Report: IM Underused as Ad Medium

A new report by JupiterResearch, a unit of JupiterKagan, finds that as few as 7 percent of marketers count advertising in instant messenger programs as part of their media plans. Entitled “Instant Messaging: Reaching a Young, Engaged Audience via an Underused Medium,” the report sees value in instant messenger ad placements as a component of network buys.

Portals like MSN, Yahoo and AOL actively promote their Instant Messenger (IM) platforms to marketers, yet many are still reticent to include the medium in the mix. This is despite the platforms’ heavily engaged audiences and huge impression counts.

“If you’re looking at a campaign across the network, it’s a fantastic way to leverage that and make sure your presence on Yahoo, MSN or AOL is across the whole platform,” said Sapna Satagopan, lead analyst on the JupiterKagan report.

The three portals count between 30 and 40 percent of their search users as regular IM users. Additionally, IM users are often logged in for long periods of time, though their face time with the applications varies greatly.

While IM is used heavily by teens and young adults, its user base is maturing. “IM has been around for so long, and one interesting aspect is that the population that started using IM, probably in the mid 90s, is no longer a teenager or a young adult, but is still using the IM platform,” said Satagopan.

That demographic range should make IM an attractive target for many types of advertisers. Marketers to embrace the medium have included Wells Fargo, Pepsi and many companies in the entertainment vertical.

“The targeting point is about getting them to interact more with the interface and get them to your Web site,” said Satagopan.

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