Consumers in mature markets (including the UK) are less receptive to online advertising than those in emerging markets, while all users prefer integrated ad formats, according to a new global study. The research, conducted by Microsoft Advertising, MEC and Mindshare Worldwide, revealed a contrast in receptiveness to online advertising between the more mature markets – UK, France, Spain, Canada, Japan and US – and emerging markets like Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia and India.
‘Living with the Internet – What is driving web behaviour’, the follow up to a study published in 2007 designed to better understand the nature of time spent online across the world, and explore how it should inform advertising strategies for agencies and brands.
As a part of the study between 200 and 400 respondents aged between 16 and 54 globally across eleven different markets were asked questions about their attitudes towards the spectrum of online advertising formats currently used by brands.
Significantly for advertisers who are looking at the marketing mix required to reach emerging markets, 17 per cent of consumers in emerging markets are happy to see more video adverts online versus the 18 per cent of consumers in mature markets who feel they see too many.
Similarly, 12 per cent of consumers in mature markets think there are too many branded social networking sites, contrasting with emerging markets, where 25 per cent of consumers are open to seeing more.
Although this is positive news for the digital advertising industry, the data for mature markets clearly demonstrates that advertisers need to be targeted, creative and strategic in their approach.
Beth Uyenco, Global Research Director, Microsoft Advertising comments: “The study illustrates that online advertising has a much easier job making an impact among users in emerging markets. In contrast those in mature markets are increasingly harder to engage through digital advertising.
“More than ever, marketers need to take a smarter approach to online media by making a brand’s presence fit more naturally into a user’s experience. ‘Living with the Internet – What is driving web behaviour’ has generated insights into the importance of knowing user intent and the value of contextual targeting.”
Indeed, in addition to highlighting the opportunities offered by emerging markets, the study also serves as a reminder to marketers that a small but significant cross section of consumers in mature markets feel increasingly overwhelmed by the abundance of online advertising across a fragmented media landscape.
Uyenco continues: “The importance of compelling creative, relevant messages, but also investing in effective audience targeting to ensure your adverts reach the right person, cannot be underestimated in both mature and emerging markets”.
Most popular online ad formats
A related trend that linked both mature and emerging markets was the relative receptiveness to consumers in each market to ‘integrated’ and ‘intrusive’ advertising formats.
According to the study, ad formats that scored the highest were integrated into the application a consumer was using, and therefore less intrusivefor example paid map adverts that offer a 2 for 1 discount at a restaurant.
Search and in-game advertising are also well integrated and therefore more welcome to consumers.
In contrast, more intrusive pop up adverts were ranked in last place by audiences in all markets.
For advertisers, the findings show it is essential to interact with a target audience in a way that compliments a consumer’s online activity, rather than negatively interrupting it. In addition, a blend of paid, owned and earned media feature in the list of the most popular brand communication formats, demonstrating that each has a place in the digital media mix.
Tom Morgan, Director Business Planning at Mindshare Worldwide, comments: “Collaborating with Microsoft on their ‘Living with the Internet’ study has been invaluable, not only in understanding digital media in fits with people’s daily routines, but also in how we can apply these insights on behalf of our clients.”
Julian Smith, Analytics & Insight Director, MEC EMEA comments: ”While this study usefully highlights the differences in online brand receptivity between mature and emerging markets – which should always be considered when planning globally – it also illustrates the similarities between all internet users. They would rather seek, find and pull interesting owned brand content to them than have paid advertising messages pushed at them.
“Brands that can achieve a blend of paid and owned media are much more likely to achieve active audience engagement online.”
The study, ‘Living with the Internet – What is driving web behaviour’also unearths evidence to demonstrate the increasingly routine nature of web usage across the globe, how the web plays different roles throughout the day from information to entertainment source, and the growing importance of mobile usage in communication and creation as smartphone ownership continues to explode.
This study is a collaboration between Microsoft Advertising, MEC and Mindshare Worldwide. Ipsos OTX MediaCT conducted a three-phased study in ten countries, four of which were initially surveyed in 2007. These countries were surveyed in 2007 and 2010: Brazil, United Kingdom, and France. Markets added in 2010 were: Spain, Russia, China, India, Japan, Mexico, and the US. An eleventh market, Canada, was surveyed in both 2007 and 2009.
The first phase of the study provided a complete profile of respondents’ use of the Web across all devices in a 24-hour day. The second survey established how users felt about different forms of web advertising. Then to provide some context to the results from the first two quantitative surveys, the team gathered blogs from 4-5 individuals in each country.
Download the full report here.