Good times for AOL, who recently announced that its ad revenues have been the strongest in seven years - reaching a massive $340m. While there is no disputing the figures, which AOL attribute to simply getting more online advertising and search dollars from other brands and businesses – before handing over significant ad budget over to large portals like AOL, advertisers should think carefully about where they choose to place their promotions online.
While big portals have long held the giant share of advertising spend online, we recently conducted some research with YouGov which actually found that these portals are losing their stronghold on consumer attention, with specialist sites now successful competing for users internet time and engagement. Essentially, the generic nature of big portal sites means they are no longer fully meeting consumer needs when online.
Our figures put this into perspective – currently 92% of consumers say that they visit sites which are specific to their interests to find the information and content they care about online. Primarily, consumers believe these types of sites are providers of reliable sources of information and secondly, because they feature more interesting and engaging content.
More importantly, the results found that due to the personal connection they feel with special interest sites, consumers have a more receptive mind set when visiting them and consequently, more likely to pay attention to relevant ads that are featured there – true for 39% of 18-24 year olds.
Traditionally, advertisers have fallen back on the rationale that advertising on sites with the highest number of users will mean the probability of achieving cut-through, click-throughs and ultimately purchases, is also higher.
However, as the research discovers, rather than defaulting to major portals for content online, consumers are increasingly also turning to and most emotionally engaged with sites which are specific to their interests – and this is precisely where advertisers should be trying to reach them. Marketers need to engage with audiences in their favoured contexts, which requires the labour intensive work of working with and carefully considering the importance and value of niche publishers. This labour can be taken away by aggregators who can manage the intricate complexity of dealing with many and various sites within a particular space as well as gauging suitable environments for different campaigns online.
With the battle for consumer attention online showing no signs of slowing, the most effective way to reach consumers is when they are most emotionally engaged with the content they are viewing and most receptive to promotions. Ultimately, this might necessitate a shift in inventory by advertisers, away from focusing on large portals and giving more weight to those publishers who are able to meet specific consumer interests and needs. It is the role of intermediaries to manage that intricacy and headache for advertise and agencies, who have intimate knowledge of their vertical and the miscellany of increasingly proliferating online publishers that exist.
by Spyro Korsanos, chief executive, Mediasydnicator