And when that online experience doesn't measure up, as is so often the case, it doesn't matter how creative the idea or how extensive the media spend, people are just not going to buy.
Now, before we buy almost anything, we seek out comparisons in performance, price, customer service and after sales support. This change in behaviour affects every business, brand, product or service. It also calls into question the advertising business model. How does it add value online exactly?
Customers have a choice
Sitting between seeing an advert and making a purchase is the online experience. And it's an experience that often doesn't meet expectations. However memorable or stimulating a TV commercial or a magazine spread might be, consumers increasingly make their decisions to purchase based on their online experience, on the product detail available, on the belief and confidence the website gives them in the brand and of course, the word of other customers.
Companies that fail to grasp the importance of the online experience for their customers and that don't invest in content or integrate their communications, will soon find those customers have deserted them and gone where they will be valued.
Disappointment is no basis for business
We've all been there. You see an advert, find the website but then you can't find the information you want. Where are the decent product shots? Why is the product description only five words long. No dimensions? Colours? What about finish and material?
Worse still when you Google the product you find a site where somebody has posted a message saying, "Don't buy this, it's rubbish".
So even where the advertising effort hits home and the desire to buy is highly stimulated, if the online experience lets users down then that's the advertising budget blown, game over.
The advertising industry doesn't want to hear that their efforts will eventually be directed towards promoting the internet. But that's where we're heading. And when this day comes, top of the pile of customer needs will not be brand or price, but user experience. Online, in use, after sales and support.
Online shoppers have a huge choice, they can immediately find and see what the competition have to offer and, if the experience is better, then it really is game over.