Study Details Impact of Web Ads on Business Execs

Internet Now Preferred Medium for Reaching Decision Makers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Internet is the preferred and most effective form of media for advertisers trying to target business decision-makers, according to a survey released today.

77% of the executives said the Web is the best way to stay current with new products and new companies.

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The research, conducted online by Nielsen/NetRatings' @plan and Minnesota Opinion Research, in conjunction with washingtonpost.com, surveyed nearly 1,000 business decision-makers and found that 60% of those polled said the Web is the best way for advertisers to reach them. Nearly 50% of participants said the Web has influenced them to make a purchase or obtain a service for their business, and 50% of the respondents who increased their Web usage in the last year said they decreased TV viewing.

Web trumps other media
Other traditional media were also affected, the study found: 47% of those polled decreased their newspaper readership; 45% magazine readership; and 18% decreased radio listenership. Of those polled, 77% said the Web is the place they find out about new products and companies.

Excluding e-mail, 92% of respondents said they read general news during the workday; 45% read financial news and checked stocks.

Research conducted earlier this year by Forbes.com and also by the Online Publishers Association revealed similar findings about the growing importance of Internet media to business decision-makers. The new survey goes a step further by examining Internet usage across diverse disciplines ranging from human resources and legal to marketing and business consulting professionals.

Finding them at work
The survey also found that Internet advertising hits business decision-makers at a crucial time: when they are at work.

"[Business decision-makers] are focused on the task at hand, so that when ads are served to them they're engaged," said Chris Schroeder, CEO-publisher of Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive. "If I'm an advertiser, I want the business decision-makers when they're engaged and making decisions." For Mr. Schroeder, the Web essentially becomes an influencing tool.

"[Internet] content serves a task or business decision" and is not a "discrete activity," said Chris Charron, research director, Forrester Research. "It's a strategic and tactical need" that drives business decision-makers to the Web for information to support key decisions.

29% of online audience
Business decision-makers comprise 29% of the total Web audience, and their online media consumption habits may have implications for all consumers.

"I think it's happening across the board. ... Consumers use the Web to plan their day, vacation and so forth," Mr. Schroeder said.

"Consumers looking to buy a flat-screen TV are looking for a review of the product" so they go to the Web, Mr. Charron said. "Consumers are also much more strategic about how they use the Web." With this in mind media companies, Mr. Charron added, will "have to rethink the way they create, package and deliver content. That's the bottom line."

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