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7 — Online marketing and consumer habits

This sequence is the first in a series of four that explores evolving technologies and the changing nature of consumer culture, and the notion of the ethical consumer. In this sequence, the students will explore the ways that online marketing has changed our consumer habits. With the advent of smartphone technology and the use of ever more portable devices connected to the internet, consumer culture has changed significantly. New technology has also meant that the language of advertising has evolved, with phrases such as ‘going viral’ and ‘QR codes and readers’ becoming part of our vernacular. ACELA1528

This sequence draws on the General Capabilities of Literacy, Information and Communication Technology, and Critical and Creative Thinking.

Photograph of passengers on a commuter train, some with smart phones and one reading a newspaper

Above: Smart phones and paper, photo by Niels Dejgaard CC-BY-NC 2.0

The Google story

Google (which provides a search engine facility to millions of users per day) has been labelled the most visited website on Earth. It does not charge people to use the service, yet it is one of the most profitable companies in the world. So why is Google so successful? Share the Google story from Secrets of the Superbrands: Episode 1 – Technology (from 42:12 onwards) as a lead-in to this sequence.

Note: Episode 1, unlike the other two episodes in the series, is rated M and contains some sexually explicit content that may not be suitable for this age group. While the segments referred to in this sequence have been deemed appropriate by the author, you should use caution with the viewing of further content.

Activity 1: Ad search

Access to devices with an internet connection is required for this activity. The students are to use the Google search engine for five search topics that result in at least three sponsored ads coming up. Ask the students:

Activity 2: My experience with online marketing

Ask the students to work with a partner or in small groups to share examples of the online advertising techniques that they have witnessed or experienced (it might also be useful to allow access to networked technology to assist in this activity). Encourage them to think about the benefits as well as the implications of these advertising techniques. Students can use the Online marketing survey worksheet to document their thoughts. They can then share their examples and experiences with the rest of the class. 

Now watch the segment on mobile phones from Secrets of the Superbrands: Episode 1 – Technology (from 36:00 to 42:12). Ask the class why it is suggested that superbrand company and number one maker of mobile phones in the world, Nokia, might be in trouble.

Activity 3: Quick write 

In contrast to Nokia, the Samsung company has seen a surge in phone sales with the promotion of their Galaxy series of mobile phones. Share some clips from the Samsung Australia YouTube channel. Like the vox pops in Secrets of the Superbrands, where people on the street are asked, ‘If X company was a person, what would they be like?’, ask the students to complete a profile for Samsung. Students can share their responses with the class. Ask them if there are any further ideas that can be added to the Online marketing survey worksheet after watching these clips.

Activity 4: Changing habits

Ask the students to identify how our consumer habits have changed because of technology by posing the question: How have our consumer habits changed because of online access and new technologies?

Encourage the students to think of products and services that can now be accessed online that once required very different methods. For example:

Based on student lists, as well as the ideas presented above, the students can prepare for and participate in a series of whole class or small group mini debates, based on the idea of which is better: the online purchasing method or the traditional method.

The language of on-line advertising

Throughout this unit, the students have encountered many familiar and unfamiliar terms (for example, advertising, print, slogan, logo, media, product, service, brand, endorsement, bandwagon and consumer). Explain that with new technology and new marketing ideas, new terms have also emerged. ACELA1528

Share the following examples and then ask the students to think of some more new terms that have been added to the language:

Ideas that have gone viral

In 2012 the ‘Gangnam Style’ craze went viral, thanks to YouTube and social networking: both forums for mass marketing. The song, by Korean artist PSY, spread around the world and became an instant number one in many countries. Parodies soon followed and the craze led to many celebrities and sports stars dancing Gangnam style at celebrity events and sporting occasions.

This Volkswagen advertisement gained huge success after airing during an American Super Bowl football game. Fans of the ad then shared the clip via YouTube. The concept and story was clever and the ad became more famous for the story told rather than the product being sold (which in turn received lots of free air time).

In 2009 Queensland Tourism launched a highly successful campaign advertising the job of a lifetime: to be a caretaker for a Queensland island and to be paid to let others know about the beauty of this region. Watch the video advertisement montage for this ad campaign. A simple classified ad was placed in big newspapers around the world calling for applicants to submit a 60-second video résumé stating why they should get the job. The interest was so great that local news programs picked up the idea to share as a news story. People from around the world uploaded their 60-second video résumés to YouTube. The idea went viral.

Ongoing tasks

It is envisaged that students will be beginning to present their fad campaigns at this point in the unit. They can also update their Digital advertising glossary worksheets with entries for online advertising and going viral.