Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quality Grows as Top Factor in Car Buying Decisions


45% of Americans say that quality is the factor that most influences their car-buying decision, representing 22% growth from 37% who cited the factor in 2010, according to a CarMax survey released in December 2011 conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. Data from the survey indicates that price is the second most influential factor, voted by 22% of respondents, down from 28% in 2011. Fewer Americans also cite safety as being most influential when choosing a car, selected by 15% of respondents this year, compared to 22% in 2010. By contrast, resale value has grown in importance, rising from 4% of respondents last year to 7% this year, while environmental or green factors have remained unchanged at 6%.

Quality More Important to Men, Affluent

Men are 46% more likely than women to take quality into account when choosing a car (54% vs. 37%), while consumers with a household income of at least $75,000 are also more likely than those with lower incomes to pick quality as the most important factor in their decision (55% vs. 40%). Price is almost twice as likely to be the most influential factor among those with a household income under $75,000 than among those who are more affluent (27% vs. 14%), while safety is more of a concern for parents than it is for adults without a child under 18 (20% vs. 13%), much the same as it was in 2010 (27% vs. 18%).

Women Want an Easy Transaction

Meanwhile, according to a separate CarMax survey conducted by Ipsos released in November, roughly 1 in 4 women said what was most missing from their last car-buying experience was a quick and effortless transaction.  A fair trade-in value, trustworthy salesperson, or low, fair pricing (all at 15%) were most missing for relatively fewer women. In 2009, when a similar study was conducted, the leading element missing from the experience was also a quick and easy transaction (25%), followed by a fair trade-in value (19%), a trustworthy salesperson (15%), and low, fair pricing (13%).

Financing Relatively Unimportant

Just 13% of women felt that a reasonable finance rate was most lacking from their car-buying experience, unchanged from 2009. However, women residing in the South (17%) and West (15%) appeared far more likely than those in the Northeast (6%) to cite this as a missing element of their experience.

About the Data: The Ipsos poll concerning car-buying factors was conducted October 6-11, 2011 among a nationally representative sample of 1,001 randomly-selected adults aged 18 and over, who were interviewed by telephone. The poll concerning women’s experiences was conducted online from October 4-11, 2011 among a national sample of 510 women aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ US online panel.

Political Campaigning Enters Age of Technology

Political Campaigning Enters Age of Technology

Lawmakers and Campaigns Are Looking For a More Active Web Presence

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Rep. Joe Wilson used Google AdWords to direct controversy-spurred Internet searches to their official websites.

With more and more constituents looking for information about their Members of Congress online, offices and campaigns are spending more time and energy focused on online advertising. While traditional banner ads and video advertisements that play before or during online videos continue to be used, some offices and candidates are reaching out to constituents.

A favorite for attracting traffic to Congressional campaign websites is Google AdWords. With AdWords, the search engine giant allows advertisers to bid against one another to see who can place their text-based advertisements on a search result page. Advertisements are targeted to appear alongside specified search terms and within specified locations. The winning bidder gets an ad displayed alongside the organic search results until another advertiser places a higher bid.

According to Wesley Donehue, CEO of political Internet firm Donehue Direct, Google AdWords is the place to start when people are looking to find out more about a candidate or current Member. Donehue’s firm has worked with Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who became the target of much Google searching after he yelled, “You lie!” at Obama during a 2009 speech.

“When a hot news story breaks and people want to learn more about it, [Google] is the place to go,” said Donehue, who helped Wilson direct traffic to his campaign website after the incident.

Herman Cain’s presidential campaign used Google AdWords earlier this year. For a while, searching terms related to the sexual harassment claims being levied against him — including the name of one accuser, “Sharon Bialek,” or “Herman Cain Scandal” — would bring up sponsored results linking to his campaign material.

Targeting Constituents
The advertising technique that is gaining in popularity for Senate campaigns and House offices and campaigns is Facebook ads, which can now be narrowed down to target certain ZIP codes.

According to a blog post by Facebook that was last updated about four months ago, targeting by ZIP code was introduced to give advertisers better access to users in more specific locations.

“Intentionally or not, ZIP codes have become particularly useful for detailing definable community populace attributes. Most influential research on demographics, including the U.S. Census, use ZIP codes as their most fine grained level of segmentation,” the blog post says, explaining that the targeting “opens up another avenue for advertisers to market to their desired audience.”

According to franking rules, House offices can advertise online, as long as the advertisements are directed only to constituents and do not include pictures of the Members.

Facebook’s ZIP code targeting is mostly accurate in directing Congressional ads to that Member’s constituents, said Andrew Foxwell, manager of new media and marketing at iConstituent, a digital communications firm that has worked with more than 300 Congressional offices and has done ads for 90 of them.

