Virtual Marketing, its sources of technology, science behind it and stage of adoption. Introduction Technology is the creation utilization and knowledge of tools, equipment, machines, systems or methods used to solve a problem or perform a particular task (Merriam-Webster, 2012). Virtual Marketing is a product of several technologies, combined to create a synergistic effect for the companies.
Search engine optimization, ranking, website indexation, online advertising, and many other virtual sources of marketing come under the umbrella of virtual marketing (www. internet-communication-services. com, 2012). This essay introduces the concept of Virtual Marketing with a brief background and its sources from which it originates. Discussion Virtual marketing stands on the shoulder of the internet and computer. Since the invention of internet in 1973, it has brought myriad breakthrough in many fields including science, education, health care and businesses.
Internet, as today, is a result of successive evolution. Initially neither the internet nor computers were affordable for individuals. Only companies with vast databases could afford it. Also, government used it for their purposes. In fact, US military is one of the first users of internet. Later the computer became smaller, and the internet became faster and affordable. Virtual Marketing, started with simple online brochures or simple web pages highlighting the features of product around 1990. A web page that serves as a brochure, capable of updating the features very quickly.
Later it evolved further, links to purchase were added, and brochures then began to customize according to the history of each user with that web page. This initiated the concept of mass customization, which subsequently applied to production of goods “as well”. Then came a flood of these online brochures, it became almost impossible to get to the page you want if you do not know the exact address. This brought a need for a search engine. Which automatically searched the topic, we wanted. Search engines use to hold a large collection of websites addresses and the subjects of them.
But websites became dynamic; there data get updated more frequently. Then came the modern idea of “key word(s), (marketing. com, 2010). Initially the key word search was random, meaning as soon as user typed the word, search engine use to present a list of all the websites that had those words. Later came the idea of search engine optimization. Every website wanted its name to appear on top of search results. One method was to pay the search engine, and the other was to use the search engine optimization techniques. Virtual advertising is interactive.
It customizes the message itself as per the user interest. Logs are maintained for each user, often in his/her own computer, known as “cookies”. These cookies keep the session details saved in the hard disk. Next time the user login, it automatically recognizes that user and shows the relevant material. One example is of eBay. When a customer shops on a website, data is continually processed and saved, and when the next time the consumer comes, suggestions of related item are displayed, increasing the chance of purchase. Electronic markets are also considered a part of virtual marketing.
Electronic mall is term used for a site which provides access to electronic markets related to different categories. Electronic markets are accessible 24/7. Pure virtual organizations have no tangible existence, like eBay, Amazon etc. while most common of these is click and mortar. Where a company maintains its status of being physical while obtaining the advantages of operating online as well. This all would have been a dream without the advancement and discoveries of science that made it possible. Old computers were of the size of a room.
In order to operate those mammoth systems, required an input of immense energy. It had to be shut down after a while to cool it down. The capacity of storage was mediocre as compared to today’s PCs. Initially Vacuum tubes were used in those computer systems. Later integrated circuits were introduced, which not only reduced the size of those machines but also reduced the power input. Then computers were much smaller, but still it was so costly that only business could afford. The first computer was named “Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC), developed in 1946 by John W.
Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert. After ENIAC came the UNIVAC 1. UNIVAC 1 was the first universal automatic computer, that was widely marketed. UNIVAC 1 received acceptance quickly, as it was installed in a government organization, the US Census Beauru, 1951. These mainframe computers were not fitted for use in homes. After this computer came the mini computers. Minicomputer is term used for successors of mainframe, which were smaller in size. Minicomputers evolved around 1960’s. These computers were cheaper than mainframes and mid-size computers of IBM.
Inspired by the infrastructure and software technology of minicomputers, microcomputers were introduced in the market. The first marketed computer designed with a Microprocessor was “Micra-N”. Apple pioneered the microcomputers and IBM introduced Personal Computer (PC), now used generally (McLeod & George, 2010). However, virtual marketing was not possible without the internet. Internet, short form of internetworking roots back to 1950s. The network became establishing as soon as the early computers were invented. These networks were used to connect mainframes with terminals.
