is able to contact the customer uniquely in time and space.
The new interactive communication system,
the fifth medium (newspapers, magazines,
radio, and television are the other four), has one
important advantage which is memory.
According to Stewart and Ward (1993), what an
individual has acquired, in terms of information, products or services, can be captured for
future use by the marketer.
Blattberg and Deighton (1991) argue that
addressable marketing is not new; the mail and
telephone have been also the addressable tools
in marketing for many years. What is new is
low-cost and high-speed electronic management of the dialogue. The cost of holding a
consumers name, address, and purchase

history on-line has fallen by a factor of 1,000


since 1970 and is continuing to fall at this rate.
Electronic marketers can do what a salesforce
can with much more flexibility and better
memory.
According to Blattberg and Deighton (1991),
addressability of the Web provides the opportunity for marketing to create individual relationships, managing markets of one, and addressing
each in terms of its stage of development. In
essence, it represents the opportunity to customise and tailor either the product or the
marketing effort to one consumer at a time. On
seeing an advertisement, a consumer would be
able to press an icon to request more information or to order the product or service. Therefore, marketers could monitor all such activities
to assess which kinds of advertising, in which
kinds of venues, work best with which kinds of
subscribers (Hagel and Lansing, 1994).
According to Kierzkowski et al. (1996),
addressable communication gives the marketer
two important opportunities, which are to: learn
about an individual consumer in the course of
continued interaction; and deliver either a
personalised service or product, or a communication about the availability of such a personalised service or product.
They point out one of the on-line publications, as an example, which delivers a personalised on-line newspaper compiled on the basis
of a users specified interests, published for a
circulation of one.
Blattberg and Deighton (1991) identify the
fundamental impacts of this strong ability of the
Web on the marketing rules:
A database of transaction histories will be the
primary marketing resource of many firms,
determining what kind of product they can
deliver and what market they can serve. Far
more directly than the traditional media,
customers will shape the firms that serve
them.
Marketing will be more accountable. The unit
of measure will be the lifetime value of each
customer to the firm. Marketing efficiency
will be measured by changes in the asset value
of the firms customer base over time.
Distributors steady erosion of manufacturer
power will slow and may even reverse, as
manufacturers take back functions from

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Marketing opportunities in the digital world

Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy

G. Reza Kiani

Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

other channel members and use electronic


data systems to administer them.
Niches too small to be served profitably
today will become viable as marketing efficiency improves. Communications will
reach small or diffuse targets with increasing
precision, and feedback on marketing actions
will become more accurate.
The discipline of marketing will begin to feel
more like engineering. Marketing managers
will need to learn statistical modelling of
dynamic systems if they are to interpret
market responses to interactive marketing
initiatives.

thousands of items, such as compact discs or


books. The catalogue can also be associated with
relevant free information and services for the
consumer who visits the page. For example:
BMGs Classical Music[2] differentiates itself
from other compact disc catalogues by providing
considerable information on composers, instruments and periods. A user can search information, say about Mozart symphonies, and then be
offered a selection of available discs (OKeefe,
1995). Another good example in this respect is
Amazon Bookstore[3] offering a lot of relevant
and interesting information such as: best-sellers,
award winners, titles in the news, and comments
of various sources on the book which customers
are probably interested.

Flexibility
As many authors (e.g. Hagel and Lansing, 1994;
OKeefe, 1995) noted, the Web, for marketing, is
much more flexible than the traditional massmedia. A Web page can be considered as an
electronic billboard, electronic advertisement, or
electronic catalogue that provides information on
products or services plus contact information for
interested consumers. But a virtual advertisement or catalogue is much flexible than a physical
advertisement or catalogue. It can gather fresh
and updated information based on the direct
feed-back received from consumers. A virtual
catalogue can be gradually developed and organised based on the actual interest of consumers.
Some advantages of virtual catalogues compared
to their physical counterparts are: a company can
immediately add new items to a catalogue, without waiting for the next catalogue printing; items
which sell out but cannot be replenished can be
removed immediately this is especially useful
for items whose supply is naturally limited, such
as antiques or rare automobile parts; catalogues
can be customised for specific customers and
locations; paper catalogues are expensive to
change, while electronic catalogues are not; and
mass distribution of large paper catalogues is
expensive, while electronic catalogues can be
distributed globally with almost no charge.
The catalogue can be linked to inventory
data, so that the user can see if an item is immediately available or not. Much more information
in a better presentation about products or services can be provided for consumers.
The consumer can be provided with search
facilities to locate items quickly . This is especially useful for producing catalogues with

