The growth of internet broadband is opening the door to new advertising formats, with a much greater use of broadcast-type advertising in the Web environment.
The latest Ofcom figures show more than 3 million broadband connections in the UK; this is expected to grow to about 5 million by the end of the year. Two-fifths of homes with internet access will soon have broadband – an entirely different user experience to dial-up, and one that will have a significant impact for any marketers distributing their product online.
This will have a major effect on e-marketing. It is estimated that more than &£400m will be spent through online media over the next 12 months, and recent research shows that Web consumption has now overtaken that of radio.
Most marketers appreciate this and are including online in their communications. Longer user sessions and fast download times open the door to adding brand-building to accountability as reasons to include online in any media plans.
Additionally, as more people access the internet at high speed, there will be increasing impatience with any sites that take too long to give consumers what they want. Campaign performance can be improved as much by streamlining the path of shoppers through a site, as by driving down cost-per-thousand rates or optimising creative work. This will definitely be the case with the speed junkies – who, by the way, are as likely to be your colleagues in marketing as the people hiding in the IT room.
The growth of broadband, and the fact that more than half of UK households are online, is a wake-up call for any brand not using Web media or – shock horror – that don’t have a significant Web presence. According to the Internet Measurement Research Group, consumers spent &£2.5bn shopping online last Christmas. With 5 million people using broadband next time around, it makes sense to start planning now.
The growth of broadband will have an indirect impact on how interactive TV evolves in the UK. More than 400 iTV campaigns have been booked with Sky Digital, because the ability to request a phone call, a CD or a sample at the push of a button provides tangible added value for advertisers. However, the concept of banking and shopping through the TV will flounder unless new set-top boxes are uniformly distributed and the technology gets much faster. That is unlikely and in the meantime, a growing number of people are doing all of this ten times faster on their PCs.
The UK lags much of Europe in terms of high-speed internet connectivity, but it is catching up and, with broadband Britain on the horizon, now is the time to consider how it could impact on both communication and sales performance.
Dan Clays is a director of Quantum Media