Online Ads, E-marketing on Upswing

According to an annual analysis by a DoubleClick and Nielsen//NetRatings, 2003 not only heralded a good fourth quarter for e-mail marketing, but for the online advertising industry as a whole. The online ad serving firm measured a 49 percent increase in volume throughout the year, culminating in more than 200 billion impressions in the fourth quarter. However, with more ads in the market, response rates suffered.

Total Traffic/Impressions
(in billions)
Q1 2003 136.6
Q2 2003 149.8
Q3 2003 172.0
Q4 2003 203.8
Source: DoubleClick

Not only were there more online ads, they got larger. Leaderboard ads, sized at 728×90, registered a more than 900 percent increase throughout 2003, while button-sized ads (88×31) experienced a 58 percent decline. Other ad sizes that saw significant increases were various large rectangles and skyscrapers, with growth that ranged from 42 percent to 262.3 percent. The once-popular standard banner size — 468×60 — measured a 12.6 percent decline from Q1 to Q4, and square pop-ups (250×250) plunged 25 percent.

Rich media usage increased 42 percent over the course of 2003 — growing from 27.8 percent of ad impressions served in Q1 to 39.7 percent in Q4 — yet only 12 percent of advertisers are using the enhanced technology. Rich media captured the largest portion of the animation-using advertisers’ portfolios during the third quarter of the year.

Median Rich Media Share
of Advertiser Portfolios
Q1 2003 43.4%
Q2 2003 52.8%
Q3 2003 64.7%
Q4 2003 61.0%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings: AdRelevance

Ad click-through rates were a disappointment in the fourth quarter, however, they averaged .62 percent for the year — for every 1,000 impressions, 6 clicks result. Rich media responses declined from 2.15 percent in Q1 to 1.24 percent in Q4. The decline in click-throughs is likely a result of the increased ad volume, the report noted.

E-mail marketing crested through the end of the year, proving that despite rising spam rates, government legislation, and now, payment proposals, the mail gets through. DoubleClick’s Q4 2003 e-mail survey revealed that deliverability, open rates and click-through rates improved, and Eric Kirby, DoubleClick’s vice president and general manager of strategic services, expects the industry to survive emerging obstacles.

“There are two fundamental drivers behind this: 1) Consumers understand and value permission based e-mail relationships and differentiate these from spam and 2) leading companies are evolving their e-mail programs faster than the environment is becoming more difficult. In other words, they are keeping ahead of the challenges in many respects.”

Q4 2003 Overall E-mail Performance
  Q4 2003 Q4 2002 Change
Delivery rate 87.3% 86.5% 1%
Open rate 36.8% 36.4% 1%
Click-through rate 8.4% 8.0% 5%
Source: DoubleClick

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