Accessibility
The WWW provides the opportunity for companies to increase their hours of business on a
global spectrum. Instead of a typical eight-hour
day, businesses have increased their opportunities by providing 24-hour access for branch
offices, business contacts, and shoppers access
that is important in conducting business across
different time zones or internationally. Expanding access indeed increases the number and
coverage of potential customers.
Compared with the traditional media, access
opportunities on the Web are equal for all players, regardless of size. It is especially beneficial to
smaller companies which want to expand their
businesses globally, but do not have the capital
and resources to do so. According to Rayport
and Svikla (1995), the virtual value chain redefines economies of scale, allowing small firms
to achieve low unit costs for products and services in markets dominated by large companies.
The Web access delivers a company with an
opportunity to implement highly cost-effective
vehicles, not only for their own marketing and
customer support needs, but also for positioning themselves globally. Moreover, the Web
helps ease doing business overseas by avoiding
regulations and restrictions that companies
must follow when they are physically present in
other countries.
Consumers-to-company
The two-way communication environment
turns traditional principles of mass-media
advertising assuming a passive and captive

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Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

consumer. Consumers can actively choose


whether to approach firms through their Web
sites (Benjamin and Wigand, 1995; Blattberg et
al., 1994; Hoffman and Novak, 1996;
Kierzkowski et al., 1996). According to Blattberg
et al. (1994), the customer is now an active
participant, and a partner in the production.
Therefore, motivation of consumers to response
and interact is a key point of virtual marketing in
such a marketing environment. According to
Benjamin and Wigand (1995, p. 62), Consumers full access to the market will also be an
issue that policy makers need to explore. In
other words, in an interactive, two-way,
addressable world, it is the consumer and not
the marketer who decides with whom to interact, what to interact about, and how to interact
at all. Marketers have to earn the right to the
digital relationship, and they have to do so by
continuously enhancing the value they offer
consumers (Kierzkowski et al., 1996, p. 20).
Marketing today has learned that the probability of purchase by a repeat buyer is much
greater than that by a randomly mailed household who has never been a customer. Once an
individual or firm becomes a customer, the
marketer begins to collect information to
manage the relationship. For example, identifying the products already being bought and
determining the customers response to a specific promotion. Profiling allows firms to learn
more about the consumers interests and products or services desired (Blattberg et al., 1994).
As such, the opportunity for customer interaction, as Hoffman and Novak (1996) suggest,
is unprecedented. The opportunity can be
utilised in numerous ways, for example: the
design of new products; the development of
product and marketing strategy; and the innovation of content.
According to Blattberg et al. (1994), for
many firms participation of customers in the
process of production is impossible, because the
ability to identify the customer and tailor the
product or service does not exist. Companies
have to create the ability now if they want to
have repeat buyers. To date, the customer
repeats purchases due to the product or service
offers good value, not because it meets his or her
specific needs.
To meet individualised user needs efficiently,
Blattberg et al. (1994) argue that the firm must

