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There is nothing new in
marketing on the web

LATEST UPDATE: March 2019: I've changed a couple of things to bring this up-to-date [it was originally written around 2005].

It's been a mantra of mine that the Internet has brought nothing new to marketing - only new ways of doing old things. I've been saying it since 1996, and I'm still saying it now. As time passed I thought someone somewhere would come up with something - but no.

Of course digital technology has added to how we go about marketing, but added anything new? No. Check these out ...

Viral marketing? Word of mouth - turbo-charged digital-technology fuelled, but word of mouth nevertheless.

Email marketing? Direct marketing using the Internet as the medium of communication rather than phone, post or fax.

Amazon? It's a book shop. Emphasis on shop. At least it started as a book shop, now it is a shop that sells - it seems - just about anything and everything [I just ordered some daffodil bulbs on the site]. If you want to be picky, I would accept the argument that it is a third-party retailer. But retail = shop.

Social media? Oh please - people have always talked about the products and services they have used or purchased, but now they can communicate with folk all over the world. At the same time. All day, every day. On a multitude of digital platforms.

Ebay? It's an auction. Or part of it is - it seems that most of the site has moved on from the online equivalent of a car boot sale, to being an online shopping mall where most goods offered for sale are simply being retailed, not auctioned. As with Amazon, I now describe ebay as a third-party retailer.

Search engines? A way of finding things. Lots of things. Relatively easily, and very quickly - but folk have always looked for things - and guess what, they often found them.

Behavioural marketing / targeting? - give me a break. See my comments on this page - behavioural marketing - new?

Do I need to point out that online ads are ads. Yes, interactive in that you can click on them to go to a web site - but that is only one technological step past having a phone number on an ad in another media.

And where do you think the term 'brochure-ware website' comes from? Hint - the word 'brochure' kind of gives it away.

I'm going to end by emphasising this issue of nothing new. Those who best know - or knew - how to practice the offline original are good at the online version. Too many [young] Internet marketers think they have to re-invent the wheel. Don't bother. Learn how to use the technology. Learn how to apply that technology. But also learn basic, traditional, good-old marketing.

How to cite this article:
Charlesworth, A. (2006). There is nothing new in marketing on the web. Retrieved [insert date] from

This page was first published around 2006 but has been updated since then
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