Advertisers targeting college students would do well to target them through Google, Bing and Yahoo searches.
College students will skip vetted sources and “Google” anything from term paper research to available apartments, reports eMarketer. They will use Google before turning to such dedicated sites as apartments.com or apartmentguide.com, which “are becoming an afterthought to this demographic.”
eMarketer reported on a survey conducted between December 2011, and February 15, 2012, by residential and student marketing agency Catalyst, which found that 53% of college students surveyed ranked search engines as the most important source in helping them find a place to live. Second and third were recommendations by friends or parents, at 37% and 27%.
In fact, 98% of students listed Google Search as the place they seek any information online, found Catalyst. Ebrary, an online research outlet, found the same. An ebrary study revealed that, when doing research for coursework, college students first use Google or another search engine. In 2011, 85% of college attendees worldwide turned to Google, up from 81% in 2008. A smaller segment (79%) used print books for this purpose.
Does that mean that students have lower standards of scholarship, or are simply less scholarly? Not necessarily. A Pew Internet & American Life Project study found in May 2011 that younger, better-educated U.S. internet users used search engines more than average Americans. Still, those students surveyed by ebrary viewed print as more trustworthy than any electronic resource. This was also the case in 2008. “Students know that electronic information is transient and easy to produce,” reported ebrary—chiefly owing to the difficulty and expense of print publication. Presumably, the students use search engines to identify those print sources, and attempt to find them available electronically.
Still, Google Scholar (a more academically-oriented Google), which more narrowly focuses upon academic research, is only ninth on the top 10 sources for students conducting research. Tenth is the fairly-but-not-completely reliable Wikipedia. Academics typically disallow Google or Wikipedia results as sources; students must cite the original source material from which those results and entries are created. The remaining sources (ebooks, electronic databases) generally have no opportunities for advertisers.
- Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich “may occasionally refer to a Twitter hash tag as a hash mark,” observes CNN, but is attempting to reach out to voters “one tweet and Facebook friend at a time.” With a smaller TV ad budget than his rivals, Gingrich is attempting to make up the difference in social media. Gingrich announced at an Alabama campaign stop that he had reached his 175,00th donation; and is fond of saying that 95% of his donations are under $250. Referring to the importance of social media to his campaign, "This is part of how we've survived against Romney, frankly…we reach out through the Internet, so we can run a very inexpensive campaign."
- Hulu’s original series are going global, reports Deadline Hollywood. FremantleMedia Enterprises has signed a deal with Hulu for international distribution rights to the online video service’s original programming. FME retains the rights to distribute Hulu original series globally, and across all platforms, including traditional media. The first such series is Morgan Spurlock’s documentary series “A Day In The Life,” which follows celebrities around for a full day (including to the gym and day care). “This is a ground-breaking deal, which sets a new precedent for acquiring content that can live on both digital and linear platforms,” said FremantleMedia CEO David Ellender, which opens opportunities “outside of the traditional distribution models.”
- comScore has released its monthly comScore qSearch analysis of the U.S. search marketplace for February. Google Sites led the explicit core search market in February with 66.4 percent of search queries conducted, up 0.2 percentage points, followed by Microsoft Sites with 15.3 percent (up 0.1 percentage points) and Yahoo! Sites with 13.8 percent. Ask Network accounted for 3.0 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.5 percent. ComScore clocked 17.6 billion explicit core searches were in February, with Google Sites ranking first with 11.7 billion.
- The 4th Annual Social Media Awards or “SoMe” awards is seeking nominations. The SoMes are presented by the Social Media Club Portland, SEMpdx, ThoroughlyModernMarketing.com, the Software Association of Oregon and InnoTech, and the ceremony will take place on May 3rd in Portland, Oregon. The Awards include ten (10) categories.There are 10 SoMe categories including Brandbuilder: Awareness & Engagement Over 10K, Moneymaker: best ROI Over 10K, Non-profit Campaign of the Year and Agency of the Year. Deadine for nominations is March 15.
- Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) has clarified where to find digital magazine circulation in its reports—apparently a source of confusion till now. Most U.S. and Canadian magazine Publisher’s Statements for the second half of 2011 are available in ABC’s e-Data center, and ABC has pinpointed where to find that information, in a series of highlighted graphics and an informational video.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are stepping up their digital ad buys, reports Media Post. But they’re largely cutting out the “middle man,” with self-serve advertising.
Over the next 12 months, SMBs will allocate 26% of their budgets to digital and online media. That according to data from BIA/Kelsey, which conducts its ongoing Local Commerce Monitor study of SMB advertising and media usage.
