The Advent of Play and Pursuit

The Advent of Play and Pursuit

Yasmin Ibrahim (Queen Mary University of London, UK)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-189-8.ch006


Multimedia advertising on the internet has demanded that advertisers and marketers become more creative and adventurous in their pursuit of consumers. This chapter argues that the notions of play and pursuit are intrinsic components of persuading consumers to interact and engage with advertising. Online advertising is also simulating game environments to reach consumers through an alternate reality. These techniques elevate play as a persuasive tool to entice consumers and to capture data for advertisers. It tacitly thwarts the assumption that the internet is a space of consumer empowerment and control. Instead it reinforces the hand of capital and uses the architecture and features of the internet to make virtual environments a productive space for advertisers.
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The Growth Of Online Advertising

The internet is increasingly used as an advertising medium and despite the digital divide there has been a vast expansion in internet-based marketing. A worldwide internet advertising spending report by IDC projects that advertising on the internet will total US$106.6 billion in 2011 or 13.6% of the total expenditure across all media ( The United States is expected to lead the world with regard to the total advertising expenditure as well as spending on online advertising with the latter totalling US$45 billion. The report reiterates that most companies recognise that the internet must be incorporated into any comprehensive advertising strategy and presently the mix between traditional and online media involves a high degree of experimentation as marketers test the results of mixing media. Beyond the US, central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa are predicted to experience the fastest growth in online advertising from 2008 till 2011, according to this report.

Similarly, the United Kingdom is the first major economy where advertisers spent more on internet than television advertising in 2009 (Sweney 2009). The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) reveals that this amounted to advertisers spending £1.75 billion in the first six months of 2009 on internet advertising, representing 23.5% of all advertising money spent in the country. This commitment to internet advertising means that it took just a little more than a decade for the internet to become the biggest advertising sector in the UK. Denmark was another country whose advertising revenue on the internet surpassed that of television in early 2009, although the UK remains the only major economy in which this trend has been observed.

Traditional and conventional spaces are seen as struggling to maintain consumer attention in an increasingly mediated world. The media industry is characterised by both monopoly of ownership and by fragmentation of consumer choice. The fragmentation of the television audience and the rise of niche channels and programming have made advertisers review the ways they reach consumers. With a saturation of advertising in different kinds of media consumers view much of these advertisements as ‘clutter’ or ‘junk’. The ability to switch channels and to install filtering software to stop advertising and promotions on the web means marketers have to rise to the challenge of advertising in the world of ubiquitous marketing. Straightforward commercial advertising on television or print has given way to a complex and strategic mix of integrated marketing techniques where a combination of media is used to reiterate messages and reach consumers.

Unlike traditional media new media, including the internet, afford consumers more control with a non-linear access to differentiated content whilst enabling varied forms of sense simulation due to their characteristics (Hoffman & Novak 1995). Such characteristics include interactivity, telepresence, hypermedia and network mobility. Hoffman and Novak (1995: 29) argue that the hypermedia computer-mediated environment signifies a ‘fundamentally different environment for marketing activities compared to traditional media due to the manner in which consumers can exercise unprecedented control over content they interact with’.

The web experience with regard to the consumer is defined as the ‘consumer’s total impression of a website and may entail elements such as searching, browsing, finding, selecting, comparing and evaluating information and would additionally include exposure to a combination of virtual marketing tools which is likely to influence consumer behaviour’ (Constantinides 2004: 113). The web experience itself can be influenced by the design, creative, aesthetic and interactive elements within a website. Undoubtedly, a key element in the success of online marketing is user involvement where involvement is defined as ‘an observable state of motivation, arousal or interest’ (Rothschild 2004: 216). A testimony to experimentation amongst corporate brands is Coca Cola’s strategy to move away from television advertising into video games and DVDs (Grover et al. 2004). Even thoughthe level of online advertising and consumer interaction and trust with online commerce can vary globally, the necessity to experiment with the internet via social networks and virtual domains has increased the need to be creative and playful with online spaces.

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