This is the final edition of Ad Metrics. Be sure to print out a copy, so you can sell it on eBay in 20 years and become a millionaire. Better yet, you can use it as a review of the most salient points made in the column.
Yes, this is the final edition of Ad Metrics. I recently accepted a new position with Current Analysis, a provider of online competitive intelligence for sales and marketing professionals in the telecom and Internet industries, and it’s a job that has little to do with Internet advertising.
I started the column back in August 1999 out of a desire to provide some hard, quantifiable facts and figures to decision makers in the Internet advertising industry. I had been a part of a major effort to research what makes Internet advertising effective and what the state of the art was, and wanted to share the fruits of this research. The column will remain archived here on ClickZ for those who want to use it as a reference.
(Ah, August 1999. You remember the days: Fats Domino and Buddy Holly were all the rage and we all wore poodle skirts and bobby socks. Well, some of us did.)
So, what’s my number-one conclusion? It’s this: Targeting is the Holy Grail of Internet advertising. The Internet is poised to be the most targeting-efficient medium in advertising history. In the March 28, 2000, column, “It’s All about Targeting,” I pointed out that 89 percent of Internet users would click on an ad for reasons of product interest. Curiosity, sweepstakes, and other gimmicks have their place, but their place is to stand in line way, way behind the impact of intelligently targeted advertising.
Speaking of targeting, I showed in one column that Internet users who go online both at home and at work are a remarkably elite segment. Some 65 percent of home-and-work users have a college diploma, and their median household income is a whopping $67,000. While demographic segmentation is often a handy tool, behavioral segmentation can be even stronger.
Shopping Online, Buying Offline
In another column, I noted that of the items for which Internet shoppers browse online, they complete the transaction 15 percent of the time online, but 43 percent of the time offline. Yep, a 3:1 ratio in favor of buying offline.
Further, 34 percent of online shoppers never actually complete a transaction online. Ads should be crafted with the goal of influencing sales in whatever channel; putting all your eggs in the click-and-buy basket is bad strategy (unless, of course, that’s your only basket). When people lament the fact that click-through rates have fallen below one percent, I point out that the click-through rate for highway billboards is holding steady at zero percent.
Privacy and Security Concerns Are Huge
I also wrote that privacy and security concerns are huge barriers for advertisers and e-commerce firms to overcome. Eighty-four percent of Internet users would not give out a great deal of personal information in return for free Internet access, and 38 percent say the accuracy of their site registrations “depends on the site.”
As for security, a full 46 percent of Internet shoppers have abandoned an online transaction out of security concerns, which usually means that the individual is afraid that his or her credit card information will be hijacked in cyberspace.
Opt-in Email Works
Opt-in email is one of the most effective but underutilized items in the online marketing toolbox. In one column, I argued that advertisers who dedicate themselves to the idea that opt-in emails must be a useful service to the customer are the ones most likely to succeed. If your product is subject to price fluctuations or seasonality, or is information-intensive, then it is a good candidate for opt-in techniques.
I dedicated a number of columns to exploring the state of the art for advertising in specific product or service categories, including cars, books, finance, health care, travel, and computer equipment.
Another column described how broadband technology will revolutionize Internet advertising, but showed that the general public knows precious little about high-speed access.
I pointed out that major consumer brands, as of 1999, were remarkably absent from the Internet and that most advertising today is oriented toward online purchasing, not toward building brand equity.
And there were others, but this is the Cliff Notes summary. Feel free to use crib notes, too.
Finally, I would like to thank Ad Metrics readers for all the feedback I’ve gotten. ClickZ readers truly are pioneering a remarkable industry segment, and I wish everyone all the best.