ACCOUNT Internet Column 2 : Marketing on the Internet

Thank-you for your response to the first Internet column published in the previous issue of ACCOUNT. Whilst not over-whelming in its volume (!) it seems to have been a positive start. I would encourage you to e-mail me with your comments on this column and with references for future 'Net-Extracts'. This column considers the use of the Internet for marketing and its possible implications for our marketing courses.

Commercial usage of the Internet is growing at a tremendous rate. The number of commercial domains registered with the Internet Society exceeded the number of educational domains for the first time ever in the fourth quarter of 1994 (see network Wizards Survey for the Internet Society at Whilst this was bound to occur at some point (the majority of higher educational institutions in the main Internet active areas of the world already having registered before October 1994), it has only occurred because businesses see a real (i.e. profitable) potential in this technology.

E-mail is currently the main 'tool' for which UK businesses use the Internet according to a recent survey carried out by Pipex (the largest UK Internet Access Provider for non-educational users). FTP comes a fair way behind in second place and then sourcing and providing information (ie the web !). This third use, however, is considered to be the area in which UK businesses see the most growth potential in the near future.

Where businesses have developed Internet connections, one of their primary uses has clearly been in the areas of marketing and customer awareness/support. Examples of a wide variety of types of advertising can now be seen on the net from simple e-mail addresses for customer/company contact to elaborate web pages providing detailed product information. Despite decidedly bad press to start with (e.g. the Canter and Seigel debacle !) lessons have been learned and applied and considerable to come up with ways to effectively use this new, and very different, medium for marketing purposes.

There are a number of commercial and academic 'experiments' using the Internet for marketing that can be looked at.. I would suggest that this rapid adoption of the technology for this purpose may well require us to rethink the content of some of our marketing courses.

Described below are a number of sites (academic and commercial) which could be used within a marketing module to create a framework for debate about possible uses of this technology for marketing and the implication of so doing.

1. An investigation of the marketing implications of commercialising hypermedia computer- mediated environments - Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, USA URL

2. Sony URL

3. Bell Atlantic URL

4. Reebok URL

5. Barclaycard URL

6. Telmar - supplier of advertising media planning software and support service URL

7. Internet-marketing discussion list/web pages URL (Subscribe to list by senting message (subscribe inet-marketing) to )

Simon Waldman, in his article 'Market Traders' in the April issue of INTERNET (p52-53) picks up a couple of these sites and describes what is good and bad about them. In particular he discusses the current trend to include large graphic front-ends to corporate pages and the 'speed-of-loading' implications this brings for those without the equivalent of JANET access to the web. There are still some lessons that can be learned about this medium!

The recent adaptations of the simple HTML code (the language used to write material for the web) have brought with them a number of interesting marketing possibilities. The advent of forms to provide limited interaction, for example, is likely generate a number of interesting uses of technology to sample and respond to customer's needs. The very recent announcement of Webspace - Silicon Graphics' 3D viewer for the web ( - also holds interesting possibilities for product marketing and sales. A 3D image of a product that you can 'pick-up' or a virtual mall for you to travel through and shop in are no longer only possibilities resident in the minds of Science Fiction writers.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who is considering the way the advent of the Internet as a commercial tool could be reflected in their teaching (of marketing or any other subject). Either e-mail me personally, and I will report on it in future columns, or post a message to cti-acc-business ( where we could generate a discussion on this subject for anyone to join in.

This article appeared in ACCOUNT Vol. 7, No. 2 (Summer 1995)

It is likely that some of the details given in the article will become dated over time.
Please notify the author ( if you spot any of these changes and he will update the information where appropriate.

This page was created and is maintained by its author - Andrew Lymer: University of Birmingham.

Last amended: November 1996