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The Internet Was Just A Fad

Larry Chase

No doubt there are many looking at the .com carnage and jubilantly saying "You see, I told you so. This whole Internet thing was just a feverish mid-summer's night dream." Well, people surely did let their upside fantasy run wild. But it's hard to imagine moving forward without the Net playing a major role in marketing and most other aspects of our lives, both professionally and personally.

Before peering into the future, I like looking back at history. One hundred years ago there were hundreds of car companies, including Oldsmobile (which is just now starting to phase out). You might say there's been a hundred year shake-out in the automotive industry.

Back in the fifties you saw two quality unprofitable brands merge, Packard and Studebaker. As I write this, I notice my spell checker doesn't recognize Studebaker. Anyway, pundits of that era referred to this merger as two drunks holding each other up. In pretty short order, the combined entity ceased to exist. Tip: When two online firms merge, one should be adept at making a profit.
 
Larry Chase
Larry Chase
No, the Net isn't going away. What's going away are the insane assumptions and presumptions about where it's going.

One thing is for certain, onslaught advertising models are seriously being challenged. Marketers who understand they can no longer shove commercial messages down people's throats against their will have the best chance of succeeding not just online, but offline as well.

I'm still amazed and amused at how many Madison Avenue types herald the coming of greater bandwidth as the opportunity to send TV-type commercials to consumers. What makes these Einsteins think that commercials (which we already reject by fast forwarding over them or channel-surfing by them on TV) will be embraced online?

To paraphrase David Ogilvy, "the consumer you're writing for isn't some faceless idiot, she's you're wife." I humbly augment this insight by saying that consumer is you. If you didn't write that ad, or design that TV spot, would you really watch it? Would you really click on any buttons on your website? Would you know what each button meant?

There are two challenges going on here simultaneously. One is the search to use this incredible medium in a fiscally prudent way. The other is crafting marketing campaigns that aren't only passively accepted by the consumer, but actively embraced. The old-line marketing firms are hard-pressed to give up time-honored practices, while the upstart online consultancies and agencies haven't done their homework in the disciplines of direct marketing and human nature.


Larry Chase publishs "Web Digest For Marketers," the first online marketing newsletter. Its reviews are read by over 150,000 people monthly.
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