OPA: Content Sites Better Buys Than Ad Networks
The report is the fourth in a series of studies by the OPA finding member sites like USAToday.com and Discovery.com outpace Internet industry norms (based on Dynamic Logic's MarketNorms) as well as ad networks and portals in ad effectiveness and brand impact.
Within the key 18- to 34-year-old demographic, the study showed ad networks had a negative impact on purchase intent and failed improve brand favorability.
"Ad network performance has declined to a point where they provide no significant increase in purchase intent to advertisers, said OPA President Pam Horan. "As a result of this insignificance, the average brand campaign may not achieve greater brand lift by advertising on an ad network."
The most popular ad sizes -- medium rectangles, leaderboards and wide skyscrapers -- performed significantly better on branded content sites across most ad metrics. Video ads also showed better results on OPA sites, especially in purchase intent, ad awareness and message association.
Consumers are also more likely to be involved with interactive ads on content sites, with a higher impact on awareness, message association, brand favorability and purchase intent.
In terms of industry categories, CPG, entertainment and telecom ads on premium sites surpassed industry norms, especially in more metrics like brand favorability and purchase intent. By contrast, telecom and travel ads on portals, and technology ads run across ad networks, led to statistically negligible purchase intent.
A separate study by research firm Advertiser Perceptions recently found 52% of agencies and marketers plan to spend more on content sites this year this year, while only 35% were likely to increase budgets for ad networks. To help lure more ad dollars to branded content sites, the OPA last year introduced three oversized ad units, including the widespread push-down format.
However, spending on performance-based advertising -- more closely associated with ad networks -- continued to increase last year. The category accounted for 60% of online ad revenue in 2009, up from 57% the prior year. CPM-based buys decreased from 39% to 37% of buys and hybrid-pricing models fell from 4% to 3% of ad sales, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.