Online ad-sales consortium targets at-work Net users

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In a move to lure premium advertisers to their popular Web destinations, five online publishers today launched the At-Work Brand Network, an ad-sales consortium that will target valuable consumers who are big users of the Internet during the daytime. CBS MarketWatch, CNET, NYTimes, USAToday and have joined forces for the effort, which kicks off today with AT&T Wireless as its first advertiser in an estimated $1 million media buy over four weeks.

`something universal'

"Daytime is prime time on the Internet," said Scot McLernon, exec VP-sales and marketing, CBS MarketWatch, who spearheaded the consortium. "What we have here is a unique opportunity for clients to get creative with five sites and build something universal across those sites that they wouldn't be able to do in one-offs," he said.

While broadcast media prime time remains 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. can deliver a key at-work audience to Internet advertisers, according to research by the Online Publishers Association and Millward Brown IntelliQuest.

Consumers accessing the Internet at work often return several times throughout the day and are a mostly affluent, tech-savvy audience. According to the research, 45% of the Internet audience at work has a household income of more than $75,000 vs. 22% of the at-home audience; 55% of the audience is female, 45% male. For at-work users, the Internet is the No. 1 media of choice during the workweek; they spend 34% of time during the work week using the Internet; 30% of their week watching TV; 26% listening to the radio; 6% reading magazines; 4% reading newspapers.

T.S. Kelly, director and principal media analyst, Nielsen/NetRatings, maintained that Internet usage takes place in all locations during the day. "We find that only about 10% of the entire active audience does their online activity exclusively in the workplace. A lot of people are online at home and online at multiple locations during the daytime." Day-parting follows a similar path as radio staking its claim to drive-time hours and TV to prime time. While estimates vary as to the number of at-work Internet surfers, Jupiter Research pegs it at 58 million.

"We're going to see online advertising emerge as probably second only to TV for reaching a mass consumer audience," said Jeff Lanctot, chief media strategist for Avenue A, Seattle. Avenue A handles media buying, planning, tracking and strategy for AT&T Wireless; Whitehorse Studios, Portland, Ore., creates AT&T `s Internet ads and promotions. "Things like day-parting are familiar to traditional advertisers," Mr. Lanctot said.

up to eight formats

During the program's four-week run, AT&T Wireless will use up to eight different large interactive ad formats and receive prominent placement on the home pages of the five publishers. The online-only promotion offers a free Panasonic Versio wireless phone or $150 off a Motorola V60 phone when a consumer signs up for wireless service. Dynamic Logic and Avenue A will evaluate the results at the end of the program. More than five advertisers are in talks to purchase a program with the At-Work Brand Network.

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