be able to create modular products or services


which allow the user to then participate in the
development of the specific product using a
menu of options. For instance, when purchasing
a washing machine, consumers want numerous
options: capacity, placement of door, style,
colour and so on. The company should be able
to assemble these components quickly and at
low cost so that the customer can have the
product or service desired at a reasonable price.
In this respect, Blattberg and Deighton (1991)
suggest that production skills of firms are
needed to tailor product to specific customers.
As the product or service becomes
customised, the consumer faces serious problems to identify the product or service s/he
desires. To deal with this difficulty Blattberg et
al. (1994) suggest that it will be necessary for
the firm to develop integrative informationprocessing systems to simplify the consumers
decision process. The system should allow the
customer to enter specific desired characteristics and trade-offs and then design the product.
If the product costs too much, the consumer
can look at the related options to reduce it. In
this respect, questioning the consumer must be
done in simple terms and the expert system
must convert the information into a product
(e.g. insurance policy) desired for the consumer.
Consumers-to-consumers
According to Kierzkowski et al. (1996), many
consumer marketers approach interactive media
in the same way that they might approach traditional media involving one-way communication
from the marketer to the consumer, while interactive media allows marketers to establish a
dialogue and benefit from many possibilities
which this media can provide.
Although almost all pre-eminent marketing
authors (e.g. Blattberg and Deigton, 1991;
Kierzkowski et al., 1996; McKenna, 1995)
believe that in the new marketing approach, the
customer is seen as an individual market not as
part of a segment from many authors view
points we can see a new form of segmentation in
the market. This is not to say that the new marketing paradigm has not focused on individual
customers, but it is to say that the segmentation
approach is not perishing at all. What is happening is a replacement with a new form of segmentation. Armstrong and Hagel (1996) suggest

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Marketing opportunities in the digital world

Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy

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Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

that commercial success in the on-line market


will belong to those firms that organise electronic communities to meet multiple social and
commercial needs. According to Kierzkowski et
al. (1996, p. 17), The more consumers invest
time and develop familiarity in interacting with
others, the less likely they are to start building
these virtual relationships again elsewhere. This
explains the growing emphasis among digital
marketing application developers on communities of interest. Armstrong and Hagel (1996)
categorised the various types of electronic communities into four distinct categories: communities of transaction facilitate buying and selling
of services and products and deliver the relevant
information (e.g. car caring); communities of
interest bring together participants who interact
with one another on specific topics (e.g. gardening); communities of fantasy where they create
new environments, personalities, or stories; and
communities of relationship around certain life
experiences that often are very intense and can
lead to the information of deep personal connections (e.g. cancer forums).
Usually marketers focus narrowly on consumers needs within the parameters of their
product category; at best, a marketer may
analyse a few related categories. But what
should be done is to analyse the business of
companies in unrelated industries that are
targeting the same customers.
The concept of interactivity can be clarified
better by the notion of the on-line communities.
Armstrong and Hagel (1996) noted the examples showing the interactivity of consumers in
on-line communities. In an Internet-based
community for parents, for instance, parents
can turn to the community for advice on such
matters as whether an infant should be put on a
schedule for meals and sleep. This Parents
place, which is linked with some other relevant
and exciting sites, also has a shopping mall
equipped with catalogues, stores, and services
such as on-line diaper ordering. Price and selection being equal, it is more likely that parents
will shop at Parents place than at a competing site that allows only for transactions.
However, in marketing, electronic communities will slowly emerge as a dominant paradigm
in the near future. In this respect, one that is well
routed in physical shopping is the notion of
clubs. People come together in clubs to purchase

items where the transaction costs make individual purchase prohibitive (e.g. some stocks and
bonds), or to learn more about products and
have options to purchase unusual or attractively
priced selections (e.g. car or antique clubs).
Such clubs can naturally find a home on the
Web. Manufacturers could develop such clubs as
a way of getting closer to consumers, or sponsor
existing clubs (Armstrong and Hagel, 1996).
Company-to-company
The rule of the game in the interactive media is
changed and it is expected more co-operation
will take place among companies in the future.
The new environment will bring some forms of
interdependency among companies which can
be matched better with virtual circumstances.
According to Kierzkowski et al. (1996), the
most significant challenge for digital marketers
will be to manage the interdependencies
between their digital marketing efforts and the
rest of the organisation and existing outside
partners, such as distributors and retailers.
In such this complex environment a key
success factor in corporations is having the set
of core competencies needed for excellence.
That set of competencies is often too much for
one firm, therefore companies need partners.
The WWW facilitates partnering. In such circumstances, a small company can be part of a
group that gives it access to more customers or
new markets. The company appears to have
larger size or greater capability and hence be
more likely to gain a sale (Martin, 1996).
At the present time the main purpose of
companies in communicating on the Web is to
increase traffic to their sites. There are three
different ways to make traffic in a Web site: link
from other sites; link to other sites: and
going under one roof.
Link from other sites
Businesses in physical shopping malls benefit
from the traffic flow of multitudes window
shopping. The same can be true on-line. To be
most effective, a Web site should be used in
conjunction with several active forms of marketing which it will be examined briefly below:
To advertise the web site to Web search
engines that index the Web, such as
Yahoo[4], Lycos[5], Altavista[6], and Info
Seek[7]. There are some services providing a

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Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

How to advertise in the marketspace:


the rules of the game

way to submit information to many of the


indexes (e.g. Submit it[8] provides the
service to submit information to about 15 of
the most important indexes).
To advertise to the industry-wide linking
Web pages and any industry-related pages.
For example, the members lists of the trade
association. Several on-line craft centres, for
example, offer free links to other crafters,
such as Virtual Trade Show[9].
To become active in the many Internet news
groups and mailing lists; the groups that are
most likely to be frequented by the potential
customers groups.
Link to other sites
Unlike direct and traditional mass marketing,
digital marketing requires consumers to voluntarily visit a WWW site. Hence, marketers in this
environment need actively to attract users.
According to Kierzkowski et al. (1996), linking to
other sites typically is one of the ways to make the
site more interesting and to attract more potential
consumers. It can be done by linking to sites
giving more relevant information to the products
or services like the type of information or news
which may be of consumers interest such as
What is New, weather reports, TV programs,
or entertainments services like Whats Cool.
A number of well-financed corporate Web
sites offer an entertaining fare which changes
constantly. While most small business Web marketers cannot afford to compete; they have the
chance to provide up-to-date information about
the industry, and keep their sites fresh by linking
to some other sites (Kierzkowski et al., 1996).
Going under one roof
The emergence of virtual malls and bazaars can
be seen as an opportunity for companies to be
gathered virtually under one roof to benefit
from the traffic flow of mall and bazaar visitors
(Hoffman et al., 1995; OKeefe, 1995).
Malls and bazaars take the business that fits
their particular policy. Some admit particular
industries and some have a wider policy to
admit businesses. The Internet Mall[10], as
an example, has located about 3,000 businesses
under one roof.
There is no published report to prove significantly the effects of the above methods in efficiency of a site to date.

One of the earliest and still most commercial


activities on the Internet is advertising. Until the
early 1990s, applications on the Internet were
essentially non-graphical, and all Internet-based
marketing activities were performed by sending
plain text messages on the Internet. The birth of
the WWW in 1993 offers opportunities which
were unimaginable during the text-based era of
the Internet. The WWW allows hypertext navigation (so-called point-and-click) as well as
graphical displays. Marketing activities on the
Internet are no longer limited to plain text
messages (Poon and Jevons, 1997). Despite all
the exciting marketing potential offered by the
Web, according to Kierzkowski et al. (1996),
many marketers approach interactive media in
the same way they might approach traditional
media like television, magazines, or even direct
marketing channels. There are fundamental
differences between these two media. The
traditional media involves one-way communication from the marketer to customers, which is
highly unfocused, while interactive media allows
marketers to establish a dialogue with individual
consumers.
Thus, marketers must carefully consider the
ways in which advertising and communication
models can be adapted and reconstructed for the
interactive medium (Hoffman and Novak, 1996).
Models for advertising on the Web
The abilities of the new marketing medium
implies the necessity of new models for marketing in the new environment. The new marketing
models should consider all opportunities which
the interactive media can provide for marketers
and be well-matched with the new marketing
paradigms. Some authors responded this necessity and provided new conceptual frameworks
for marketing communication on the Web (e.g.
Berthon et al., 1996a; 1996b; Kierzkowski et al.,
1996; Pitt et al., 1996).
Kierzkowski et al. (1996) present a model
around five recommendations which they
believe are essential factors for success in digital
marketing. These are:
(1) Attract users. The policy of build it and
they will come might work in the marketplace but it does not in the marketspace.
The consumers should be attracted to the

