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Online copy – an evolving science

24-December-2004
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Online copy – an evolving science

How different is online copy from the copy that’s floated in dailies and magazines? Are users likely to dwell much on internet copy, as opposed to visuals? Are there segregated units within advertising agencies dedicated to the cause of internet alone? Are marketers seeking creative solutions specifically for the internet or are they giving the medium short shrift?

For the internet medium, the barriers are many. Many participants in the process have come to believe that words don't play a very important role. So there are some convictions and assumptions to overcome. As a result of their exclusion from the development of the early online business, there is a significant lack of good copywriters with deep online expertise. And those copywriters that have been hurriedly drafted in from their duties as advertisement and brochure writers often don't understand the unique demands of writing for commerce online.

Says Ravi Deshpande, Head, Lemon Communications, “Online copy needs to be attractive, short and to the point. This is one medium where visuals play a very important role (graphics, banners, animation and so on), which is why technical expertise plays an important role. A cut-copy-paste job of print ads cannot work anymore, as the requirements of this medium are distinct from that of the others.”

Deshpande reasons that since this is a fairly new medium, most creative agencies are unsure of how to adequately deal with it, which is why most of the creative work dedicated to this medium is sourced from external outfits. “In time, agencies would spin off separate divisions which would host sufficient expertise and experience (technical and otherwise) within the field of online advertising,” he said.

Josy Paul, Country Head, RMG David, asserts that online creatives ought to be attractive, interactive and have an element of play in them. “We haven’t had the opportunity of doing much work as far as online advertising is concerned, but whatever little has been done on this front leads us to believe that the internet is a potent medium but has a series of requirements of its own. Online copy ought to be interactive (coupled with images, animation and so on) and have an element of games to attract users to click and get hooked. It needs to be attractively written and should give the message in a snappy and quick manner,” he said.

Are marketers going out of their way to seek internet solutions? Paul replies, “Well, they are displaying a lot more interest than they used to. They have come to recognise the power of this medium, and the kind of business sense it would make to invest in online creatives.”

On his part, Pratap Suthan, National Creative Director, Grey, believes that when broadband becomes the norm in India; none of the agencies would be in a position to handle the requirements of the business. “Agencies haven’t yet woken up to the implications of this medium. Here you have a mix of all that’s offered by television, radio and print. Which is why it makes sense to have a creative team that firmly understands the art of copywriting for the internet medium and tailors solutions accordingly,” he emphasised.

Surveys have established that most web users look at a web page for only three to 15 seconds before deciding whether to stay or move on. The fact that they look at copy first has major implications for any brand. Fancy graphics won't make a prospect stay on a particular website. But a really strong headline and strong sub-heads will, believe online experts. In other words, agencies need to have a set of people who can decipher the requirements of the online medium and furnish copy accordingly.

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