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Narrowcasting

NARROWCASTING

Since the earliest days of advertising, it has been challenging for marketers to reach highly targeted groups with promotional messages about products and services. Printed publications represent one long-established channel for doing this. Television initially was very broad in its reach, and it was necessary for advertisers to time communications based on the groups that were most likely to watch during different timeframes (women during the day, families during the evening, and so on). The emergence of cable television eventually made it possible for marketers to be more specific about where they concentrated their messages. Subscription-based channels became very focused on specific areas of interest or ethnicity. Reaching audiences via this targeted approach is known as narrowcasting.

Narrowcasting is a technique that translates well to the Internet and has strong implications for e-commerce. Although the Internet itself is generally broad in nature, in terms of access to information, it also can be a very targeted medium for marketers. When consumers provide demographic information about themselves, it becomes possible for marketers to customize the advertising and content they see or receive. For example, although thousands of people may listen to the very same Internet radio broadcast, the commercials they hear can be tailored based on details they have provided regarding ethnicity, geography, income, sex, hobbies, occupation, and more. Fewer marketing messages are directed toward people who have no interest in hearing or seeing them. Permission-based e-mail marketing is another means of narrowcasting. In this scenario, companies build lists of individuals who want to receive promotional information via e-mail, and communications are sent accordingly.

As technology evolves and more Internet users switch to high-speed broadband connections, the value of the Internet as a multimedia promotional tool grows. It is becoming increasingly feasible for marketers to use targeted streaming video and audio messages, as opposed to static banner ads or text-only e-mail messages. Short streaming video films, for example, have evolved into a growing form of entertainment for many Internet users, and a source of lucrative marketing opportunities for companies.

FURTHER READING:

Brady, Mick. "Lights, Camera, E-Commerce!" E-Commerce Times, March 23, 2000. Available from www.ecommercetimes.com.

Lounsbury, Erik. "Transforming a Transparent Eyeball." Customer Inter@Ction, March 2001.

"Streaming Ad Market to Take Off with Broadband Adoption." CyberAtlas, June 21, 2001. Available from www.turboads.com.

SEE ALSO: Advertising, Online

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