Online is a crucial part of every marketer’s armour

The online environment is one we are now all familiar with, as consumers, marketers and analysts. Yet it is evolving at an extraordinary pace, with the landscape being constantly remodelled through seismic shifts that can have significant impact on brands and their advertising agencies. The race is on to snap up competitors and new platforms, with the tussle between Microsoft and New Corp for Yahoo perhaps the most striking example of this.

Yet there are constants, not least internet advertising’s inexorable rise. While economic turmoil looms on the horizon, online advertising appears to be booming and now takes 15% of overall advertising. Last year it grew more than 41% year on year in the first half of 2007, and Group M predicts that, by the end of this year, the internet will account for 24.8% of UK ad spend – just behind television’s 26% – and is likely to climb by 30.8% this year.

Good news for the industry and, undoubtedly, proof that online is now an essential part of the marketer’s armour. But how to navigate the changes, which, although less lofty than big money acquisitions, have no less impact for advertisers and the digital industry? Internet users have grown more sophisticated in their behaviour, and advertisers and ad agencies must respond with equal sophistication. Blunt approaches no longer work and will, in fact, be more likely to provoke negative and vocal reaction – Facebook and its clumsy launch of Beacon being probably the most high-profile bungle of last year.

Marketing Week Interactive examines new trends and tools in the online environment, while providing an overview of how these developments are affecting brands and their relationships with consumers. For instance, we look at the need for advertisers of all sizes to target small, niche and local markets for greater impact. We examine how search is evolving, how the use of analytics can help make campaigns more effective and be applied to more traditional marketing techniques, and how to marry all this to your overall marketing strategy.

We don’t have all the answers. Who does? We do aim, however, to provide you with an understanding of the new developments in this now essential medium, whatever your market.

Sonoo Singh, deputy editor, Marketing Week

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