HOLD ON, STEP BACK A MINUTE. WHO IS GOING TO DO ALL THIS STUFF FOR ME?
Generally, if a company -- an e-commerce site, for example -- is looking to develop a larger online presence, it would make sense to build some sort of team in-house while also working with an outside group to develop the initial concepts and work on technical specifications. For smaller projects it makes more sense to look to an outside team as opposed to committing resources to internal development.
In terms of working with digital agencies vs. traditional agencies, Ms. Bodine warned that traditional agencies often will hand off the work to a subcontractor. "While traditional agencies might be adept at advising clients at other types of marketing, the understanding of what makes for a good interactive experience is a different skill set," she said. But, Ms. Bodine added, "the landscape is shifting. That might not be the case in 12 to 18 months. These holding companies are adding a lot of firms with digital capabilities."
VIDEO IS REALLY HOT RIGHT NOW. DOES THAT MEAN I SHOULD HAVE IT ON MY SITE?
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SILVERLIGHT?
Silverlight is not nearly as ubiquitous as Flash yet. But this summer should serve as a coming-out party of sorts. Microsoft has inked an exclusive deal with NBC to deliver live and on-demand Olympics coverage on MSN using Silverlight. "[Microsoft is] making some pretty big deals to get the player out there," said Steve Gray, technology director at Avenue A/ Razorfish. "And the install is just as friendly as Flash. People forget that way back in the day you had to download Flash, too."
SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT WHETHER SEARCH ENGINES WILL FIND MY SITE IF I USE RICH MEDIA?
IN WHAT SCENARIO SHOULD I CONSIDER A MICROSITE?
HOW DOES THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT RELATE TO THE WEB?
Source: Ad Age DataCenter analysis of 2008 user data from eMarketer, February 2008, and U.S. Census Bureau population figures
Case StudyBorders Group soon will have an online store to call its own. The retailer is set to retake control of e-commerce from Amazon, which has been handling inventory, fulfillment and customer service related to that business since 2001. Execs said the site, which is online in a beta version, will go live during the first quarter, although they declined to provide an exact date.
A plan to bring the site in-house was put into action with the arrival of CEO George Jones in July 2006. Borders also began staffing up internally, adding experts in technology, online operations and online merchandising. By the fall of 2007, a beta site was ready for customer feedback. Mr. Ertell said reactions from customers have been helpful as the site is tweaked in preparation for the launch. Posting the beta site prior to the all-important holiday season also enabled customers to place items on reserve for store pickup, as well as share their wish lists with friends and family.
"We said right off the bat we wanted it to be innovative yet intuitive," Mr. Ertell said. "We wanted to make sure that we had that warmth and inspiration and sense of discovery that you get when you go into one of our stores."
Execs said there are firm metrics in place internally to measure the success of the site based on dollars spent, time spent and overall traffic. So far, the site isn't logging orders, but it is attracting consumers. There has been an average of 4 million unique visitors per month, with more than 5 million unique visitors in February. Mr. Ertell called those numbers "significant" given that the site hasn't been actively promoted. Promotion plans for the launch are still under wraps, although execs said "focused communications" are planned.
When it comes to time spent on the site, Rich Fahle, VP-content, said the numbers are "well above" industry averages of two to three minutes per visit. He credits the immersive quality of the site, which features Borders Book Club, Borders Kitchen and Borders Live at 01, a program that features everything from an interview with Bill Clinton to a performance by Joss Stone. Then there are the Guest Shortlists, where personalities such as Barack Obama weigh in on their favorites, and Borders at the Movies, where consumers can find trailers and interviews with the stars.