Advertisers warned to guard against online complacency

Advertisers who fail to use the Internet as an effective advertising medium should 'panic', according to a report by WPP's GroupM.

The report from WPP's global pooled buying operation suggests that many advertisers are too concerned with low costs and getting it cheap rather than investing in online advertising for its effectiveness.

GroupM, which includes media agencies MediaCom, Mediaedge:CIA and MindShare, said that while most advertisers have openly embraced the medium, many do not use the "full power of the medium as an effective advertising vehicle".

"Our advice is to panic a little," said Rob Norman, global CEO of GroupM Interaction.

"Online is already a mainstream component of consumer behaviour and media consumption. The fundamental purpose of communication strategy remains unchanged, but marketing must urgently harness interactive media and the behaviours it induces."

The global study, called Interaction, said that brand advertisers are most at risk of failing to realise the potential of the Internet in light of audience decline on traditional brand-building mediums such as television.

It said brand advertisers need to adopt "multi-platform reach strategies" to maximise the power of each channel.

The report also argues that the standard of creativity in online advertising is failing to engage consumers sufficiently, and that even for brands rarely sold online the medium has become a key choice for those advertisers.

GroupM said that in 2007 for the first time it will invest more than £2bn on behalf of its clients in online advertising.

According to a GroupM forecast published in November, its digital spend (excluding mobile and interactive TV) will increase by 39% to £2.2bn this year.

In contrast, the same report said that GroupM's spend on television will decrease by 5% in 2007 to £3.4bn.

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