191

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

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site. This needs some considerations such


as having a mnemonic address for the
site, and linking from other sites.
Engage users interest and participation.
Having attracted users, marketers should
engage users interest and participation to
achieve an interaction or a transaction. This
can happen by providing customers with
convenience-oriented content, communities
of interest, links to other sites, and so on.
Retain users and ensure they return to an application. Once the consumers have been drawn
to the site and they have been engaged with
suitably interactive and valued content, the
marketer must make sure that they keep
returning to the site. This can take place by
keeping the site fresh through continuously renewing content and/or providing content
that is inherently changeable on an ongoing
basis, such as weather reports.
Learn about their preferences. This is the stage
at which marketers should learn about
consumer demographics, attitudes, and
behaviours. Demographic and attitudinal
information may come in the form of e-mail
communications to marketers, opinions
volunteered on bulletin boards or information gathered in surveys, questionnaires, or
registration processes. Behavioural information can be gathered from transaction
records or click-stream which track how
users behave in a site.
Relate back to them to provide the sort of customised interactions. This represents the
opportunity to customise the interaction
and tailor either the product or the marketing effort to one consumer at a time. As a
two-way and addressable communication
channel, interactive media provides an
unprecedented opportunity for marketers to
relate to a consumer. This may take place
by gathering the necessary information from
an individual consumer and delivering either
a personalised service or product, or a communication about the availability of such a
personalised service or product.

Berthon et al. (1996a; 1996b) developed a new


concept, named Conversion efficiency, to
assess the efficiency of a commercial site. The
concept is based on an implicit model which
recommends some considerations necessary for
commercial advertising on the Web. The model
presents five sequential stages/phases suggesting
the flow of surfer activity on a Web site. These
stages are: awareness, attraction, visit/contact,
purchase and re-purchase (Figure 4).

Discussion
The advertising objective is to say the right
things to the right people and have them perceive what is said. Three main dimensions are
involved in this definition, as can be seen in
Figure 5. These are: message, the meaning that
the advertiser intends to transmit to the audiences; format, those advertising attributes that
attract the consumers attention; and context, or
media which gives some specific opportunities
to advertisers in attracting the audiences and
transmitting the message to them (Figure 5).An
advertisement, in order to be successful, needs
to be considered strongly in all dimensions. In
other words, the message should be supported
by an appropriate format and a right use of
opportunities offered by the medium (Figure 6).
Every medium has its own ability and needs
its own requirements. The literature strongly
supports the view that the rules of the game in
virtual marketing are quite different from those
of the traditional mass communication systems
(Kiani, 1997). Despite that, many advertisers
still approach the Web based on the traditional
mass communication model (the pattern shown
in Figure 7).
Considering the opportunities provided by
the Web, marketers should use them rightly to
achieve their objective. Thus, understanding and
supporting each objective is an essential requirement for advertising on the WWW. Some examples, in this respect, are provided in Table I.

Figure 4 Five-phase model of marketing on the Web


Awareness

Attraction

Visit/contact

Source: adapted from Berthon et al. (1996a and 1996b)

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Purchase

Re-purchase

Marketing opportunities in the digital world

Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy

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Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

Table I Marketing objectives on the Web and examples of supportive features

Figure 5 Three main dimensions of advertising

Objectives

Context

Examples of supportive features

Awareness

Format

Message

Figure 6 The pattern of successful advertising


Context

Format

Message

Figure 7 Traditional approach of advertising in a new medium


Context

Format

Message

Summary and conclusions


Never before has it been so easy to access information on a worldwide basis, and never before
have so many people been exposed to and used
a single information-sharing system. The
increasing popularity of the Web has generated
significant interest in the development of electronic commerce.
This new marketing environment can be
viewed from four different angles to undergo the
opportunities provided for marketers. These are:
company-to-consumer, consumer-to-company,
consumer-to-consumer and company-to-company. The opportunities offered by the Web in
each communication situation were discussed.

