Living Under a Rock?

Masha hit upon this the other day and I've been bummed out ever since. Obviously I eat, sleep and breathe in a digital world. Let me explain. If you haven't heard or paid attention to the phrase "Net evaders" you may now. Pew Internet & American Life Project recently conducted a survey that found 42% of Americans do not use the Internet.

The survey found that most of these Net evaders have family that go online or know where Internet access could be available to them. However, they are still living in the offline world. Why? Good question.

Well, even though the price of computers has gone down significantly, a third say it is too costly for them. Twenty four percent say they have really nothing to do with the Internet. Twenty seven percent say few or none of the people they know are online. Twenty percent are workaround people. They have someone go online and print out something for them. Yikes. Are they living under a rock?



Seems to me that just about every library has computer stations. Most schools do as well. Forty percent of these folks say they do want to go online in the future.

Let's face it; we look for the most appealing forms of rich media while watching the penetration of PVRs. We can't wait for the day when WAP advertising will gain in popularity and look cool, and streaming audio and video will be everywhere. There's a bunch of us waiting for broadband to become mainstream, all while there is a staggering amount of people who aren't even online. Maybe they will just jump onto broadband and skip the whole dial-up hoopla altogether. Just like some of the people you hear about in third-world countries: they don't have phones but they have cell phones.

I guess after all these years of talking about gearing your online advertising efforts to the lowest common denominator this is it kids. This is as low as we can go. I never thought I'd have to say it but make sure your audience is online prior to advertising to them.

Sure, there are close to a half a billion people worldwide that go online daily. Lets not forget that is a healthy number. It's not our job as advertisers, sales people, and vendors to focus on those who "don't."

Why doesn't one of the 800-lb gorillas design a campaign to target them? All you hear about these days is the increased use of home access. There are all sorts of ISP wars. If AOL is going to poly bag an 8.0 CD onto a cereal box, who's covering the step before? Where are IBM, HP, and Dell in all of this? It shouldn't be the responsibility of the AOL's, Microsoft's, and Yahoos of the world, should it? I'm raising my hand to get a little help here. Does it make sense for them to solely focus on those who "do" versus those who "don't?" Do they even care?

The wake-up call is that the Internet is not ubiquitous. There remains a digital divide. The Net is still largely comprised of younger, higher income, higher education, suburban and urban people. This doesn't mean that online advertising isn't effective or an efficient way to target many. The bottom line is, what about the 40%? It's not my job to go get 'em...

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