NEWS: Guinness warns of Net limitations

Guinness, the company that has been at the forefront of online advertising over the past year, has fired a warning shot about the commercial potential of the Internet, claiming that its impact on marketing and communications will be limited.

Guinness, the company that has been at the forefront of online

advertising over the past year, has fired a warning shot about the

commercial potential of the Internet, claiming that its impact on

marketing and communications will be limited.



Peter Mitchell, strategic affairs director for Guinness and the deputy

president of the World Federation of Advertisers, has also cast doubt on

the amount of money to be made from the Internet and the wide-ranging

forecasts of burgeoning Internet usage.



In a speech this week to the International Advertising Association

World Congress in Korea, Mitchell said: ‘The certainty of it [the

Internet] being in the mainstream of commercial communications is

unclear - not because of doubts about the potential that may exist but

because of doubts as to how consumers will respond to the interactive

capabilities that may be available to them.’



Mitchell claimed that the only companies likely to make money out of the

Internet are conference organisers, Web design companies and some

research companies, service providers and telephone companies.



Mitchell also warned delegates: ‘The technical wizardry of the medium is

obscuring the ideas that need to be conveyed.’ He stressed that messages

will always be more important than the medium they travel through.



‘Let us not become so dazzled by media pyrotechnics that we forget about

the average consumer’s real reasons to buy,’ he added.



He also allayed fears that mass-market advertising is on its way out,

saying that new media is unlikely to replace mainstream advertising in

the foreseeable future.



‘Interactive communication can help with this process of understanding

and staying close to the consumer. The one-to-one nature of interactive

media can help. The ability to target very precisely helps...but those

sites, even the best of them today, still lack the emotional feel and

subtlety that the best mainstream advertising can convey,’ Mitchell

said.



He advised companies to experiment as a way of making small mistakes

now, rather than big mistakes later but ‘to give it only some of our

attention, for only some of the time’.