SMBs are particularly bullish on self-serve advertising (e.g., video, Facebook, YouTube). According to BIA/Kelsey data:
- 49% of SMBs have purchased online advertising directly from a Web site, with or without live operator assistance.
- 52% use social media to promote their businesses
- 22% plan to have a video on YouTube in the next 12 months
In addition to digital advertising, SMBs over the next five years will shift their spends to performance-based platforms (e.g., pay-per-click) and customer-retention business solutions over the next five years.
In 2011, BIA/Kelsey forecasted that SMBs will allocate just 30% of marketing budgets to traditional advertising by 2015, way down from the 52% they spent in 2010 on radio, local TV and print ads. That will leave 70% for mobile, social, online directories, digital couponing and so forth. With projected SMB spending of $40.2 billion in 2015, that digital spend will be $28.14 billion.
The Obama administration has made it formal: in a report released yesterday, the Administration calls upon Congress to enact a privacy bill of rights for web users, and it calls upon companies like Google and Facebook to develop those standards, reports Business Week. Key among the rights is a simple, one-click opt-out of data collection. President Obama said in a statement “Consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules…consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy.”
Putting Google and Facebook in charge is a matter of fox guarding hen houses. Google was caught last week bypassing privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser, which by default blocks cookies. Somehow, as CNN reported, Google tricked the browser into believing the viewer had interacted with an ad, thus giving Google permission to install a test cookie and collect user data. CNN called this just “the latest high-profile flap over online data privacy.” The Federal Trade Commission in 2011 settled complaints against Google, Facebook and Twitter over their handling of consumer data.
But, those companies are just three members of a consortium, which will also include the member organizations of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). Those member organizations include the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI). DAA said in a statement that the Administration had called upon it to “[create] robust self-regulation to protect consumer privacy rights and expectations in the advertising-supported Internet,” and claimed to be “honored.”
How honored DAA is has yet to be determined. The DAA earlier in February argued that it “wanted to put all the force of self regulation” behind ensuring consumer privacy, according to an Adweek story. It would police itself. But Adweek also observed that the Google snafu would likely put the kibosh on self regulation: the Administration is likely to legislate privacy measures. In fact, The Commerce Department will with with those companies and organizations—plus privacy advocate groups like the Center for Digital Democracy—to develop those (for now) voluntary standards.
Until any such legislation passes (if indeed), The White House report prescribed broad principles for the use of personal information, which includes giving consumers clear control over what data is collected and how it is used, the Business Week story describes.
Ad Targeting and Do Not Track
As the Business Week story described, privacy advocates are simply opposed to tracking consumers without permission, for purposes of targeted advertising.
DAA General Counsel Stu Inglis argues that online ad networks are willing and able to adhere to the anti-tracking tools available in most Web browsers (e.g., the “InPrivate” option available in Internet Explorer). Thus it is up to Mozilla with Firefox, Microsoft with Internet Explorer and so forth, to solve the opt-in/opt-out dilemma. Google said yesterday it would enable a “do-not-track” button to be embedded in its browser to let users limit information gathered on browsing habits.
No experts have weighed in on the potential impact to targeted advertising. But if Google, Microsoft and the DAA have their way, behavioral tracking will remain standard, and targeted advertising will survive it—perhaps for the better. Opt-in is of course the sign of a qualified sales lead.
Digital measurement thinktank comScore, Inc. has released its monthly analysis of U.S. web activity at the top online properties for January 2012, based on data from the comScore Media Metrix service. Tax sites (including IRS.GOV), travel sites like Kayak.com and educational sites all saw strong gains.
“In January, the average U.S. Internet user spent a record 36 hours online, reflecting the growing importance of digital media to Americans’ daily lives,” said Jeff Hackett, executive vice president of comScore. “Among the biggest category gainers in this heavy month of Internet usage were Travel and Career sites, which posted double-digit gains, and of course Tax sites as the non-procrastinators among us decided to get an early jump on getting their refunds.”
Several Travel subcategories were among the top-gainers in January, including Transaction sites which grew 28% to 3.7 million visitors. TravelPN.com led the category with 798,000 visitors (up 11%), followed by Viator.com with 642,000 (up 9%), WWTE.com with 442,000 (up 86%) and OneTime.com with 278,000 (up 48%).
Car Rental sites jumped 22% to 6.2 million visitors during the month, led by Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company with 3.2 million visitors (up 14%). Avis Budget Group ranked second with nearly 2 million visitors (up 19%), followed by Hertz with 1.3 million (up 21%), CarRentals.com with 793,000 (up 30%) and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. with 790,000 (up 27%).
