This is the version suitable for media publication of the journal article
"Major Television Advertisers Make Too Little Use of the Internet -- So Last Century. SoLastCentury.com!" from the March 23, 2004 premier issue of the online journal Psychology Of The Internet .com.
Major Television Advertisers Make Too Little Use of the Internet -- So Last Century. SoLastCentury.com!
Consumers are ready to visit Internet websites for products advertised on television, but TV advertisers are not doing the right things to get them there, says Psychologist Susan Griffith, in the new online journal Psychology of the Internet. Commercials need to speak domain names aloud, make the names relevant and memorable (like Broadzilla.com for broadband or LowCarbOJ.com), and tell the consumer what is at the website for them, for example, coupons.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina March 23, 2004--Consumers hungry for special deals or a break from the boredom of work (or of a low-carbohydrate diet) are ready to visit Internet websites for products advertised on television, but TV advertisers are not doing the right things to get them there. Even the huge 2004 Super Bowl TV audience, primed to go online to bet on the game and even to vote for their favorite commercials, did not visit advertisers' websites in great numbers.
Americans aren't either television watchers or Internet surfers -- they are both. And, just as they 'channel surf', they also use the faster broadband connections of today to quickly check out new web addresses that sound interesting or useful -- sometimes even to relax while in the middle of a workday project. These self-selected website visitors don't feel they were pressured to visit, so they're receptive to advertising messages. And they still today are not Internet-jaded -- they enjoy telling others about the sites they find and like. They will recommend a website much more often than they will recommend a product.
"Advertisers are missing a huge opportunity to influence shopping behavior," observes psychologist Susan D. Griffith, Ph.D. in the premier issue of the online journal Psychology of The Internet. "Just because you don't sell your product online does not mean you should neglect the power of the Internet."
Why don't viewers visit advertiser's websites? "Because no one tells them to. Because they can't remember where to go. And because they have been given no reason to go." says Dr. Griffith..
Website addresses written small are often hard to see -- certainly not easily visible on the small televisions in kitchens and bedrooms. "We have a website" often seems to be the only message, Dr. Griffith says. "The Internet address has replaced the telephone number as essential information, like a legal notice. That doesn't help sales."
"Speak the web address in your commercials -- say it aloud," recommends Dr. Griffith. "Hardly anybody sits looking at the television through the whole program and all the commercials." notes Dr. Griffith. And few people have laptop computers online and open on their laps as they watch TV. "A well-spoken web address might even be heard in the kitchen -- or the bathroom!" And a spoken web address is more likely to be remembered, at the time and later, when the consumer is at the computer.
Consumers need to be invited to a website. Enticed. A "letterhead" domain name is not enticing. Nor is the business-card-like website at the business-like address. A letter- or brochure-looking website can be appropriate for business contacts, Dr. Griffith says, "though it is surprising how hard it is to reach executives through the company website. It makes me wonder exactly who is supposed to use some websites.
Domain name consultation businesses like Dr. Griffith's Profidant.com and GrowPuppy.com, "'design' memorable and appropriate domain names, but we also think up additional features that might entice a website surfer", se says. "We are confidential about our dealings, but we can make public some suggestions not taken yet -- 'Free soup spoon at SoupScoop.com', 'Contest to describe our new beer most eloquently at LowCarbBeers.com', 'Messy milk science experiments for children at WhoLetTheCowsOut.com', and 'Jokes about cellphones at NoBullMobile.com.' "
We tell advertisers: "Get consumers to the website and then give them what will make them buy your product -- not what will make him want to hire your website builder," relates Dr.Griffith. A flashy website, like flashy Super Bowl commercial, is not a guarantee of greater sales. (How many visitors elect to use the "skip intro" button? And how many wished they had? Or left in the middle?)
"A visitor to a website is very, very valuable. She has her fingers on a keyboard; she came of her own accord; she may be relaxing online, getting away from work or children. Maybe she will print off a coupon. Maybe she will leave her address at the website. Maybe, just maybe, a website can be a place to gather a million email addresses - maybe even a million snail mail addresses -- of people who have already chosen to visit your brand.
To get the visitors, the website name, said aloud, should be memorable. "That also means spellable," adds Dr. Griffith. Words and letters are more important online. There is no familiar blue and yellow package staring out at customers from a shelf. Even when a brand is well-known it can be a tremendous asset to use additional domain names beyond the trademark. Consumers at a keyboard may not be thinking of your brand, but may replay the website name in their head -- "if it is a memorable name that reminds them of what you want them to be reminded," says Dr. Griffith.
"Television viewers may think, 'Now that the crowd has gone and I'm alone, I can check out that new sexual functioning drug. Hmm, what was its name? I couldn't write it down during the Super Bowl party, could I? Oh, the commercial said to check 24HourImpotenceDrug.com! Here it is. And there's a list of doctors and a coupon!' or 'That new cool wireless broadband service, what was it? Oh, yeah, Broadzilla.com!' or 'I need to get some things deliveredl. Now, what was that name the guys were laughing about? Oh, TruckedUp.com!' or 'Where can I get pictures online for the school project? I know there's a fee, but I need this quick. Here it is, SeePeople.com!' " The name doesn't have to refer to your main advertising theme. "QuickCoolWine.com alone would add a whole dimension to a commercial for wine in cans (Australia has it) and that web address can take customers directly to the usual website for the wine, with lots of features to encourage sales."
"How many times does your second search for red shoes, when you are finally ready to buy, lead you to a different site from the one you were on the first time you searched?" Search engines are effective in sending motivated traffic for a first-time visit." But a really good domain name brings back return visitors.
"If the people who are registering your domain names are technology or legal staff, you are using people whose perspective is not advertising to make major advertising decisions. So last century!".
And it is also so last century for advertising agencies to think that they are not being creative if they need to buy a domain name from someone who has pre-registered it. It's the actual use of the name that is creative this century, not merely its registration.. And the controversy about domain squatting that keeps others non-creative -- that was about trademarks, which are protected, not the legitimate buying and selling of legitimate domain names of this century.
After all, "there are few great domain names remaining unregistered." That's not surprising, given that there are only 26 English letters -- and only a very limited number of combinations of those letters that make any sense for any specific use, she adds. "That's like having available in the entire English-speaking world only one sign that says the name of your product or company, or what you want to convey in a domain name." That situation is becoming more apparent to some advertisers now, Dr. Griffith believes, "and the rest will have to catch up."
Many registrants of domain names, who, like Dr. Griffith's Profidant.com, may have registered them for potential use by clients, will sell them rather than hold on to them. And buyers are becoming aware that they, too, can resell the domain names they don't use. Advertisers are more likely than in the past to buy multiple names to point to the same website, but "it is so surprising that multiple domain names are so much more common for lower-budget advertising programs."
The cost of Internet domain names is small, even when bought from a reseller, compared with any reasonably-sized advertising campaign. A sign for one building where the public is not wanted, will cost thousands. An Internet "building" that attracts attention and increases sales is infinitely more valuable. But, "it's up to advertisers to make use of the value of the Internet in the twenty-first century."
Susan D. Griffith, Ph.D.