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.’

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group