Users Request More Targeted Ads, Study Says

While the majority of U.S. Web users say they see too many ads, they wouldn’t mind having those ads better targeted to their needs. And 91 percent of those over-exposed to advertising would prefer using a search engine rather than being served ads, according to a new survey conducted by Nielsen//Netratings on behalf of small businesses ad software provider WebVisible.

Overall, the survey found that 73 percent of U.S. Internet users believe that they are over-exposed to advertising. At the same time, only 24 percent of people said their shopping habits are never influenced by advertising they encounter.

Those surveyed gave highest marks to the Internet and television when it came to delivering relevant ads. Relevance The study shows 56 percent of participants said the Internet provides consumers with at least some ads they need or want each month; 53 percent said the same of TV. In fact, two-thirds wished ads were better targeted to their needs at least once a month.

Over 70 percent said they’d rather use a search engine to find products and services than see ads. So it’s not surprising nearly 75 percent said search engines are their first stop for seeking out a local retailer or service. Sixty-five percent said print yellow pages were a resource, while half said they use online yellow pages.

When broken down by location, it was found that 81 percent of people in urban locations use search engines, and 63 percent use Internet yellow pages. In rural environments, only 64 percent use search engines and 50 percent online yellow pages.

The study also shows Internet users prefer to gather information from multiple sources when looking online for local information. It found 75 percent of people rely on a variety of sources to find local businesses, only six percent use a single trusted source, and the remaining number having no “trusted” source of information.

“It’s easy to say everything should be on the Internet, but there is that multichannel aspect that still exists,” said Ransom. “Consumers are using multiple sources and therefore as advertisers you need to think as consumers do,” said Carey Ransom, VP sales and Marketing at WebVisible.

For the “Advertising to a Web 2.0 Community” survey, WebVisible crafted a series of Internet usage questions for Nielsen//Netratings’s million member panel of U.S. Internet users, collecting responses from 2,000 randomly selected participants.

When asked, “Are you more influenced by a quality Web site from an unfamiliar business, or a poor Web site from a familiar business?” the survey found that 76.5 percent of people were more influenced by a quality Web site from an unfamiliar business.

“We thought it would be the other way around…but it emphasizes that having a quality Web site is essential to capture and convert more business,” said David Reeve, manager of corporate marketing for WebVisible, who wrote the survey questions.

The survey is good news for local businesses relying on search marketing to drive business. Over 85 percent of those surveyed said they have used the Internet to find a local business, up from 70 percent last year.

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