The online commercial environment is changing traditional assumptions about the practice of mass marketing and consumer behavior. This paper examines how the Internet threatens the amount of control marketers have over the source and character of information presented to consumers about their brands, stores, and services. After examining the threat and its potential importance, a content analysis of hits returned by web searches provides data that reveals the extent of the problem and its character and suggests strategies for marketers to better control the information online shoppers receive about their offerings. The data also suggest a set of issues for further research focusing on how e-consumers search for information on the Internet and how they evaluate information from official and unofficial sources.
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