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DoubleClick: Marketers Wrongly Perceive Web Problems

NEW YORK -- Marketers would be willing to migrate to the Internet, if it weren't for a handful of persistent problems, according to a recent study conducted by online ad leader DoubleClick .

The research, portions of which were presented Monday during DoubleClick's Insight user conference in New York City, found that cross-media marketers and advertisers believed that the Web fell short compared to other media in delivering reach, consistent reporting, and addressing privacy concerns. It's also percieved as being too expensive and being too complicated.

As a result, while the company found that more than 74 percent of the 700 marketers it surveyed predict new revenue to come from online channels -- topping retail and other traditional channels -- industry growth remains sluggish for those five reasons, said DoubleClick Chief Marketing Officer Susan Sachatello.

With regard to reach, 49 percent of those surveyed said they believed the Web lacked the proper tools and mass to reach most audiences -- a belief that Sachatello said in many cases is simply incorrect.

For instance, among men ages 18 to 49 with incomes above $75,000 annually, the Internet tops television when it comes to media consumption, DoubleClick found in its studies with Mediamark Research International, Nielsen Media Research and other research groups. Specifically, Yahoo! Search delivers more of the target audience in terms of Gross Ratings Points (GRPs) than ABC TV's "Monday Night Football," which has the largest television audience among the demographic.

Among females in the same income range, Microsoft's MSN Hotmail delivers a larger audience than NBC's "Friends," the top-ranking show through which to reach females.

According to the DoubleClick research, the top 25 TV shows deliver 172 GRPs, while the top 25 Web sites deliver nearly as much, 160 GRPs. Considering the relative prices of television and online buys, the Internet could often prove a better value, Sachatello said.

Among teens, the results are even better, DoubleClick found, with Internet GRPs topping television, 203 to 114.

"The Internet has come of age. When you see the Internet delivering the same weight ... as a traditional medium, it means it's no longer this new-age, non-traditional medium -- this is a traditional medium."

Still, Sachatello said the research indicated that the Internet didn't work in every case. Television is a better way to reach African-American audiences, for instance, with the top 25 shows drawing GRP of 174, compared to the 107 delivered by the Web's top 25 sites.

Women, overall, also are reachable by offline media in greater numbers than online. The top magazines deliver 348 GRPs, compared to television's 194 and the Internet's 162.

While the Internet cannot deliver the largest audience for every demographic, "it's still no longer this alternative, gum-chewing, skateboard-riding crowd," she said.

After concerns about reach, DoubleClick found that perceived problems with measurement were marketers' second-most reported drawback to spending money on the Internet, with 28 percent of those surveyed saying the issue limited their involvement online.

However, Sachatello said much of the problem stemmed not from the Internet's inconsistent measurement, but rather from marketers' own reluctance to begin measuring the medium in the first place.

"Only 60 percent [of those surveyed] said they measure the effectiveness of their e-mail campaigns, while 56 percent said the same for their online advertising," Sachatello said. "Yet the tools exist and you can get the reporting you need for the medium."

Similarly, Sachatello said that in large part, whatever problems facing the Internet in terms of privacy, campaign-execution expense and complexity are fixable as well -- primarily through the acceptance of industry-wide standards. Those include disclosure guidelines, widely followed protocol (such as in the Interactive Advertising Bureau's recently-updated Terms and Conditions) and standardized ad formats, also introduced last year by the IAB.

"Part of the responsibility is that we all need to migrate toward standards," she said. "The IAB has done a great job, but I'm still surprised by how many sites are not using these sizes ... These problems are operational in nature, and can be solved with the right tools in place."

DoubleClick said it plans to make the full study available in coming weeks.