OPA: Branded content brings valuable buyers

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Branded original content sites deliver more valuable buyers than do portal and search sites, a recent study by the Online Publishers Association found.

The study, "The OPA Advantage: Attracting the Most Valuable Buyers," details the demographics and purchasing activity of Web users across OPA branded content sites along with portals and search sites such as AOL, Google and Yahoo. The results indicate that visitors to the OPA sites bought more frequently and spent more money across several major categories including automotive, entertainment, financial, home, travel and business to business.

"We wanted to show another view of online advertising," said Pam Horan, president of OPA. "As marketers are evaluating their online media plans, it's important they see the value of audiences on branded content sites."

A third-party researcher, DJG Marketing, conducted the study using recent data from Nielsen//NetRatings' @Plan Summer 2006 index and MRI's Spring 2006 index.

On OPA content sites, visitors were found to research more, buy more, engage in more transactions and spend more money. The study found that across a range of verticals consumers purchased products both related and unrelated to the vertical they were visiting.

OPA members include About.com, AllBusiness.com, Brides.com, CNN.com, ConsumerReports.org, MTV.com, The New York Times Company, Slate, Time Inc. Interactive, Walt Disney Internet Group and The Weather Channel Inc.

"These branded sites are investing significantly in the best editorial content," Ms. Horan said. "Consumers trust the brands, and there's a halo effect that marketing on these sites can have."

A JupiterResearch study in late August supports this point. It looked at marketers' investments in viral and social media along with consumer perception of the channels.

"Only 21 percent of consumers trust product information within social media, such as blogs and public forums, when evaluating a product for purchase," according to the market researcher's "Viral Marketing: Budgeting Beyond Social Media."

"The reality is that there's a value that user-generated content plays," Ms. Horan said. "Many sites in our association are taking on blogs ... but what is continuing to bring consumers and marketers back ... is original, vetted content."

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