Foxwell estimates that about 150 Congressmen are using Facebook advertising. According to a case study done about the company, offices that placed Facebook ads with the help of iConstituent for one week received three times as much constituent interaction on the Member’s official Facebook page. The case study summarized the results as being a “10X return on investment as compared to a traditional, glossy paper mailer for one-tenth of the price.”

For Donehue, Facebook is the way to go if you want to target specific groups in a geographically small district.

“Facebook is the best way to go if you’re trying to reach a really niche audience,” he said, citing Facebook’s ability to target based on user-supplied, specific information. “You can’t get that level of targeting through Google.”

Donehue added that this could change if Google’s social media platform, Google Plus, gains steam. Google then would have access to similar information about its users, giving it a better ability to target advertisements.

Two-Way Traffic
Foxwell views Facebook ads as a way not just to advertise to constituents but to engage with them.

“Facebook and Twitter are essential tools for a 21st-century democracy,” he said. “If we can collectively re-engage our citizens using technology and social media by breaking down barriers for meaningful dialogue, then we are doing something right by ensuring these mediums are used by Members’ official offices.”

Of course, the marketplace of ideas is a rough-and-tumble place. But that doesn’t bother Foxwell.

“Even if you get people speaking negatively, at least their voice is being heard,” he said.

Others have reservations when it comes to Facebook ads, despite the low price. Jacobs said Facebook users are often on the website for social, not political, reasons. “When you’re on Facebook, you’re not looking for that information like you are when you’re searching on Google,” he said.

Jacobs also said that getting the attention of Facebook users, such as getting people to “Like” a page or status update, is not necessarily the same as getting voters. “You’re getting them into your Facebook group, you’re not getting their email address,” he said, adding, “I’d rather get 10,000 email addresses than 100,000 Facebook fans.”

On the engaging aspect of Facebook: Well-known politicians don’t need to advertise to get feedback, and lesser-known politicians can look like they just want attention. “You want to at least show the flag. But Facebook users have already become savvy enough that they see through gimmicks designed to get them to click on an ad,” Jacobs said.

While Jacobs would suggest covering one’s bases by purchasing Facebook ads, he urges clients to also devote resources to other methods. “We had far more success with video and paid search, both in terms of the percentage of the clicks that turned into sign-ups and the cost per acquisition,” he said, referring to the 2010 campaign of then-Rep. Tom Perriello, although the Virginia Democrat lost.

Bid on a Tweet
The next big thing on the horizon for Congressional offices and campaigns? Promoted content on Twitter.

According to Twitter Director of Communications Matt Graves, promoted tweets, which appear within a user’s Twitter feed even if they are not following the advertiser’s account, were introduced in April of last year, and promoted accounts, which appear as the first suggestion of “Who to follow” along the right side of a user’s home page, were introduced in October 2010.

Both of those features operate on a bidding system, where advertisers bid to have their tweets or account names appear on users’ Twitter home pages. Promoted trends, which appear slightly farther down the right side of a user’s home page, were introduced in June of last year and can be purchased for $120,000 per country per day, Graves said.

According to Graves, targeting on Twitter is done by a few factors, including which accounts — and national campaigns — a user already follows, any lists the user is on and the self-reported content of a user’s profile, such as describing oneself as a “political junkie.”

Graves said that a benefit of the promoted content on Twitter is its placement within the site.

“These are just normal tweets,” he said of the material that appears either within a user’s Twitter feed or directly alongside it. “They’re appearing where people expect them to appear.”

Although it’s not accessible to Congressional offices just yet, people are already looking forward to the continued opening of promoted content on Twitter.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Jacobs said, explaining that, in his experience, Twitter’s setup encourages users to leave the site to consume outside content more than Facebook’s does. “People are much more accustomed to click links on Twitter that take them off Twitter,” he said.

Jacobs also pointed to the placement of advertising on Twitter. “Ad placement is much more advantageous than Facebook,” he said, citing studies that show how users read websites. Typically, he said, users read more of the top of a website and less as they scroll down. “Twitter advertising is much more mobile-friendly than Facebook advertising,” he added.

But whether you’re in office or running for one, using Google AdWords or Facebook, or waiting patiently to hop on the Twitter bandwagon, strategists often stress the importance of tailoring online advertising strategies to the race.

“Every race, every candidate, every district is different,” Donehue said.

