Net Ads

"It grew. Fast because it was left to its own
devices and filled unmet needs.... The
explosive growth of the Internet is not a fad
or a fluke, but the result of a digital
free market unleashed."
(Christopher Anderson)

What is the Internet? From where did it come? What changes
in society contributed to its rise? How has the Net, in turn,
impacted American society? And what does the Internet\'s impact
mean to advertisers today and in the future?

This report will explore these questions and other related
issues. Fittingly, much of the research for this account has been
accomplished "on-line" - that is, through the web of information
available on the Internet. Since style manuals have not caught up
to emerging technologies, I have relied on the advice of Physics
Professor Donald Simanek of Lock Haven University regarding
citation of sources. His style guide can be found at http://www.

If we rate media on the basis of advertising dollars spent,
the Internet lags far behind the major media - print and
broadcasting. Nevertheless, thanks to the growing number of
computer literate Americans and the availability of online
services, the Internet is rapidly becoming a player on the
advertising scene.
The Internet is a way for computer users all over the world to
communicate via high-speed modem connections. It is a collection
of information stored in computers physically located throughout
the world. Much of that information is organized onto pages which
users bring up on their computer screens. After discovering a
page\'s contents, the user has the option of bringing up more pages
of information. (Netscape Handbook, 1996)
This remarkable technology did not simply materialize. The
Internet, despite its apparent sudden emergence into public
consciousness, has a long and storied history, involving the
cracking of secret Nazi codes and fighting the Cold War with the
Soviets. Scientists working for the U.S defense department during
World War II created "the precursor" to modern computers, the
Colossus Mark II, which successfully broke sophisticated German
codes. (Huffman, 1996) Later, the Colossus gave way to ENIAC, the
first true electrical computer, and other "number-crunching"
machines. (Ibid)
One distinct weakness of these primitive models was an
inability to share information with other computers. Eventually
individual computers, located primarily at U.S. universities began
to interconnect, or network, their computers with other nearby
universities. The defense department\'s development of the ARPANET
during the Cold War made geography unimportant. Through ARPANET
computer users all over the world could be linked instantaneously
via telephone lines and modems. (Hobbes Internet Timeline, 1994)
"In mid-1993 something new happened: the Internet sprouted
multimedia wings. A combination of special software and a way of
connecting documents allowed users to travel the network with
pictures, sound and video, simply by pointing and clicking a mouse.
Suddenly the light dawned. The Internet was not just a way to send
E-mail and download the occasional file. It could be a place to
visit, full of people and ideas: \'cyberspace\'. It was a new
medium, based on broadcasting and publishing but with another
dimension added: interactivity." (Anderson, July 1, 1995, p. S3)
The growth of the Internet has been nothing short of
phenomenal since then, and advertisers have taken notice.
Awareness of interactive computer software has been increasing
steadily for more than a decade, but "the Internet is stealing the
show". (Fawcett, October 16, 1995.) According to a 1995 Ad Age
survey 82% of those surveyed had heard of the Internet and 44.7%
knew about the World Wide Web, a part of the Internet rich in
multimedia features. Furthermore, "the study found 20.6% of
respondents have tapped into the Internet, just a few points shy of
the 22.6% who say they\'ve used home TV shopping, an elder statesman
by comparison". (Ibid)
Nielsen Media Research, which began studying Internet usage in
1994, reported that in 1995 40% of Americans over the age of 12 had
access to computers. (Nielsen Media Research, July 1996) 10% of
Americans over 16, were online at that time. In their most recent
survey, taken in December 1996 and January 1997, Nielsen reported
that 23% of Americans over 16 are now Internet users, an amazing
rate of growth. At least 50.6 million Americans are now online,
according to Nielsen. (Associated Press, March 13, 1997) "At this
rate, within two years the citizens of cyberspace will outnumber
all but the largest nations." (Anderson, July 1, 1995, p. S4)
Additionally, according to Nielsen, the number of users who have
gone online looking for product information grew from 19% in 1995
to 39% today. Still, only 15% of Internet users have