Hotels/Resorts also ranked among the fastest-growing Travel sites. The category attracted 33.2 million visitors in January, representing an 18-percent increase. Marriott secured the #1 position in the category with 5.1 million visitors (up 30%), followed by Disney Parks & Travel with 4.8 million (up 36%), Hilton Hotels with 4.6 million (up 25%) and Expedia Hotels with 3.3 million.
Career and Education
As the new year began, Americans turned their focus to career services and education. Traffic to Job Search sites grew 27% in January to 24.2 million visitors. Indeed.com Job Search ranked as the category leader with 13.7 million visitors (up 33%), followed by CareerBuilder.com Job Search with 9.8 million (up 27%), Monster.com Job Search with 5 million (up 28%) and SimplyHired.com with 3.5 million (up 42%).
Training and Education sites also gained traction, with a sizeable increase of 23% to 14.7 million visitors. LiveCareer.com topped the list with 1.2 million visitors (up 58%), followed by AesopOnline.com with 940,000 (up 44%), FastWeb.com with 736,000 (up 30%) and Learn4Good.com with 599,000.
Tax Sites Spike as Season Begins
Visitation to Tax sites swelled in January as millions decided to get a jump on filing and hopefully getting a refund check from Uncle Sam. More than 30.7 million Americans visited a Tax site in January, up 359% to rank as the fastest growing category.
Top 50 Properties
Google Sites ranked as the #1 property in January with 187.4 million visitors, followed by Microsoft Sites with 179.2 million and Yahoo! Sites with 177.2 million. LinkedIn.com jumped 8 positions to rank #29 with 36.8 million visitors, while Everyday Health, which helped many fulfill their New Year’s resolutions to be healthier, leapt 10 positions to #38.
Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking
Google Ad Network led the January Ad Focus ranking with a reach of 92.9% of Americans online, followed by AOL Advertising (85%), Yahoo! Network Plus (84.8%), ShareThis (82.4%) and AT&T AdWorks (82.3%).
It is no secret that the combination of paid media (in advertising) and earned media (news stories, social media) boost brand awareness and favorability. But as eMarketer reports, the combination also raises order sizes and revenue per click.
Analytics and attribution solution provider ClearSaleing conducted a study of consumer exposure to a combination of paid, owned and earned media. The study revealed that when consumers are exposed to social media on top of other online ad formats and marketing channels (e.g., search engine ads, email direct and display ads), the average revenue per order for U.S. advertisers was $280.71—considerably more than the average $135.37 average for all digital channels.
ClearSaleing observed that consumers use social media and comparison shopping engines for larger purchases (e.g., major appliances) , which could contribute to the higher average revenue per order. Also true, ClearSaleing tracked display interactions by view-through activity versus by impressions alone, which lends credibility to display ads as having significant influence upon consumers.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released the final version of its “Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification,” in cooperation with the Media Rating Council (MRC). The advantage to advertisers and marketers is truth in numbers: IAB is promising that with a common set of standards, “companies engaged in the verification of interactive advertising campaigns can themselves be audited against a common, transparent standard.”
The participants in creating the guildelines include both buy- and sell-side heavyweights such as the New York Times, NBCUniversal, Turner Broadcasting, Yahoo!, Google, and verification services like AdXpose and Telemetry.
In an executive summary of the guidelines, IAB claimed as one of its goals to “reduce the chaos that has surrounded ad verification practice since its inception,” and to improve the trust between both buy- and sell-side industry organizations. “While ad verification in principle is valuable to the digital advertising industry, the lack of accountability created tension between the publishers and marketers.” said Steve Sullivan, Vice President, Advertising Technology for IAB. The Bureau “developed these guidelines to introduce a level of consistency into campaign assessments commensurate the industry's standards for impression measurement.”
The guidelines provide a detailed set of common methods and practices for verification of online advertising, useful to verification vendors and users of verification services (both buyers and sellers). They include mobile, e-mail or lead generation campaigns of all types and address a wide range of topics, including:
- Ad-serving prevention (“ad blocking”) carries larger implications to the buyer and/or seller because the intended ad serving transaction is interrupted. The guidelines recommend that ad blocking may be used in instances where the relevant domain or page-level URL is already on a blocking list, for competitive separation and fraud prevention. Ad blocking should only be built into ad serving systems, so decisions are made pre-serve.
- Nested iFrames are often recognized as legitimate technology, but because of browser operational/security considerations, there is limited visibility into the legitimacy of iFrames filled with content from outside the parent domain. For that reason, the guidelines recommend ad verification vendors have procedures to classify and report whether advertising served into iFrames from other domains has been appropriately executed. In addition, the general nature of the verification tools used to view iFrame content should be disclosed. Moreover, it is recommended that the industry minimize the use of nested iFrames.
