NEW-MEDIA BENEFITS STILL A THORNY ISSUE

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If a new survey is any indication, marketers and consumers have very different thinking on interactive media.

According to the first I-Way Quarterly survey from Visual Research Communications, Metuchen, N.J., the issue consumers are most likely to agree with -- that the information superhighway will further separate the rich from the poor -- is one marketers are least likely to agree with.

Business respondents in general are more interested in interactive media than consumers. Only 22% of consumers said they were very interested in the subject, compared with 56% of business people. Of the 347 consumers surveyed who use online services, 57% are "very interested" in interactive media, more in line with business opinion.

"In general, the business influencers are ahead of consumers in terms of [assessing] how much importance this will have," said Visual Research Managing Partner Kevin Lonnie. "They're probably more educated because they have to be."

Results are based on a mail survey of 3,872 consumers, conducted in September and October with help from NFO Research, and a telephone survey of 200 middle- to senior-level marketing executives, conducted in October and November. Margin of error is 1.6 percentage points for the consumer survey and 6.9 points for the business survey.

Marketers also have less enthusiasm for advertising on demand than for other ways of reaching consumers interactively. Only 14% of business respondents said ads on demand were extremely important to marketing.

And while 34% of business respondents said they had access to the Internet at work, only 5% said they'd consider themselves extremely familiar with it.

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