Marketing & the Internet: 1997

Professor John M. McCann
Fuqua School of Business
Duke University
Last update: March 21, 1997
This 1997 version of Marketing and the Internet is changed from the 1996 version. Whereas the 1996 version featured the development of Web pages, the 1997 version has dropped that requirement and focuses much more on marketing.


The goal of this course is to prepare students to become leaders of your firm's Internet-based business strategies, tactics, and implementation. To do that, you must know

Course Theme

The theme of the course is that technologies such as microprocessors and fiber optics are primary change enablers; they are technologies that are enabling managers and entrepreneurs to make dramatic changes. These technologies are leading to a digital dawn that is giving us the Internet and related products and services. This digital dawn is impacting the media, the way we live, and the way we work. Finally, marketing is changing to accommodate these technology, media, and societal developments. Details of this theme are presented in my CyberTrends Web page.

Teaching and Learning Considerations

Most courses in business school are based upon topics that have been with us since at least the 19th century, such as economics, finance, psychology, management, marketing, manufacturing, and statistics. The professors who teach these courses have studied and researched their fields for long periods of time, and there is a long history of course development and delivery behind almost all of our courses. Professors in almost all of those courses can select from an array of textbooks and dozens of Harvard cases. Those textbooks build upon decades of published research, and the Harvard cases flow from field research that cost about $25,000 per case. In those courses, the professor is the expert and the students are the novices who must acquire some of the professor's expertise.

This course involves topics that do not have any of the traditions that underlie most business school courses. For all practical purposes, the Internet is a 1990's service and "marketing on the Internet" is certainly in its infancy ... a newborn baby. There are no academic journal articles, no textbooks, and no Harvard cases. And there are no real experts, primarily because 1) the Internet is still being invented, 2) it is part of a larger "digital dawn" that is creating a "digital era," and 3) the marketing and business models that will succeed in this new digital era have yet to be invented.

Although it is likely that I have more knowledge and expertise that others in the classroom, I do not have any thing close to a monopoly of knowledge and expertise about the Internet, the technology developments that are creating the digital era, the business models that flow from these developments, and the ways people will live, work, and learn in the coming decades. A significant part of our learning will be experiential in the sense that we will be exploring the Internet and sharing our learning with each other. Therefore, it is very important that each student in this course recognize that much of the learning will come from all of us in the room.

I view my job as providing articles and assignments that will allow you to generate a new understanding that you can then share and discuss with others in the class, leading and directing that class discussion, providing in-class activities (lectures, videos, and speakers) that can add knowledge and/or generate discussion, and evaluating the contribution of each student to the course. Whereas this is the mode in most marketing courses, it is even more important in this course that each student takes responsibility for the learning process because of the variety and newness of the topics being considered.

Daily Assignments and Class Sessions

The document Readings and Discussion Questions contains a list of reading for each course, along with Discussion Questions for each reading. Each student must read each assigned article and be prepared to discuss the questions in class (and any others posed during class by students or the professor).
Business Models
Our readings, videos, and lectures will highlight various business models and strategies for making money on, with, or through the Internet. However, these assignments are likely to reveal a small fraction of the approaches that firms are applying. Each student should prepare a description of a business model being applied by a firm of your choice, and present your ideas in a class session, along with leading us through a visit of the firm's web site.
Class Sessions
Class time will be devoted to discussing the reading, visiting corporate WWW pages and discussing corporate uses of the Intenet, watching and discussing videos and lectures, and interacting with visitors. Each class will open with a few students taking us on a visit of a web site that illustrates a particular business model or stategy.


Grades will be based upon three activities:

Class participation25%
One exam25%
Project Paper50%