Cautious Consult Says Sector is Stirring

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] Saying that “the activity is there,” Ramin Marzbani, CEO of researchers AC Neilsen/Consult has published the latest Online Advertising Effectiveness Study for 2001 and is urging that with the online advertising industry “not working this space as hard as it should,” there is room for improvement in the Internet advertising space.

Measuring advertising data for fourteen of Australia’s top online advertisers, AC Neilsen/Consult’s survey focussed on the return of marketing objective, with Marzbani saying that the challenge for consult’s researchers increasingly is more about how to isolate the effectiveness of the banner ad, still “the absolute cornerstone of all online advertising” as far as the Internet is concerned.

While there is “no question”, according to Marzbani, that click throughs are declining, the results presented by consult suggest “fundamentally an incremental improvement”.

“Over the next five years I would not expect this stuff to work less,” said Marzbani, adding that “publishers are delivering audiences, it’s what people do,” referring to fundamental issues such as strategy and creative that determine the success or otherwise of online advertising.

Studying the performance of fourteen brands’ online advertisements, a total of 24 ads in all, the researchers compiled survey responses from 15,000 consumers, surveyed across a collection of targeted sites and advertisement bookings. The findings were that, since the last year’s survey, AC Neilsen/Consult had found that intent to purchase increased by 8 percent, together with a 6 percent increase in top of mind brand awareness, 1.4 percent increase in unaided brand awareness and a 30 percent increase in ad recall.

Marzbani was adamant that even the worst performing advertising campaigns from the Consult sample could be rescued, with the researcher suggesting that by “hacking” into the creative or branding on a particular ad — examples used were for a poor performing car companies’ campaign, Consult’s researchers were able to dramatically increase advertisement recall. “One simple thing led to such improvement,” said Marbani. “Imagine if they got all the design elements right”.

“The advertising has got to work hard to have salience”, said Marzbani, in pointing out that the six percent increase in “top of mind” awareness for the advertising sample suggested that the interactive advertising industry seems to have embraced this notion to a degree. Boiling the study down to one $30 ad-buy, Consult’s report said that marketers could, according to the study, expect that for an investment in 1000 online ad impressions or $30, advertisers could expect 52 more people to be aware of the brand, 11 more people having top of mind awareness of a product, 19 people being of a favourable opinion of it and 18, if compelled, would “definitely” or “probably” buy the product. While Consult says that “If you choose not to advertise online, you will still get sales”, but adds that ultimately, online advertising increases the performance of a campaign all round.

Meanwhile, more signs of life seem to have come from the Cannes International Advertising Festival, where online advertising projections for 2001, according to researchers Jupiter Media Metrix suggest a total of $5.8 billion this year, with growth figures remaining relatively flat over 2002 ($6.8 billion), with a rise to $8.6 billion in 2003 and further rises after that.

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