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Online video viewers often cite fewer ads as one reason they watch content online rather than on traditional television, yet many publishers want to increase video ad loads and advertisers want to make sure their placements are being viewed. Research exploring how to satisfy all three constituencies indicates that while the length of online video ads matters for completion rates, the length of the content surrounding it is also key for this metric. A study by content delivery network Limelight Networks of video ads served during the first half of 2010 found that 15-second ads were more than 20 percentage points more likely to be viewed to completion than 30-second ads.
Search advertising still takes the greatest share of online ad dollars by far, but display spending is posting solid gains. The steep growth in online video ad spending, combined with solid increases for banners, will help display ads eventually top search spending. Total online display ad spending, including online video, banner ads, rich media and sponsorships, has already brought the category in close range of search. This year, US advertisers will spend $14.38 billion on search ads and $12.33 billion on online display, up 19.8% and 24.5%, respectively, over 2010. Display will continue to grow at a faster pace than search throughout eMarketer’s forecast period, and is on track to surpass search by 2015. “The rebalancing of ad budgets across the board, among companies both large and small, national and local, will be pushing more brand-oriented dollars on to the web,” said David Hallerman, principal analyst at eMarketer.
While the vast majority of coupons are still clipped from Sunday newspaper inserts, digital coupon usage is growing rapidly. In 2011, nearly half of all online consumers will redeem digital coupons online or in a store, eMarketer forecasts. Increased usage and acceptance of mobile coupons will ensure future digital coupon growth. “Several factors account for the rise of digital couponing,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Coupon to Groupon: New Channels for an Old Tradition.” “The recession, the increased use of the internet as a shopping and research channel, and, of course, the immense popularity of daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have created a new form of online deal hunting.”
Growing a base of Facebook fans is often a major objective for social media marketers. Whether through special offers available only to fans, the promise of exclusive content or simply through a compelling campaign that reaches already-loyal customers, marketers are building up their presence on Facebook pages and hoping consumers flock there as well. But as fan bases grow, the danger increases that the larger community will be less close-knit and engaged than before. Link-sharing solutions provider Visibli analyzed Facebook pages with at least 100,000 “likes” and found that for brands and media organizations, pages with more fans received fewer “likes” on each individual post. Engagement went down as the number of people involved went up.
Millennials—also commonly referred to as Generation Y and echo boomers—are the first generation to come of age in the new millennium. Unsurprisingly, the internet’s role is paramount among the age group’s media habits and usage. From shopping to socializing to watching TV, they do it all online. “Millennials represent a critical target for marketers, and the best place to reach them is where they are—online,” said Jared Jenks, eMarketer analyst and author of the new report, “ Demographic Profile—Millennials .”
Research on tablet usage has found, since the iPad first made its way into the hands of millions in 2010, that they are primarily used for entertainment , and the availability of media content on the devices is still driving purchase intent . A March 2011 survey from mobile ad network AdMob amplifies those findings further, showing that for many owners tablets are fast becoming a primary source of entertainment. Nearly seven in 10 tablet owners reported spending at least 1 hour per day using the device, including 38% who spent over 2 hours on it.
Many marketers find location-based services exciting because of the possibilities for local and loyalty-based initiatives, and the tech media lighted on check-in apps as a shiny new game. But the average consumer still has not found a real reason to check in—especially not one that overcomes their concerns about mobile privacy and security . Even knowledge of the apps has not reached many smartphone owners yet, according to digital marketing agency White Horse . A February 2011 survey of US smartphone users ages 14 and older found that fewer than three in five knew about location-based mobile apps, and just 39% used them. Even that level of awareness has likely risen significantly due to Facebook’s entrance into the market. Earlier market entrants foursquare and Gowalla have been quickly passed in usage by Facebook Places, which can be credited with introducing check-ins to the masses, if not leading to mass adoption.
Mobile barcodes, particularly the 2-D variety (such as QR codes), constitute a new tool for marketers looking to activate and measure the impact of static media, in-store displays and product packaging. “Mobile barcodes hold promise for marketers as a mechanism for activating other media and providing a bridge between the physical and digital worlds,” said Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “ Mobile Barcodes: Trends and Best Practices for Marketers .” “But they also present challenges, including fragmentation between open and proprietary barcode formats and the requirement that consumers download a dedicated application to read the codes.” In Japan, where QR codes originated, 2-D barcode usage is ubiquitous.
Luxury marketers take note, according to a February 2011 Affluence Collaborative survey, wealthy internet users connect with brands on social networks for significantly different reasons than the general population. The social networks they use to do so are different, too. Among the general population, the main reason cited for connecting with brands on social networks was to receive deals and discounts.
As digital becomes more integrated into the larger picture of marketing, marketers are not optimistic about the future of digital-only agencies, with just a third saying these shops can survive in their current form. RSW/US , a business development firm that works with agencies on lead generation, surveyed marketing decision-makers in March 2011 for “A Client’s Look Ahead at Agencies,” and found that 67% of respondents felt digital agencies need to evolve and offer more traditional services to maintain relevancy. Overall, only 25% of respondents use an agency that is exclusively digital, social or SEO-focused. This is down from 28% in RSW/US’ 2009–2010 survey.
Discounts and deals have been used by many brands as a tactic to encourage Facebook or Twitter engagement among shoppers, and research has shown that receiving such offers is a top reason social network users follow brands on the sites. But have consumers made a strong connection between social networks and retail? March 2011 research from daily deal site Eversave found that fully three-quarters of female social network users thought social sites were useful for learning about offers from brands. Respondents usually heard about daily deals in their newsfeed, from brands they follow (85.7%). Friends were another big source of deal information (44.5%). But December 2010 data from research firm ForeSee Results put social media sites toward the bottom of online shoppers’ preferred promotional channels.