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Consumers with spending power more responsive to ads on niche sites than portals

Only 12 per cent of consumers claim to often pay attention advertising on portal sites

The majority of UK Internet users with spending power are looking beyond web portals in search of more dedicated content from specialist niche sites, according to The 2009 Online Advertising Attitudes Report.

Fifty-six per cent of ABC1 adults are more likely to go to specialist niche sites dedicated to their interests than visit larger portal sites.
Fifty-seven per cent of consumers rarely or never pay attention to the advertising on major portal sites.
Commissioned by Addvantage Media, and conducted by YouGov, The 2009 Online Advertising Trends Report polled the views of a representative sample of 2,013 UK adults exploring their attitudes towards advertising online.

Going Beyond the Most Trafficked Sites

The 2009 Online Advertising Attitudes Report points to a wider trend in which web users are spending more of their surfing time on more niche sites dedicated to their interests rather than traditional portal sites.

Fifty per cent of people prefer to regularly visit niche/specialist web sites that are dedicated to their specific interests, compared with just 46 per cent who regularly visit larger sites.

The extent to which consumers are deserting mass media portals is shown by the fact that almost a quarter (22 per cent) of British consumers claim to only visit niche sites that are specific to their interests compared to just two per cent who claim to only visit larger, generalist sites.

A further third (34 per cent) of British consumers spend the majority of their time visiting niche sites that are specific to their interests.
In comparison C2DE consumers are more likely to visit larger sites (47 per cent) than smaller sites dedicated to their interests (43 per cent).
Additionally, niche sites are the most popular destination online for British consumers aged 25-54, reinforcing their popularity with demographic groups with the most spending power.
The key reason for this preference for niche websites appears to lie in a desire for quality content.
Despite all the investment major internet portals have made in improving content, especially video, 41 per cent of British consumers believe that niche sites relevant to their specific interests have the best content compared to just 29 per cent for big web sites.

There is a clear difference in web habits linked to wealth and associated spending power, with 32 per cent of C2DE respondents claiming major portal sites have better quality content while 46 per cent of ABC1 respondents believing niche sites have better quality content.

“These findings raise serious questions about where advertisers should be purchasing inventory if they are to be maximising their marketing budgets in the economic downturn”, said Harvey Sarjant, Managing Partner at Addvantage Media.

“Comscore reported last year that 75 per cent of media consumption takes place outside of the top 1,000 websites but what this research reveals is the extent to which more affluent web users are surfing these niche websites. In a recession it’s particularly vital that advertisers avoid the traditional scatter-gun approach to ad placement and ensure that their advertising is speaking in a relevant way to the consumers with the greatest purchasing power.”

Are social nets effective for ads?

The research also raised serious questions about the effectiveness of advertising on large internet portals and social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

Of those who use large web sites only 12 per cent claim to often pay attention their advertising. A shocking 57 per cent claim to rarely or never pay attention to the advertising on those sites. ABC1s are 19 per cent less likely than C2DEs to pay attention to advertising on these sites

For all the hype surrounding social networks and the marketing potential they supposedly present, they have yet to show any better ROI for display advertising than the major portals, according to the 2009 online advertising attitudes report.

Of those British consumers who use social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, more than one in four (26 per cent) never pay attention to their advertising, and a further 36 per cent claim to rarely pay attention to it.

Of the British consumers who visit niche/specialist sites, almost three quarters (73 per cent) say they pay attention to the advertising of which almost a third (32 per cent) claim to usually pay attention to the advertising.

Harvey Sarjant comments, “As economic conditions continue to squeeze marketing budgets, some online advertising networks are looking to cut corners where possible as they try to protect and build their margins."

"What this research reveals however is that now more than ever it is vital that advertising networks are working closely with their clients to ensure that advertising inventory is both creative and placed in sites that will effectively engage online audiences."

"In the simple pursuit of trying to maintain margins using the same tactics and approach while budgets are being squeezed, brands will only continue to see response rates to their advertising dive as consumers continue to think much more intelligently about their relationship with advertising online and how it influences their purchasing decisions."

Research methodology

The 2009 Online Advertising Trends Report was commissioned by Addvantage Media and conducted by YouGov, polling a nationally representative sample of 2,013 UK adults aged 18+ in December 2008.