The newest channels for direct marketing are electronic. The internet provides marketers and consumers with opportunities for much greater interaction and individualization. Companies in the past would send standard media magazines, newsletters, ads to everyone. Today these companies can send individualized content and consumers themselves can further individualize the content. Today companies can interact and dialogue with much larger groups than ever in the past.
The exchange process in the age of information has become increasingly customer initiated and customer controlled. Marketers and their representatives must wait until customers agree to participate in the exchange. Even after marketers enter the exchange process, customers define the rules of engagement, and insulate themselves with the help of agents and intermediaries if they so choose. Customers define what information they need, what offerings they are interested in and what prices they are willing to pay.
Electronic marketing is showing explosive growth: $2.2 billion was spent in online advertising during the fourth quarter ,of 2003; 43% of PC users or 51 million US households could connect to the Internet via the broadband connection necessary for swift downloading of dense video and music digital files. These new capabilities will spur the growth of rich media ads that combine animation, video and sound with interactive features.
Winner of Business 2.0â€™s 2003 Sweet Spot Award for â€˜Most Innovative Campaignâ€™ Unileverâ€™s Axe Deodorant body spray was launched in 2002 targeting the 18 to 24 year old male audience interested in improving their appeal to the opposite sex. The centerpiece of the effort designed by ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty was a set of commercials purporting to be home videos and playing only on Axeâ€™s Web site www.theaxeeffect.com. In each a pretty young woman is instantly attracted by a whiff of Axe deodorant. In one 25-second clip, a high school cheer leader sprints onto a football field to tackle an Axe-saturated ball carrier. The agencyâ€™s assumption was that this demographic group 95% of whom spent at least four hours online preferred to discover brands. The campaign bypassed conventional TV ads in favor of banner ads on Web sites of menâ€™s magazines Maxim and FHM as well as on Atom Films, a repository of quirky short movies. The banners clicked through to flashy Web sites where surfers could view the video clips. The campaign ROI exceeded all expectations. The site received seven times as many hits as expected. Four months into the campaign, 1.7 million people had visited the site and a third of them reported that they had been sent there by friends. By year end, Axe had captured almost 4% of the $2 billion US male deodorant market.