Years after various online media outlets began to gain credibility and market share, conventional wisdom still held that print or broadcast was where clients got the best exposure. However, new research shows times are changing and that online media outlets are beginning to trump many of their more established counterparts.
According to new research from the Fournaise Marketing Group, not only is more money going to online marketing channels, but online marketing channels themselves are now big players in terms of customer acquisition. In fact, online media are now shown to be 35 percent more effective than traditional outlets at acquiring customers. The survey looks for this number to continue increasing as online outlets make strides in reliability, credibility and transparency.
While this research took into account marketing in general, it parallels nicely with what I've long held in a public relations context, which is that online outlets are just as powerful, if not more so, than their print counterparts. Online outlets have several factors in their corner that print ones do not; namely, they're generally cheaper, if not free, and online content can be accessed in a wide variety of environments and locations, be it in front of a PC at home or the office or on a Web-enabled PDA on the go.
Also, the amount of content segmentation online is much higher than in print, given the economies of producing content for smaller audiences. Simply put, online you don't have to figure out a business model that will scale to reach a very large audiences; instead, you can launch a segmented publication for a relatively low budget that, once it scales, generates higher and higher margins of return.
This is one of the key reasons that Dow Jones has backed away from plans to make The Wall Street Journal free online. Subscribers have proven they're willing to pay for the type of content the publication provides, while advertising remains a very cyclical business and the growing number of media on which ads can be displayed is making competition for ads increasingly fierce. Given that, it's important to always put online outlets into your public relations plans. Another great thing about online outlets is that they generate a large number of referrals to your Web site and other online content and you can find out where the visitors are coming from, something that's much harder to do in print -- at least on a real-time basis.