How Potential Readers React to Website Content While Online

Guest post by Irene Watson

A recent report “The Consumer and Content: Benchmark Study” (commissioned by AOL) by Data & Management Counsel Inc. revealed information that is worthy of perusing by authors and publishers.

The report concludes that consumers accept the fact that they will be automatically exposed to advertising while online. The report states “When these ads are relevant (highly targeted and engaging), they become valued to customers.” The study was conducted with 12 focus groups consisting of one thousand (95% of the US target market) 18- to 69-year-olds that have Internet service at home and spend more than an hour a week for non-work purposes.

Interesting findings were:

  • 67% – liked the ads targeted to their needs
  • 64% – liked ads with photos
  • 61% – liked sponsored ads in search results
  • 58% – liked banner ads
  • 53% – liked ads with functionality (share on Facebook, email to a friend)
  • 33% – liked in-video ads
  • 15% – liked pop-up ads
  • 14% – liked takeover ads

As well, “Consumers want ‘fewer ads’ on a page so they are less intrusive (and page is less cluttered.)”

Another interesting aspect of the research was looking how adults spend their time online. The research model used a “constant sum exercise” with a 100 point scale. Slightly more than half of the subjects did “content activity” as:

  • 26 points – seeking/getting online information (news, sports, finance, politics, etc.)
  • 16 points – entertainment (videos, games, music)
  • 11 points – shopping

And slightly less did “communication activity”:

  • 32 points – email
  • 15 points – social networking

As one would suspect, the “communication activity” was skewed because the 18- to 34-year-olds assigned an average of 23 points to social networking and 25 to emailing. Those in the 55-69 bracket assigned 41 on emailing and only 9 on social networking.

The section examining online-shopping behavior was (allocating 100 points among five choices):

  • 49 points – going directly to a shopping site
  • 25 points – using search engines to find the product
  • 12 points – responding to email alerts
  • 9 points – using portal/homepage
  • 6 points – following links from friends

To identify the importance of online information/content the study used “maximum difference decision judgment analysis” with results as:

First tier of importance:

  • credible and trusted source
  • quality

Second tier of importance:

  • known
  • authentic
  • relevant
  • recent

Third tier of importance:

  • ease of navigation
  • convenient
  • interesting

Fourth tier of importance:

  • expert recommended
  • original
  • visually appealing
  • friend recommended
  • among first in search results

Although “friend recommended” ranked in the fourth tier,

29 % said “online reviews from consumers I know” are “very influential” when looking for more information
26 % gave “very influential” rating to “online reviews from experts”
22% gave “very influential” rating to “online reviews from consumers I don’t know.”

The study also indicates that 18- to 34-year-olds showed 39% were influenced by online reviews from people they know, with 34% going to experts’ online reviews and 34% to consumers they don’t know.

So…now that you have all this information, what do you do with it?

My suggestion is to revisit the facts above or read the full report, revisit your marketing strategies, and re-work your marketing plan, website, and selling portals to make them more conducive to your target market (or consumers.)

Did you find this study of interest to you? What do you plan to do or re-do?

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews  of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity  and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.


Posted on January 16, 2011, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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