Study: Branded Content Sites Win Out Over Portals

Marketers take notice: If you're looking for active online investors, some of them might be working on their cars.

How do we know this?  The Online Publishers Association (OPA) just completed a detailed analysis of the demographics and purchasing activity of Web users, creating a new guide for understanding and quantifying the best online advertising environments.

The OPA research is based on a simple premise--marketers place a premium on connecting directly with audiences that engage in specific activities that matter to them.  After all, record labels need music buyers, online brokers need active securities traders, and airlines need frequent flyers.

Using the most recent data from Nielsen Netratings' @Plan Summer 2006 index and MRI's Spring 2006 index, the study finds a clear pattern: across a broad spectrum of activities and demographic measurements, audiences of OPA sites--branded original content sites--offer a significant audience advantage over portals and search sites.



This advantage is nearly universal in the categories that are most important to marketers, such as automotive, financial, and travel. In each major category, OPA audiences more actively purchase goods and services, conduct online research and engage in financial transactions--and often spend considerably more money.

Looking at the activity of online investors provides a good glimpse of this value.  According to MRI indices, OPA audiences are about one-third more likely to track and trade securities online than portal and search site visitors.

The OPA study also considers the unique attributes of audiences that visit specific types of sites.  Across the range of key verticals--Automotive, Business News, Entertainment, Health, Information/Review, Lifestyle, News/Current Events and Sports--OPA audiences are attractive both for advertising related directly to that vertical and for a wide range of advertising categories. 

That's how we know about those car-conscious investors.  In fact, the study demonstrates that a wide spectrum of OPA sites index very high for active investors.  For example, OPA health sites index 32 percent higher for active investors than the health sections of portal sites, while OPA automotive sites index 74 percent higher for active investors than the automotive sections of portal sites.

Video is becoming exponentially more important for marketers, so the OPA study also looked at the multimedia habits of online audiences. The advantage of branded original content sites is once again apparent. Audiences on these sites actively consume all types of online video, outpacing both general Web audiences and portal audiences.   For example, OPA visitors are 22 percent more likely to watch breaking news online and 24 percent more likely to watch pre-recorded TV.  And they not only watch--they pay.  OPA news site audiences are 57 percent more likely to have a paid online video or audio subscription than portal site visitors.

In category after category, activity after activity, branded original content site audiences exhibit the attributes and behaviors that make them extraordinarily valuable for advertisers of all kinds.  They frequently purchase big-ticket items and related goods and services, they consume online video of all types and are willing to pay for it, and they have demographics that are in-demand.

This view of online audiences presents a compelling picture of a very rich and valuable advertising environment that exists at OPA member sites.  It is a roadmap that allows marketers to know--in a much more precise way--where to find the most likely buyers.

To view the research, go to

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