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.
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."