Internet long on potential, short on delivery, say speakers

The dot-com business model is alluring if not downright sexy. You start it up in your garage, generate a buzz, get some financing, float an IPO and watch the riches come in. But as delegates to Strategy's Online to Profit conference...

The dot-com business model is alluring if not downright sexy. You start it up in your garage, generate a buzz, get some financing, float an IPO and watch the riches come in.

But as delegates to Strategy’s Online to Profit conference last week were reminded more than once, there’s no question that there’s an advantage to having an established brand and a good ol’ sidewalk storefront, too. For the Internet, with all its promise, is still but one channel – and one that’s being shaped and formed by both marketers and consumers.

‘There is no question that there is some

advantage to brick-and-mortar companies if they’ve invested in their brands,’ said Doug Keeley, president of ICE Integrated Communications & Entertainment, and chairman of the first day of the two-day event, held in Toronto. ‘The message coming out today is, if you are starting a dot-com and you don’t have a ton of dough, you should probably stay home. (Otherwise) you will be one of

the 75% (of dot-com businesses) who just don’t make it.’

Start-up or not, Online to Profit was also

about exposing strategies that would help

marketers thrive in an era in which the old

business-to-customer marketing model has been turned on its head.

Peter Evans, vice-president of marketing for Toronto-based e-mail marketing service provider FloNetwork, told delegates that Web-based marketing will require ever more relevant and database-driven customer offers and engaging creative formats to better-targeted prospects.

In contrast to the rosy outlook Evans and other speakers presented, Creative Good CEO Phil Terry stated flatly: ‘There is a lot of hype and I want to bust it.’

Terry pointed out that despite its promise, e-commerce also has a huge ‘unrealized’ potential – as much as $14 billion in the U.S. alone, with that number arising from lost or abandoned e-commerce purchases in 1999.

‘The Internet has failed to live up to its promise,’ he continued. ‘There is a gap between the promise and the reality for most people who use the Internet. The promise is convenience and making our lives easier; the promise is to give us access to products and services that we’ve never had before. That’s not the reality.

‘If you understand the implications of this, your business will be more successful – by simplifying and focusing. You must ask yourself: How can we solve a customer need?

‘In other words, think from the point of view of your customers.’

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.