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The Perfect Pair

1 Dec, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response

Brands and DRTV companies continue to maximize the Internet as a selling channel

Greenstone says some of the more technical issues associated with E-commerce must also be overcome before an online campaign can run smoothly. Take cybersecurity, for example. With identity theft grabbing many headlines these days, consumer information must be protected vigilantly by the companies that use and store it. "Data security is huge right now," says Greenstone, whose firm employs several full-time compliance officers to handle the task.

With the financial crisis and real estate meltdown still in full swing, Barnthouse says the age-old issue of trust also comes into play when marketers take their campaigns online. And while an increasing number of consumers are buying online every year (eMarketer estimates that 63.4 percent of the U.S. population uses the Web at least once per month, and that nearly seven out of 10 Americans will do so by 2013), he says both brands and DRTV-only marketers must adjust to meet the new challenges brought on by events like the global financial crisis.

"The issue of whether people trust the online channel for buying is slowly going away," says Barnthouse, "but it's still there, and marketers across all industries have to do what they can to cultivate that trust."


Getting Social Online


As a growing number of brands and DRTV marketers leverage the Web as a sales channel — and as technology continues to evolve at the speed of light — one has to wonder, what's next? According to Barnthouse, it could be a more heightened interaction between company and consumer using what some might consider an unlikely tool: social networking.

Many people see online social networking tools as a fun diversion where individuals make friends, find romance and locate long-lost classmates. While it's true that sites like MySpace and Facebook have come to the forefront as "the sites to be on" for people looking to connect socially online, those two sites plus myriad others have proven themselves as useful business tools for marketers looking to increase their online presence in a very "viral" nature.

One of the best aspects of social networking is the fact that it can be via an existing Web presence. In other words, firms don't have to start from scratch online when they want to start taking advantage of this useful way to promote themselves, find new clients and connect with existing customers. Add in the fact that sites like YouTube are growing in leaps and bounds, and it's clear that a single-minded Web approach won't fly for much longer.

"Some people say that 25,000 people viewing your video on YouTube is better than a million people seeing it on TV," says Barnthouse. "That's because those 25,000 people who saw it on YouTube most likely received it virally from a friend, relative or co-worker, and actually looked at it instead of just forwarding through it on their DVRs."

Going forward, Barnthouse expects marketers to take advantage of the cost-effective, viral nature of social networking and other online tools that allow firms to reach existing and potential customers without having to shell out additional production or media bucks in the process. By augmenting those efforts with a solid DRTV campaign, he says, companies can effectively leverage the power of the Internet and TV in one fell swoop.

"Look at the most visited sites right now, and they are MySpace and Facebook," says Barnthouse. "That's where the Internet is at right now, and the marketer who can get people to interact with their brands through these channels will be the one that hits gold."

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