Announcement: through letterheads, business cards,


brochures, packages, newspapers, magazines and TV
Mnemonic-ness of address: its similarity to the
company name
Attraction
Hyperlinks from other sites: search engines addressing
the site, searchable indexes addressing the site and
hotlinks from other sites
Content length of document: the higher content (texts,
images, backgrounds, animations, frames, sounds and
video) the less speed to be downloaded by visitors
Bandwidth of the connection speed
Visit/engage Information: about products and company
Facilities: Java, search engines, sound, video and
animation
Purchase
Order facilities: ordering form, mail, fax, call phone and
e-mail
Payment facilities: cash/cheque, credit card and direct
account
Delivery/booking facilities: mail, fax, call phone and
e-mail
Re-purchase Freshness: communities/clubs/user-to-user
communication, Whats New and FAQs (frequently
asked questions)
Hyperlink to other sites
Customisation: collecting users information,
demographic information, customer needs, optional
menu and diagnostic requiring user input
The objective of marketers in establishing a Web
site differs from one organisation to another.
Some marketers might want their Web site to
make the audience aware of or interested in, their
products or brands while some others might wish
to sell and resell their product through the Web
sites (Pitt, 1996). Hence, it is vital that business
leaders and marketers understand the potentials
of the virtual market and the opportunities
offered by this new environment and use them
effectively to support their objective.

Notes

193

1 Undertaking several researches in Internet marketing the


Project 2000 Group makes a particularly important
contribution to the literature in the area. The Projects
homepage is hosted at the URL: [http://www2000.
ogsm.vanderbilt.edu]
2 BMGs Classical Music is hosted on the Web at the
URL: [http://classicalmus.com]

Marketing opportunities in the digital world

Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy

G. Reza Kiani

Volume 8 Number 2 1998 185194

Hamill, J. and Gregory, K. (1997), Internet marketing in the


internationalisation of UK SMEs, Journal of Marketing
Research, No. 13, pp. 9-28.

3 Amazon Bookstore is hosted on the Web at the URL:


[http://www.amazon.com]
4 Yahoo is available at the URL: [http://www.yahoo.com]

Hammond, K., Pluim, D. and Eynde, K.V. (1995), Interactive


mass media a review of evidence and expert opinion
from the USA and UK, working paper No. 95-801,
Centre for Marketing, London Business School, November, p. 28.

5 Lycos is available at the URL: [http://www.lycos.com]


6 Altavista is available at the URL: [http://www.altavista.
com]
7 InfoSeek is available at the URL: [http://www.infoseek.
com]
8 Submit it provides the service to submit information to
about 15 of the most important indexes. It is hosted on
the Web at the URL: [http://www.submitit.com]
9 Virtual Trade Show is hosted on the Web at the URL:
[http://www.vts.com]

Harrington, D. and Reed, G. (1996), Electronic commerce


(finally) comes of age, The McKinsey Quarterly, No. 2,
pp. 68-77.
Hoffman, D.L., and Novak, T.P. (1996), Marketing in hypermedia computer-mediated environments: conceptual
foundations, Journal of Marketing, July, pp. 50-68.
Hoffman, D.L., Novak, T.P. and Chatterjee, P. (1995), Commercial scenarios for the Web: opportunities and
challenges, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Special Issue on Electronic Commerce, Vol. 1,
December, is hosted on the Web at the URL: [http://
shum.huji.ac.il/jcmc/voll/issues3/vollno3.html]

10 The Internet Mall is hosted on the Web at the URL:


[http://www.iw.com/imall]

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194