INTERACTIVE: BEHIND THE HYPE/Will advertisers trust the electronic market?; Financial media brands battle to reach a dream audience
By MICHELE MARTIN, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 19 April 1996 12:00AM
Electronic businesses are set to take an increasing share of advertising cash. Report by Michele Martin
Electronic businesses are set to take an increasing share of advertising
cash. Report by Michele Martin
There is a dream audience for interactive advertisers - young affluent
business people who are early adopters, either through personal choice
So it’s hardly surprising that the battle has begun among the UK’s
electronic media brands to prove that they can deliver this audience to
Last month Reuters went on the the offensive, claiming that it carries
‘more advertising than any other electronic medium’, while business
publishers on the Net are going through a flurry of relaunches,
spearheaded by the Economist, the Financial Times and the Wall Street
Journal. Hardly surprising, perhaps, when research commissioned by CNN
International last year revealed that 16 per cent of European business
people and 23 per cent in the UK are online.
The jostling is a sign of an immature market getting its act together in
the realisation that the next 18 months will reveal the main players and
spotlight the full potential of interactive business media.
The electronic business sector falls into two main categories. First are
closed systems, represented by Reuters and Bloomberg, which primarily
supply live data to City firms and financial companies on private
terminals without Internet access.
These offer advertisers small, targeted audiences, mainly in London and
the South-east, through special leisure pages, such as Reuters’
Cityscreen and Bloomberg’s Magazine. Reuters offers text-only sites to
advertisers, while Bloomberg offers graphics, but full interaction with
either is only possible if the advertiser has a terminal.
The second and most significant medium is the Internet. As indicated by
the number of recent and imminent site relaunches, quality has been
patchy to date, but is improving fast. Publishers are tightening up on
registration in an effort to improve audience data - a move which,
combined with international reach and the chance to use graphics, has
started to tempt advertisers.
On the face of it, the closed systems appear to be faring best in the
war for mainstream consumer advertisers. Cityscreen has lured names such
as Heineken to its rugby coverage and Dunhill to its golf pages.
Non-business advertisers have been slower to use financial sites. The
FT’s site is currently devoid of popular consumer brands and most CNN
advertisers have opted for the main site rather than the financial site,
The reasons for the rush to use closed systems are numerous and do not
necessarily indicate the state of the broader interactive business
market. Reuters and Bloomberg have proved popular because they are
cheap, localised marketing tools, delivering a highly desirable
Neil Morgan, the managing director of Cityscreen, says: ‘People who use
us most effectively use us as a direct marketing tool.’
Nor can the systems be called truly interactive. A recent competition on
Cityscreen drew 60 telephone responses, 40 faxes and just four e-mails,
prompting Morgan to say: ‘City men don’t see themselves as typists.’
Both factors reveal that closed systems and Net sites are actually very
different animals that only bear comparison because of the immaturity of
the Internet, which cannot yet deliver the details of audience sizes and
profiles that its competitor can.
But that will change very quickly, according to Tony Blin-Stoyle, the
planning director of FT Media. ‘Once the coding and registration of Net
users is well-established, advertisers will be able to focus their
messages just as closely as closed systems can now,’ he says.
When Net sites are able to offer the same targeting as closed systems,
it follows that they should be able to attract advertisers in a similar
There seem few detractors from this theory, with the Internet
consultancy, Intervid, predicting that the value of total Internet
advertising will increase from an estimated dollars 100 million in 1996
to dollars 500-600 million in 1997. Certainly the industry is bullish.
Dan Stone, the senior vice-president of Turner Interactive Marketing and
Sales, says: ‘We see a very broad application for our sites with both
consumer and business goods.’
As Net sites become more sophisticated and closed terminals become
better at selling what they are good at, the likelihood is that both
will attract a bigger share of the advertising pie.
At the moment, the fight for sector market share seems gentlemanly.
‘There will always be a role for the Bloomberg and Reuters of this world
and for now we are quite happy to live together,’ concludes Stone -
revealing, perhaps, that the dominant partner in this particular
relationship can afford to be magnanimous. For now, at least.
The main Business players
Description: Closed system, real-time financial/business information
service. Ads on Cityscreen pages.
Audience: 40,000 in the UK.
Ad cost: pounds 475 per page, per week.
Current advertisers: Include Dunhill, Majestic Wines and Tesco.
Description: Closed system, real-time financial/business information
service. Advertising on Bloomberg magazine pages.
Audience: 8,000 terminals in the UK.
Ad cost: dollars 13,200 per page, per month.
Current advertisers: Include Cathay Pacific, BMW, IBM.
The Financial Times
Description: Enhanced newspaper Website ( www.FT.com)
Audience: 300,000 hits per week.
Ad cost: pounds 5,000 per month
Current advertisers: Flemings, Global Asset Management.
Description: Runs three Websites: CNN, AllPolitics with Time magazine,
and financial specialist, CNNfn. (www.CNNfn.com)
Audience: CNNfn generates up to two million page views per week.
Ad cost: dollars 10,000-dollars 35,000 a month.
Current advertisers: Fidelity Asset Management, Sprint and AT&T.
Wall Street Journal
Description: Enhanced newspaper Website. Soon to be relaunched as Wall
Street Journal Interactive Edition. ( update.WSJ.com).
Audience: 325,000 registered users.
Ad cost: dollars 10,000-dollars 20,000 a month.
Current advertisers: Wells Fargo, Fidelity Asset Management.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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