In household rankings, the Gartner report places this region third in average annual income, at $52,420, out of nine U.S. regions surveyed. Due largely to New York State’s large rural area relative to the three states’ total area, PC penetration ranks eighth, at 52 percent, well below the national average of 59 percent. Internet access also ranks eighth, at 45 percent, just below the national average of 48 percent. Ann Marshman, Gartner analyst and co-author of the regional report, confirms that “the fundamental drivers of PC ownership tend to be income and the presence of children in the household, as well as some professional development.”
In assessing adult individuals’ online behavior, the Gartner report pegs the mid-Atlantic region as eighth in Internet access (61 percent), second in online shopping (43 percent), and tied for fourth in online buying (29 percent). In terms of percentage of users versus the percentage that shop and buy, the region’s ratio ranks first (70 percent of users shop and 48 percent buy). The region’s browse-to-buy index ranks third.
In terms of commercial activity, media and otherwise, New York City looms over the rest of the country. Home to many thousands of businesses with online addresses, media buyers have, it could be argued, too many choices. Some of the more popular regional websites are affiliated with major newspapers, leveraging their print progenitors’ brand and content, while adding digital features. Newyork.com (www.newyork.com) is one of the few higher profile unaffiliated sites in this market, using a restaurant reservations system to differentiate itself.
For news, the online crossroads of the world is The New York Times Digital’s site, NYTimes.com (www.nytimes.com). Educated demos from around the world click onto the site to get intelligent, thorough coverage of national and international news and culture. And yet, despite the Times site’s high profile, it does not crack the top five in unique regional visitors (UV), according to an October 2000 Media Metrix report (home use only).
With 6.9 million unique visitors, New Yorkers’ most visited sites that month were AOL (4.57 million UV), Yahoo (4.0 million), Microsoft (3.73 million), Excite (2.33 million), and Lycos (2.31 million). The same five sites dominate web traffic in Philly (1.98 million total UV) and in Pittsburgh (711,000 total UV).
AOL’s Digital City realm and Yahoo’s regional sites offer a logical mix of advertising opportunities. AOL lists sponsorships, banners, permanent links, and text promotions, and Yahoo’s mix is similar. Yahoo’s city sites are not as deep as AOL’s, but many links to smaller towns are also offered.
Alternative offerings are exemplified by the venerable Village Voice’s site (www.villagevoice.com). The website uses a search engine and a deep, culturally oriented database to compete with more heavily trafficked competition.
David Purdue, marketing strategist for Elliance, which partners with ad agencies by providing technical backing to optimize agency e-marketing campaigns, recommends testing several website classifications to determine better ROI rates. He believes New York’s online realm to be so multifarious that there is no clear path to good returns. Larger sites that offer regional coverage may be “drilled down to find specific vertical opportunities within run-of-site offerings,” he says.
When asked how one would target New Yorkers online, Purdue breaks down a process. “Determine the product’s unique selling proposition, run some models, and based on the results, create an opt-in e-mail program that all but compels the user to visit the product website.” One of Purdue’s clients, Onmoney.com, tripled its banner response rate over an eight-week period via this flexible methodology. “We are very specific in testing qualified sites. The cost-per-click may be more, but you’re assured of reaching the right audience, which will translate into more foot traffic in your retail outlet, if that’s what you’re seeking.”
At RealPittsburgh.com (www.realpittsburgh.com), city site development manager Paige Beal reports that advertisers occasionally buy across media, at the site’s sister outlet, the local CBS TV affiliate. But most of the site’s income derives from “sponsorships from all sorts of businesses,” she says. The site is one of Cox Interactive’s 26 city-themed web plays and draws nearly 3 million page views per month.
At Philly.com (inq.philly.com), which generates 28 million page views per month, online sales director Jessica Strapp has had consistent success with sponsorship programs that cover more than one of the Knight-Ridder properties linked to the website. These include the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. “There has to be a compelling package,” Strapp says, “with editorial environments that lend themselves to online sponsors.
“This is what our top advertisers respond to—being affiliated with the Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, we put together multimedia packages that work well,” Strapp adds. “Typically, one advertiser, such as a car dealership, will sponsor the sports area of the website, run ads in the sports pages of the newspapers and get time on our radio station partner.”
A Closer Look www.nytimes.com All electronic roads converge at the media capital’s prime deliverer of news, opinion and cultural coverage. With millions of hits daily, from around the world, this is the answer to the question: “If you had one site to choose....”
www.villagevoice.com The nation’s leading liberal weekly supports this site, which is replete with cultural developments and activities in New York. Features extend to national issues. Trend-setting or -following?
www.realcities.com This network home page links you to NorthJersey.com, Philly.com, PittsburghFirst.com, and WilkesBarreScranton.com, all of which offer balanced coverage of their respective locales.
inq.philly.com As a spinoff of the Philadelphia Inquirer daily newspaper, which is a linchpin in the Knight-Ridder multi-media machine, this site covers the news and culture of the city and its suburbs.
www.newyork.com For the visitor to the Big Apple. Highlights include hotel search engine and online restaurant reservations.