By Steve Reside

According to Jeffery Cole, USC Professor and director of a long-term study of the “Impact of Computers and the Internet on Society”, 78% of the U.S. population over 12 years of age use the Internet regularly, and half of those shop on-line. This is a staggering number of people — a staggering number of prospects.

With such a large community on-line and available to receive a company’s message, it’s amazing that, according to Cole, only 5% of all advertising dollars are spent on Web-based marketing. The vast majority of corporate advertising still goes to more traditional vehicles such as television and print. In Cole’s estimation, a more effective strategy would be for companies to allocate between 10 and 12% of their advertising dollars to the Internet — where people are actively searching for information to inform their next purchase.

The continued movement of people to the on-line world isn’t going unnoticed by big brand companies. IBM, Adidas and Dell are just a few of the companies trying to tap into on-line communities such as Second Life and Entropia Universe. And Mich Mathews, Microsoft’s Senior Vice President of Marketing recently stated that the bulk of its nearly $1 billion in U.S. advertising spending will be in the digital world by 2010.

So how are you spending your advertising dollars? Are you seeking greener on-line pastures, or are you continuing to use the same methods you always have to get your message out — trying to reach an audience that, increasingly, isn’t there to hear it anymore.

(Steve Reside is the Creative Director of market2world communications inc., Canada's Web 2.0 tech product launch and public relations agency.)