Polls Show Consumers React Well to Pollster

As citizens the world over are well aware, this is an election year in the U.S. — a significant one at that. Those who have been following along (and who watch as much “West Wing” as I do) know that means a massive amount of voter polling is taking place. As a media buyer, I envy the political parties’ ability to dig deep into consumer minds and gauge thoughts and opinions on the spot.

With the introduction of a new product from PointRoll, interactive marketers can now enjoy the same privilege.

In late August, the rich media ad developer launched Pollster, an instantaneous online polling feature that can be incorporated into any PointRoll format. The feature allows advertisers to develop a series of relevant consumer questions and query Internet users on topics relating to their products. Users answer the questions using PointRoll’s point-and-roll maneuver.

Online polling is nothing new. Anyone who’s visited CNN.com (or virtually any online publication) can attest to that. For interactive marketers, however, accessing this capability in online ad form is rather exciting. In addition to encouraging users to interact with their rich media ads, it makes collecting valuable consumer data easy and, as PointRoll reports, “connects the advertiser directly to the opinion of the target.”

In other words, it’s an instantly gratifying, immensely less tortuous alternative to conducting offline market research. The benefits don’t end there.

Consider the direction Fujifilm took with its recent polling-enabled PointRoll ad. Designed to help consumers find their ideal digital camera, the ad queries users about their top criteria for a camera (“ease and simplicity,” “form and function,” or “advanced features and near professional quality”); preferred print sizes; and price range. Once users complete the quick quiz, they’re provided with a customized recommendation and offered information on other Fujifilm digital cameras.

In an equally clever ad that recently ran on Yahoo, Oral-B attempted to assess consumer perceptions of toothbrushes and the importance of dental care in their lives. A Cosmo-type personal evaluation is provided, based on individual consumer’s responses, along with a product coupon offer specific to that consumer’s wants and needs.

Are you starting to see the possibilities? PointRoll advertisers certainly are. A number of film studios are exploring the idea of featuring multiple movie trailers in their ads, then instantly polling viewers on their preferences.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest” among online marketers like these, says Andy Ellenthal, PointRoll’s senior VP of global sales. “This is a really fun way for an advertiser to get users to engage with a brand, and it’s a great way for a brand to get the right and relevant information to the consumers. [Pollster] delivers a really powerful creative message.”

Like many of today’s ad technologies, such as contextual and behavioral targeting, there are intrinsic advantages for the consumer, too.

“If I’m a consumer getting an offer based on my preferences and am getting a more appropriate offer in real time, that benefits me,” Ellenthal notes. “You want to see something relevant while still maintaining privacy.”

Based on data PointRoll has collected from recent campaigns, consumers who have interacted with its polls respond well to the targeted ad content. The Fujifilm campaign proved four to five times more effective than standard PointRoll ads, surpassing the company’s benchmark performance rates, says Ellenthal.

Media buyers interested in giving Pollster a try are also sure to be wooed by the company’s pricing policy: no charge for added features. The company views Pollster and other enhanced features as bonus functionality.

Advertisers who target a broader audience or for whom weighing consumer opinion isn’t an immediate concern can also make use of Pollster. “Interpersonal media company” Tickle is using the feature in a campaign running on NYTimes.com. It functions as a teaser to get players to complete an IQ test on its site. TV’s “Animal Planet” recently polled users on their pets’ mindset to promote a new program, “The Pet Psychic.”

Consumers had better prepare to share their thoughts. And marketers, get ready to listen.

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