Ecommerce advertising: Online has its own rules baby

While at the Online Retail Conference last week in Cape Town, Danie Strachan from Adams and Adams gave a very succinct presentation on the CPA (Consumer Protection Act) and POPI (Protection of Personal Information). Filled with this information, I’m pretty sure many retailers went and made a few small changes to their offerings to legalise them. All good.

But the online world has its own set of rules. You may very well be abiding by the laws of your country, but not those of the internet. Or vice versa. Here are just a few ways that you can either “get away with murder” or “get murdered”.

Putting your advertising inside a competitor’s store

I’ve mentioned this before in an article somewhere, but imagine standing inside Woolworths and scanning a 2l bottle of Coke, only to find it’s R5 cheaper in Pick ‘n Pay down the corridor. Since almost 50% of shoppers are proven to walk out the store for a 2,5% discount, this means Pick ‘n Pay has just pulled off a great guerilla attack.

PriceCheck’s presentation showed that it’s key to be on its platform – customers are scanning a bar code in stores roughly once a minute. Their platform now boasts 170 000 unique views a month and counting. Stores cannot afford not to be on PriceCheck; their strategy must now depend on how they price their goods and their loyalty programmes.

Comparative advertising is now legal — what?

A team from Google showed us some recent statistics on how eCommerce is booming in South Africa, purely due to keywords targeted and the CPC price increase.

Though not new at all, Google’s display network also allows for something called re-advertising, which means that if you click on a banner advert and visit a website and don’t buy, you are then shown that advert more often to induce you to go back and buy. It makes the online retailer look much bigger than they are to the right people.

Simply put, if you’ve been in a store, you’re an advertising target, and this also explains people exclaiming: “Ja, Zando, I see their ads everywhere online!”

Follow customers everywhere

Companies can track the whole “purchase funnel”, following you from when you enter their site, all the way through to how often you come back to buy, what you buy, how you buy it and so on. Sometimes they even know where you went afterwards.

Spam me and die

Strachan explained how unfortunately spam is still not properly regulated and people get away with simply adding your email address to their list and repeatedly sending you messages. The rules of the web are different. Other than a ISPA Hall of Shame listing and email being sent to the spambox, you will also alienate yourself from customers. In short, while you skip the fines and prison time that the future law will provide, spammer tactics will never get companies to win in the long run.

Losing control of the discussion

While there are hundreds and thousands of resources and companies that claim they can notify you and handle your social media crises, social networks will always have a life of their own. Furthermore, the law may not even come into play even if relevant. A customer will rarely have an outburst in-store. But on the internet…

Companies and individuals alike need to stay alert and get streetwise. The unwritten law of the web is quite a different landscape, and while many online sites scramble to update their Terms and Conditions pages, they would perhaps do better to learn about the way things work in the land of the internet.



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