No 2001-3 Tuesday, February 27, 2001
|Most Internet users visit financial news Web sites during the day||
Basing ourselves on the information collected through this panel, here is a series of exclusive figures concerning the time when Internet users visit financial news Web sites.
What first strikes us is that visits mainly take place in the daytime. Visits are distributed between 8.00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. and constitutes 83% of the total number of visits.
Similarly to what we saw on banking sites, we can notice that Internet users visit financial news Web sites at two different times. The first peak happens in the morning, between 9.00 am and 11.00 a.m. (22.38 percent of the visits) when the second happens at the end of the day, between 5.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. (8.88 percent of the visits). Please be aware that both peaks correspond to surf that is made from work, which appears logical when we know how French Internet users behave on news Web sites.
In fact, this coincidence between visits on financial sites and banks is the mark of a real relationship.
By analysing the data we collected through this panel, we noticed that Internet users behave in the same way on both sites. Users go and collect information on financial news Web sites before they go and check their bank accounts or even make a few operations on their accounts. Such relationship proves even stronger between broking sites and financial news sites.
Another element worth mentioning is the fact that we no longer notice a peak at lunchtime.
When we could have thought that there would be more hits between 12.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. (13.48% of the visits, which only represents 16.24% of the total amount of the visits that take place during the day), it proves that users are in fact more quiet at that time of day.
As companies now benefit from permanent connections, Internet users no longer see any point in waiting for a quiet period to get connected. They can surf as soon as they have a free moment.
|The future of the banner is still looking rosy|
The proof is that the click through rate has not stopped decreasing in the last three years and would be around 0.1% today.
It is true that advertising agencies tend to block this tendency by working very hard at seducing Internet users: promotion of the Rich media, teasing, clear display of promotional offers, promise of games, etc
It is true that these innovations manage to produce a better click through rate on the advertising campaigns but their effect does not last long.
The market share constituted by ad banners in the online advertising budget never stops decreasing at the cost of the following elements: headings' sponsorship, email marketing or even affiliation.
So, is the classical format of the ad banner really a lost case?
Let's analyse the arguments that are most often used against such format.
"Click through rates are decreasing"
This is obvious. But that was to be expected given the tremendous increase in the number of Internet pages that display advertising. If the click-through averages were sustained to their 1997 level, users wouldn't be doing anything but clicking on ads!
Joking apart, this proves that the most important criterion of measure must be the "absolute" number of clicks that leads to "real" visits from the users and not only the simple click through rate since disappointed users usually leave the site they have been prompted to visit as soon as they get on it.
What's more, this click through rate criterion cannot resume the impact banners really have all on its own. There is no doubt that advertising campaigns bring value to a site, even though such investment remains difficult to assess.
The first studies that were made about the results of advertising campaigns tend to show that those who prove more interesting are not necessarily the users who click on a banner at once but those who first take the time to digest the brand value and then only go to the site. Their aim is then clearly shown and appears coupled with a favourable preconceived idea.
"The Internet is not an evocative media"
It would be stupid to compare the nature of a 30-second TV commercial that can tell a real story with a simple ad banner.
But these two formats answer needs that are very different. The first one tends to establish a brand when the second format only operates in a second position, as a way to remind a brand slogan in a suitable context.
"Nobody looks at banners any more"
It is true that Internet users do not really pay attention to banners. And yet, as banners are usually located at the top of Web pages, users cannot help but see them.
A study that was carried out by the Poynter Institute in May 2000 shows that 45% of Internet users look directly on ads when reading the news online and focus on the banners for an average of about one second.
"People on the Internet have no interest in banners"
Once more, this is not exactly what advertisers expect from Internet users, just as advertisers who use advertising along the roads do not ask drivers to stop and look at their signs.
More modestly, advertisers should try and be at the right place at the right time. This is how they could associate, in the consumer's mind, the services or products they have to offer to what Internet users really need.
It is mainly direct marketing that puts the blame on ad banners and yet these indicators cannot measure the aim of these advertising campaigns all on their own or else it would mean questioning advertising campaigns themselves.
I think that the ad banner format mainly suffered from is its technical potentialities.
These potentialities got a whole set of fantasies going among advertisers but also websites, which fantasized about the format's magical aspect that was supposed to answer all types of needs (branding, direct marketing, reporting in real time, etc ) at a cost much lower than the other means of communication.
Faced with the novelty, there was much expectation and the deception that can be seen today is only the after-effect of these promises.
Considered as a simple mean of communication with its assets and its limits, the ad banner should end up having a more stable position in the advertisers' media plans, along with the following elements: headings' sponsorship, emailing, affiliation or offline advertising campaigns.
more, nothing less!