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INTERNET, ONLINE, DIGITAL
OR 'E' MARKETING?

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What's in a name - is it Internet, online, digital or e-marketing? Or maybe you like some of those that have already come and gone - there are books on university library shelves with titles of 'web marketing', 'www marketing', cyber marketing or similar.

Like everything else, I have an opinion on this issue - and that is that it doesn't really matter because they are, effectively, the same thing. Or are they? And whilst I don't really care from a personal point of view - like the e-commerce or e-business argument - from a professional [that is, academic] standpoint, perhaps we do need to determine what each term means so that we can teach the subject. It would also make recruitment in the real world more straight forward if the title in a job ad can be matched not only to the job itself, but the folk seeking that job.

I tend to favour 'e-marketing', but that's based on my own habits and that it fits in with all the other 'e' prefixed terms. The downside is that, like the other 'e' applications nearly everything we do now is 'electronic' in some way - making the term more generic being specific to Internet-based marketing.

digital

It is for this reason that I am currently favouring 'Internet marketing' because it limits the scope of the practice to the use of the web and email. A downside to this is whether we include Internet technology in with the definition - in which case it includes [for example] what some call mobile marketing, that is the use of mobile devices as a medium for marketing communications.

Online marketing is the term used in the title of the book for which I am co-author. I seem to recollect that in the original proposal it 'web marketing' that was used in the title. For the time being, I think that the general public associate 'online' with the Internet - but things might change as new technology and devices become available.

I must admit I don't really like 'digital' - yet there are some heavy hitters out there who prefer the term. The problem I have is that in 2007 most [if not all] of the various media used for marketing communications uses digital rather than analogue technology. Therefore 'digital' could refer to not only Internet-based marketing, but media such as TV and radio as well.

It could well be that the future will see a specialist arm of marketing called 'digital' which is then sub-divided into the various digital elements - the web, email, mobile and so on. Given that the likes of Google are actively pursuing partnerships with 'offline' media providers, maybe one day we will see Google Adsense ads appearing on more than just the Internet - your digital TV channel perhaps? If that is the case then TV ad folk will need to brush up on keywords and the like that are already familiar to e-marketers.

Like many definitions in the 'e' world that has developed over the last dozen or so years - time and common usage will eventually determine by what name we come to know some practices, models and concepts - and that includes Internet, online, digital or e-marketing.

I wrote the comments above around January 2007. In March I came across the Google blogoscoped - a tool which gives details of the age range of folk who search on certain terms. I got the following results for the various suffixes mention above. Least popular was Internet marketing which peaked in the 18-20 year old group. Most popular [by a long way] was digital marketing with similar popularity across the age range. In second place was online marketing, which peaked in the mid-20s. It is at 3, 4 and 5 that things get complicated. With similar age ranges - early 20s to early 30s - we have emarketing, e-marketing and e marketing in that order. Add them all up and they match 'digital' in the number one spot. Having considered the three 'e' variations only as an after-thought, I then put a dash after digital, online and Internet. Online-marketing is rarely used except by 14-16 year olds, who like it. Internet-marketing is similarly ignored, but for some reason 26 year olds like it. The surprise was with digital-marketing. In its own right it would come in the top three list, and combining it with digital [without the dash] makes it the winner by far.

Of course, we do not know the specifics of the sample [eg industry workers or online shoppers] or exactly what the users were looking for when they used these search terms [eg a searcher using 'digit marketing' might be looking for iTV related pages, rather than 'Internet related information], but it makes interesting reading - I'll put 'most popular term' on my list of 'research I must do one day'.

Continued I ...
A year or so after I wrote the comments shown above, I signed a contract to write a new book on the subject. And do you know what one of the biggest problems that I had in it development? Yep ... the title. The publishers pushed for 'Digital Marketing', but I wasn't so keen. I did lots of research into this - and for sure 'digital' was certainly the 'in phrase' [as my research on blogoscoped last year suggested]. However, as I say in the preface to the book:

' My thinking is that Ďdigitalí covers so much more than just the Internet. As we near the end of the first decade of the twenty first century, all media use digital technology. Those rotating adverts around the side of the pitch at major sporting venues, the ad on the bus or train, on the treadmill at a health club, in the lift, even those promotional messages in rest rooms - all digitally transmitted and part of what is being dubbed 'out-of-home advertising'. And thatís before we consider digital TV and radio. Sadly, apart from the basics that any marketing lecturer should know, I have little specialist knowledge on any of these aspects of the discipline. Furthermore, I had no intention of covering such subjects in this book. This book is about marketing on the Internet - so it's called Internet Marketing. In reality, however, I donít suppose it really matters, and I am certainly not saying that everyone should adopt my way of thinking. Perhaps us Internet/e-/online/digital marketers should get our act in order?

So there you go, if you buy Internet Marketing - a Practical Approach [and please do, I have a massive mortgage to pay] - you will find that it concentrates on all of those aspects of marketing that use the Internet.

Continued II ...
Fast forward to September 2008, and I have been asked to develop another book. Not an academic text this time, but the subject is the same. Well, nearly the same. This time the book is to have digital in the title - and so I have to decide what I will include in its content. The publishers are open to suggestions - I'll let you know how it goes. November 09 that book is now out - and it is called the Digital Revolution. Yes, I know, go figure. To see what I included in it follow the link from its title.

Continued III ...
May 2014 - the second edition of my Internet Marketing: a Practical Approach, is called DigitalMarketing: a Practical Approach. Ho hum :-)

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