BRAND SPEND ANALYSIS: It’s a Jungle out there as the web service attempts to lure potential shoppers

It’s the question that hundreds of buyers, planners and sales people are asking. How does a dotcom achieve standout at a time when hundreds of online ventures are launched every day?

It’s the question that hundreds of buyers, planners and sales

people are asking. How does a dotcom achieve standout at a time when

hundreds of online ventures are launched every day?, the online shopping service, spent pounds 1.33 million on

advertising between its launch in August and Christmas. is designed to make online shopping quick, easy and fun and

at prices lower than the high street. The company sells games, music,

videos and computer hardware and software. The website is simple to

navigate and use, featuring an online shopping basket that can be

filled, viewed and amended as the user moves around the site. has experienced problems with its customer service and

fulfilment, which led to its expulsion from the Consumers’ Association

Web Traders organisation. However, it seems to have survived with its

reputation relatively intact and an impressively high level of brand

awareness. uses sophisticated customer management software that enables

its website to be tailored to a user’s requirements. It makes individual

suggestions for products and promotions that match the user’s buying

histories and tastes. For example, the gift service reminds shoppers of

forthcoming birthdays and suggests suitable gifts. Particularly

innovative is a link to independent product reviews and the option to

download software from the site while earning loyalty points.

To drive people to its site, used a mix of media that is

becoming typical of dotcoms. Of the pounds 1.33 million spent in 1999,

just over half went on press advertising. The other half was split

fairly evenly between radio (pounds 321,000) and outdoor (pounds

342,276). This year the company has started to run TV ads and to send

direct mail to previous users, but spend and targeting data for this is

not yet available.

Outdoor activity was concentrated around’s launch to create

maximum brand awareness. From October, the focus shifted to press and

radio, with ads explaining the service and its


Sixty-eight per cent of ads were placed in national papers, with Sunday

and weekday titles accounting for 41 per cent and 27 per cent of total

spend respectively. Those that gained the greatest slices of

ad revenue were The Sunday Times (pounds 99,135), Sunday Express (pounds

92,221), The Guardian (pounds 74,982), The Mail on Sunday (pounds

43,892) and The Mirror (pounds 30,488).

Only pounds 10,087 was spent on three regional papers. Computer titles

fared better. Computer Shopper headed the list with pounds 17,136,

followed by Personal Computer World with pounds 14,880.

It remains to be seen whether’s media strategy will be enough

to fight off stiff competition from an increasing number of web shopping


Research by AC Nielsen MMS, telephone: 01344-627553

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).