- Geo-targeting IP-based processes can vary in quality based on the geo-targeting vendor used. The guidelines recommend geo-targeting vendors subject their processes to independent auditing and that natural differences in geo targeting accuracy between vendors be taken into account.
“Consistent and transparent conduct of ad verification is vital for deepening confidence in the industry and driving the advancement of digital advertising,” said George Ivie, Executive Director and CEO of the MRC. “We believe the issuance of these guidelines represent a major step toward achieving these goals.”
IAB has made the guidelines available on its website.
No need to rework your search engine ad spend. comScore, Inc. has released its qSearch analysis of the U.S. search marketplace in January, and the numbers are practically identical to those in December.
Google sites led the explicit core search market with 66.2% of search queries conducted, up 0.3% over December. Microsoft sites held second place with 15.2%, and Yahoo! at 14.1%. The comScore qSearch captures consumer search activity at nearly 200 search properties in 41 countries.
Those percentages were across 17.8 billion explicit core searches, with Google sites ranking first with 11.8 billion; Microsoft sites with 2.7 billion; Yahoo! sites with 2.5 billion; Ask Network with 527 million and AOL with 277 million.
comScore defines an “Explicit Core Search” as one that reflect specific user intent to interact with the search results. Americans conducted nearly 20 billion total core search queries in January. Google Sites ranked first with 13.2 billion searches, followed by Yahoo! Sites with 3.2 billion and Microsoft Sites with 2.8 billion.
“Powered By” Reporting
In January, 68.4% of searches carried organic search results from Google (vs. 68.1% in December) while 26.5% of searches were powered by Bing (no change vs. December).
While the U.S. online ad spend will approach $40 billion in 2012, just three formats will dominate that spend, forecasts eMarketer: search, banners, and video adverts. Those three formats will capture 80% of the online ad spending through 2016.
Search will dominate, hovering just below 50% for the next five years, though it will lose some ground to online video; that format will see the highest persistent growth in spending, and will nearly double in percent of total spend from 7.9% in 2012 to 15% in 2016. Banners will retain their #2 status, with 23.4% share of total spend in 2012, and 20.5% in 2016, also losing ground to video ads.
Video ads are expected to grow by 55% in spending this year, after a healthy growth of 42.1% in 2011. That growth (the highest in a single year through 2012) is fueled in part by the 2012 election and summer Olympic Games. (Consider the PAC and campaign ads you’ve seen already.)
Each of these three formats fits nicely into the mobile format, and mobile display ads (chiefly banner and video) are expected to grow by 93.5% to $861.7 in 2016.
eMarketer has projected that U.S. online ad spending will grow 23.3% in 2012 to nearly $40 billion, and nearly $53 billion in 2013. This will make 2012 the first year in which online ad spends will surpass the total spent on print ads, with $39.5 billion online versus $33.8 billion in magazines and newspapers.
• Apple has been “shopping around for TV parts,” reports AllThingsD, meaning an Apple-platform smart TV is inching toward reality. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to clients that Apple has been talking to TV component vendors. This following some January meetings in Asia, supposedly to scope out manufacturing facilities, which led Piper Jaffray to believe Apple is looking to manufacture large-scale LCD displays.
• Citing “inventory oversupply” in the mobile ad space, Digiday reports that during Q3 of 2011, only 18 percent of impressions were filled by the top 20 U.S. mobile ad networks, and 10 percent worldwide. This says Digiday makes it “increasingly difficult for publishers to generate revenues from their mobile audiences.”
• About.com (a New York Times company) with its evergreen content may not seem a serious ad outlet, but, it is serious enough for Charles Schwab and Procter & Gamble. Now the online outlet has launched Real Recipes, a free app for iPhone and iPod Touch, to deliver About.com’s “deep catalogue of culinary content” (more than 25,000 recipes and numerous menu-planning tools) to the digital space.
• Former “NBC Dateline” anchor will bypass television and anchor straight from the web, reports TV Newser. In a video message on the StonePhillipsReports.com website, Phillips declared that after 20 years in broadcast news, he will now report on stories important to himself. First out of the lineup—head injuries in youth football, in a story called “Hard Hits, Hard Numbers.” As yet, Phillips is not accepting advertising, just donations. Dateline NBC did not review Phillips’ contract in 2007, and he has not been on broadcast television since.
• In an attempt to promote its Bing search engine over Google, Microsoft has launched its “Putting People First” campaign in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today. As Social Times describes, Microsoft argues in the ad that Google sells out users to advertisers by using personal information to influence the type of advertising each customer sees. Microsoft products including Hotmail, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and Bing, are far safer and more private, the company claims.