Site affinity boosts ads' performance

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New research shows advertising performance is significantly affected by users' affinity to the site on which they view the ads. Research by the Online Publishers Association, to be released today, demonstrates that targeting sites that attract loyal audiences produces statistically superior results.

The OPA study, "The Impact of Audience Affinity on Advertising Performance," was conducted as a live test with four marketers on several OPA-member sites, including Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN.com, Microsoft Corp.'s Slate, Conde Nast's CondeNet, Primedia's About.com, Weather.com and New York Times Co.'s New York Times Digital.

two-month period

Participating marketers included AT&T Corp., (promoting an unlimited long distance offer), Colgate-Palmolive Co.(Colgate Total toothpaste) and an unnamed wireless handset marketer and a wine brand. The participating marketers were all clients of WPP Group's Digital Edge, New York, and used the same sizebanner ad over a two-month period.

Consumers were asked: "How likely are you to purchase this brand in the next three months?" High-affinity consumers were 38% more likely to purchase a product after viewing an ad on a Web site to which they have an attachment, compared with 32% for low/medium affinity consumers. The finding has a statistical significance of 95%, according to researcher Millward Brown/IntelliQuest, which conducted the analysis that produced an "affinity index" used in the research; ComScore Networks performed field work for the study.

Karen Milke-Perry, media director, AT&T, said, "The study showed us that high-affinity sites deliver the most receptive audience to our message. Moving forward, we will consider this as we consider higher-cost sites vs. lower-cost [quality] and more frequency-driven buys," she said. The findings validate what AT&T has learned in the off-line world, she said: "Quality content that attracts a high-affinity audience is a key driver of success, more so than frequency alone."

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