Correction: Dec. 13, 2011

The article incorrectly stated that Congressional campaigns cannot purchase promoted content on Twitter. Twitter promoted content is currently open to Congressional campaigns.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Online Standards Inch Closer to Standarization

Nine months into an industrywide initiative to overhaul and standardize the Wild West landscape of online metrics, organizers are taking cautious steps into a pilot testing phase through 2012, acknowledging the profound implications of their work for everyone on the buying and selling sides of the media ecosystem, not to mention those who currently measure its traffic.

The Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative, a joint venture of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), has progressed from outlining general goals and operating principles toward a six-month testing period slated to begin in the first quarter of 2012, noting even that shift has been a tender one given its seismic potential for advertising in a cross-platform world.

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And while the two biggest players currently in online audience measurement, comScore and Nielsen, are not represented among the 3MS panel’s 40 members — a deliberate exclusion — both companies said that they have a good working relationship with the panel and have already taken proactive steps to offer metrics products that meet the new standards as they drop.

The problem of online metrics can be tidily and nearly universally summarized: “Look at four different measurement services and you’ll get four radically different pieces of information,” said David Cohen, global digital officer for Universal McCann in New York. “This has been a problem from day one and continues to be a problem today, so what we’re trying to do is step back, create a currency that is now extrapolatable across media types and move toward that.”

The vexing persistence of inconsistent online metrics may even be hampering the growth of digital and cross-platform ad sales. “I’m sure it’s not helping,” Cohen said. “To spend $100,000 in online advertising is far more complicated than $10 million in television.”

Steve Hasker, president of media products for Nielsen, agreed. “It doesn’t engender the kind of confidence in online display advertising that publishers would like and the industry would like,” he said.

So when the three advertising trade groups announced the 3MS initiative in February, the move was met with a loud chorus of support from all corners of the industry. Perhaps one of the most important validations came from George Ivie, CEO and executive director of the New York-based Media Rating Council, a private, nonprofit organization established by the industry in the 1960s at the urging of the U.S. government and charged with auditing and accrediting audience measurement research.

“It has been a great wake up call to the industry to focus on metrics, governance and making things more consistent,” Ivie said.

In June, the 3MS group announced its first major step, the articulation of five guiding principles for digital measurement. The first was to move toward a standard of “viewable impressions” rather than the served impressions currently counted to measure traffic. Since ad units are often outside a viewable space or don’t fully load before the ad server can see them, impressions are often substantially overcounted.

The second principle pushes online advertising to move to a currency based on audience impressions, not gross ad impressions. A third calls for the creation of a transparent classification system to mitigate the myriad ad types found in online media as opposed to traditional media. A fourth principle acknowledges an industry inundated in digital interaction metrics, many of which are irrelevant to brand marketers. It calls for identifying and defining metrics most valuable to brand marketers and defining and implementing reliable standards for the existing metrics.

The fifth and final principle may prove to be the initiative’s Holy Grail: making digital measurement increasingly comparable and integrated with other media. Doing so would facilitate cross-media platform planning, buying and evaluation, all of which is presently encumbered by digital’s stubborn exceptionalities.

The 3MS committee isn’t exactly starting from scratch. The MRC’s rigorous accreditation process, through which it can take metrics products years to pass, has a number of products both within and at the finished end of its pipeline that are addressing some of these standards. Ivie pointed to a product accredited over two years ago by Salt Lake City-based RealVu, for instance, which he said “essentially invented viewability,” along with other products currently under review by comScore, Nielsen and Omniture.

Still, the work in front of the panel is daunting. Sherill Mane, senior VP of industry services at the IAB, is one of the key players orchestrating it, and she said that plowing ahead into the testing phase wasn’t an option.

“Now that we have coalesced as an ecosystem around some guiding principles and some proposed solutions and we’ve embarked upon developing specifications for testing those solutions, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there are a plethora of variables that we have to take into account as we develop the tests, and the level of care and the level of detail is quite enormous,” Mane said.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

National Brands Look to Local Online Efforts - eMarketer

Online accounting for more local ad spending as local makes up a greater share of digital total. In the past, a combination of mass media and traditional local advertising was enough to draw consumers

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yahoo users searched for more international news than Bing users

The Casey Anthony trial was the most searched news story on Yahoo, as it was on Bing. However, news interests diverged from there.

Compared to Bing users, Yahoo users were more interested in finding news about unemployment, the Arab Spring and the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Before you conclude that Yahoo users are more high-minded than Bing users, they were also more interested in the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

See a list, and more info here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Alternate Online Piracy Bill Floated

2012 Trends: Cloud-Based Music Streaming - eMarketer

A mainstream activity—but only when it’s free. Despite better-than-expected business in the first half of 2011, the recorded music industry remains plagued by a decade-long decline in CD sales&m