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
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’.