Network: Web Design - Which way Web sales?

IN CASE you it escaped your attention, last week was Christmas. And the high street is not the only place that has benefited from gift- giving. The Web has posted record sales as more and more busy people went online to play Santa.

For sites selling products and services, the audience is no longer visitors surfing the web, (http://www.independent.co.uk/net/980810ne/story5.html). Instead, they have become consumers. There are two sides to the consumer coin: marketing and selling.

Selling seems to be doing quite well, as evidenced by the online star, Amazon.com, whose stock has soared to over $300. It is Web marketing - convincing a person to buy - that's struggling.

Traditionally, marketing to the masses has been based on a passive model through print, television and radio ads. These require no immediate action by consumers, but instead they receive ads intended to influence or change their buying habits. There is some differentiation of ads for different audiences, but generally, ads are intended to appeal to as broad a segment of the population as possible.

The Web is supposed to be different. It is about the two-way transfer of information, and is an active medium where a website visitor is expected to interact with the content. The Web has indeed strengthened the voice of special interest groups, each with its own needs, concerns and desires.

Unfortunately, marketing on the Web became stuck early on with the generic banner ad. These are really nothing more than a concept borrowed from the world of print. They are general long graphics that span the top of the screen, often animated, and used just like print ads to capture the viewer's interest. Banner ads are also hypertextualy linked to further information which viewers will "click-through", but often what the visitor finds at the other end is another idea borrowed from the print world - the brochure website: these simply present static information, just like a printed brochure.

How effective are banner ads and brochure sites? One school of thought is that if they didn't work they would not have endured. Yet they are little better than their counterparts in older media at engaging web users in active participation.

In other media, the value of an advertisement is based on the number of people seeing that advertisement. For most mediums this is scientifically calculated using careful measurements of circulation or the number of televisions or radios tuned in. But, you can throw these notions out of the window when it comes to measuring how many people see a banner ad on the Web, especially since the click-through rate is far more important than the number of eyeballs laid upon it.

Services, such as NetRatings and MediaMetrix, attempt to measure the number of visitors and how often they click on ads. Yet these services often provide completely different results for the same site. When websites go seeking ad revenues they can pick the numbers that paint their site in the best light.

While banner ads definitely generate revenue for a lot of different sites, it is questionable whether they capture customers for the firm paying for the ad. So, is the banner-ad/click-through/brochure-site model how online marketing should be pursued in future?

The Web is still a very young and underdeveloped medium, but one that has come of age in the era of big media with big expectations and highly refined methods, especially in marketing. It still requires testing and experimentation or it is possible that its full potential may never be realised.

So what should our strategy be? What are our other options in online marketing? Simple: Use the Web's strengths.

Unlike other mediums with limited bandwidth (there is only so much room on newsagents' shelves or television channels), the web is infinite. You can set up as many sites as you wish and each can be narrowly focused for a specific audience. For about the price of a single TV ad, a firm can set up a website for its targeted audience. But why stop there? Why not target the people who influence the people who buy your product? Websites can be set up with content and functions that appeal to these trend-setters and be sponsored (rather than advertised on) by a company wishing to endear itself to this select audience. The Web may well change the nature of selling as we move from macro-marketing into niche-marketing.

Niche sites may have a small audience, but have the potential directly to reach the people interested in purchasing a particular product or service. They build brand loyalty, and in the future that'll be even more vital than brand recognition.

Send your comments or queries to Jason at indy_webdesign@ mindspring.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone