Ad targeting trends- Major portals losing ground to niche sites


Major portals such as MSN and Yahoo are losing their stronghold on consumer attention with many turning to sites specific to their interest, according to new research. The study, from Mediasyndicator commissioned research with YouGov (1,987 UK adults) in order to discover the types of websites consumers visit for content and the environments in which they are most engaged and open to advertising.

The findings help marketers better understand that generic portals (MSN/Yahoo/AOL etc), despite their overarching reach, are not typically places that consumers choose to visit when seeking information on the things they care about when on the web.

In many cases, these pages are often just default landing pages for online users and are providing little value to consumers. In fact, 51% of visits to consist only of one page view.

The results revealed in Mediasyndicator’s 2012 Vertical Engagement Report, which commissioned YouGov to assess consumer behaviour online, found that 92 per cent of consumers currently visit sites specific to their interests when searching for content on the web.
Additionally, the report finds that 39 per cent of 18-24 year olds, an important online demographic for marketers, are more likely to engage with online advertising if it is relevant to their interests. The results call for advertisers to recognise the different sites consumers’ visit when consuming content on the web, in order to optimise their engagement with audiences online.

Mediasyndicator provided an infographic to accompany the report (shown below)


Environment key to effective engagement

The 2012 Vertical Engagement Report indicates that rather than buying inventory with the widest reach, marketers should be making more investment to ensure they are present on sites specific to consumer interests – through aggregators of inventory that are specific in theme and content – in order to reach them at times they are most engaged and in tune to advertising.

Findings in the report underline this, with 44 per cent of consumers stating they regard these types of sites as providers of reliable sources of information and almost a third (32 per cent) believing they feature more interesting content.

“Traditionally, when consumers opened their web browsers, the first pages they saw were the home pages of major portals, such as AOL, Yahoo or MSN. As such, these sites were considered as prime inventory for advertisers trying to connect with online audiences. As patterns in consumer online media consumption were transformed, consumers’ reliance on these sites has changed.

In fact, recent figures from comScore show that sites such as AOL, for example, experienced a 9.7 per cent drop in unique visitors in just one year between 2011 and 2012. While they still hold a prominent position in the internet’s ecosystem, consumers are themselves evolving the different ways they engage with content online.

The generic nature of these large portals means they no longer hold the significance they once did. These results help demonstrate that consumers are increasingly more engaged with a wider range of sites relevant to their interests as a source of trusted information and entertainment”, said Spyro Korsanos, CEO, Mediasyndicator.

An incidental observation the report also uncovers is that consumers would be more inclined to click and respond to ads if they contained a degree of social endorsement – for example, ads which host customer and community reviews. While this type of ad format is not yet widely available to advertisers, advertising solutions providers should be investing in the necessary innovations to enable this in the future, given that more than half of consumers (52 per cent) are more likely to click an online ad if it contains this type of trusted editorial. This indicates that marketers could consider the value of niche publishers and the use of their positive sentiment across social media to help boost the resonance of advertising across certain verticals, such as consumer technology, where the sharing of reviews by key influencers is paramount to the success of a new product.

“Importantly, the personal connection consumers feel when visiting sites connected to their interests make them more open to advertising, so long as it is targeted and placed within the right context. This shift in consumer behaviour signals to advertisers that, in order to achieve increased levels of consumer engagement, investment should be maintained in ensuring they have a brand presence on publisher sites that are thematically relevant to their proposition,” Korsanos continued.


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