Promotion Response in a Vanishing Mass Market

Just over a decade ago, network television viewers were a captive audience; they settled in for the evening to watch their favourite programs, commercials and all. Visions of Ford trucks, McDonalds, cheeseburgers, Tide detergent, Whiskas cat food and other products flew past their eyes. Now these same viewers have hundreds of satellite and cable channels from which to choose not to mention the option of recording their favorite shows to watch later and skipping over commercials or using TiVo, which lets them skip ads on the spot.

In addition consumers want products and messages tailored to meet their specific needs. They don’t want to sort through unwanted junk email to find the kind of product they want.

So how can marketers reach potential buyers and create some buzz about goods and services? More and more firms-large and small-are targeting promotional efforts at smaller groups of consumers. This doesn’t mean they plan to sell fewer products;they are just individualizing their marketing messages. Even though Tide, for example,online marketing agency Atlanta has been ranked the best selling laundry detergent for fifty years, manufacturer Procter and Gamble now focuses on millions of individual customers instead of one giant mass of consumers. P & G globals marketing officer, explains, ”Every one of our brands is targeted. You find the people. You are very focused on them. You are very focused on them. You become relevant to them. “

Marketers may use different channels for their messages. They may advertise on closed circuit sports programs or in targeted magazines, for example Money or Traditional Home. They can focus on working on working mothers through websites like iVillage or Oxygen. McDonalds advertises to active adults on Foot lockers in store video network.

BMW dismissed the idea of traditional advertising of its new Mini Cooper. Instead the firm’s ad agency put giant pay phones and trash cans in airport lobbies with mini billboards beside them reading, “Makes everything else seem a little too big. “Then they lifted a Mini on top of an SUV and drove it around San Francisco.

When you go online, are you peppered with pop-up ads? If you are annoyed by them and find yourself chasing them around with your mouse until you can zap them off your screen, here’s a new twist. The next generation of pop-ups may be implanted in your PC software.

When you turn on your computer, a “silent” software programs slips on also, tracking all the websites you visit collecting information about any purchases you make. Then when you visit other websites, targeted websites pop up on your screen-ones for goods and services you may be interested in buying. Suppose you initially browse through a site for outdoor gear and buy a fleece jacket. Two days later, your screen may show pop-ups for adventure travel, airline tickets, outdoor clothing and the like. You might not know this but these pop-ups are the result of the embedded software that some people call spyware.

The largest creator of this software, Gator, had recently teamed up with Yahoo to send such pop-ups to 43 million computer screens worldwide. In one year the agreement generated 28 million dollars in advertising fees that were split by the two companies, and industry experts expect that figure to increase.

Not surprisingly, surveys focusing on the internet experience typically list pop-up ads as the most annoying online experience. So marketers at Atlanta based Earth Link came up with an idea:offer subscribers software to block them. Although Earth Link, the number 3 U. S. internet service provider with about five million subscribers, is small change in an industry dominated by industry giant AOL. The company has based its recent market growth strategy on offering a solution to the estimated 4. 8 billion ads that pop up on computers worldwide every month.