Later in 1970s, APRANET formed a network of networks, connecting many networks to form a complex structure of networks, which led to the development of internetworking protocols. In 1982, the internet as we know today, came into being. But it was not open for commercial use at that time. Connections were given to educational and research institutes. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) began appearing in the late 1980s. Finally, APRANET was decommissioned in 1990s and internet became available for public use in 1995.
The commercialization of internet technology and smaller and faster computers running brought revolution and gave birth to the virtual world. Virtual marketing is one application of these synergistic systems. Online markets, interactive marketing and dynamic web content enabled promotional material gained acceptance very soon. However, initially between, 1984-1988, there was resistance in Europe for widespread use of the internet, and the only networks (intranet) of CERN remained cut off from the big stream of internet. Later around early 1990s its access on widespread became possible in Europe. Segal, 1995) The internet technology started from North America and spread globally. Internet began to spread in around the globe; however, their connectivity with each other was too expensive to form. Push strategy was used for the use IP protocols and unified systems for the connectivity among different networks. (Internet History in Asia, 2005). The form of Virtual marketing includes, Display Advertising, Search Engine marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Referral Marketing, Affiliate Marketing and Content Marketing.
Companies use Display Advertising, which is placing ads or Banner (in digital form) on a third party website for promotional reasons. It is one of the reasons Google survived in early days. Google wanted revenue, and the idea of placing ads came just at the right time. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is used to improve the visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs). There are many ways to do that, one is paid placement, another is contextual marketing. One free technique of doing it is search engine optimization techniques.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is the process of increasing the visibility of a website through non-paid methods, where non-paid means it involves no payment to search engine. Social Media Marketing is also a very common process of attracting traffic to the website. It accomplishes that with the help of social media website like, Facebook, Twitter, and Linked in. Email Marketing, involves sending electronic messages. However, it is debatable that whether this form of unsolicited sending of emails is ethical. Referral Marketing, involves placing the ad of one website on other websites.
Affiliate Marketing, is a method in which the affiliates bring customer with their own marketing efforts. Many revenue models exist for this kind of activities, like, commission, fixed, etc. Virtual Marketing is called virtual since it has no existence in the physical world but it has a huge effect on the physical world for sure. Virtual marketing allows advertisers and marketers tremendous freedom of showing creativity at very reasonable costs. However, it is increasingly getting difficult for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors on the internet.
It will not be wrong, if we say this is the age of information. The combination of computer and the internet has brought a revolution in the field of science, education, health and all other domains of knowledge. However, obvious reason also inhibits its use in the particular situation. One such reason is security. Increasing threat of viruses is a threat to businesses, consumers and governments. The war between virus developer and anti-virus developers seems to be unstoppable. Cybercrime is still not recognized in many countries, which creates doubt regarding who to trust online and whom to trust not.
Many fraud cases are caught every now and then but many still remain unsolved. Another issue is of the privacy, spying activity is increasing day by day. Defense systems are always there, but nothing seems to be invincible. Conclusion Despite all these threats to security and privacy, the idea of virtual marketing has proliferated like nothing else. The key to successful marketing is identifying the needs of customers. Identifying the needs involves understanding the behaviour of individuals and in groups. It involves the application of scientific research methods to understand the behaviour and attitudes.
Internet combined with computer technology has made it easier to do that on this large scale. Virtual Marketing and Virtual companies give flexibility of low cost and 24 hours availability, but it also increases chances of fraud and scam. Regulatory authorities also issue licenses to these websites to carry on their activities. The technology is changing very rapidly, reducing the cost of it, and expanding the limits. The usage of internet and computer, particularly virtual advertising which was not very suitable for some businesses earlier, is now enjoying the freedom of universal suitability.
The only thing that virtual marketing cannot achieve is what we have not thought of.