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DMCNY Speaker: Understanding Consumer Behavior Is Key to Online Strategy

NEW YORK — Today's consumers are multitaskers, and direct marketers need to adjust their initiatives to reflect that, George Durney, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Nielsen//NetRatings, said yesterday.

“Learning the behaviors of consumers online should be the foundation of your online strategy, because you can learn an awful lot about consumers online if you want to,” Durney told attendees at the Direct Marketing Club of New York luncheon.

So, how are consumer preferences shaping the online landscape?

Citing data from a Nielsen//NetRatings panel of Internet users, Durney said online consumers are fragmented in their media choices. For example, 50 percent watch television while surfing the Web. What's more, they are not watching and surfing the same brand. They may be watching ESPN on television, but online they're at www.sportsline.com or www.weather.com.

Durney said another hurdle is to engage consumers.

“How sites are able to get people to their Web site and stay there or keep coming back is a big challenge,” he said.

One way is to create a community, Durney said. He noted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Web site, which includes extra content around the Green Bay Packers football team that is highly popular with its subscribers.

Meanwhile, search engine marketing is still going strong, he said. The average Web searcher conducted 38 searches in July, up 4 percent over June, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

As for brands, “Google is the dominant player,” he said. In July, Google snared 46 percent of all searches, followed by Yahoo, 23 percent; MSN, 13 percent; AOL, 5 percent; and My Way, 2 percent.

Durney also discussed Project Apollo, a new marketing research service formed by Arbitron Inc. and ACNielsen. The companies plan to deploy a pilot panel of more than 6,000 households by the end of the year that would collect multimedia and purchase information from a common sample of consumers.

The pilot panel will consist of 14,500 participants in 6,250 households. These individuals will receive incentives to carry Arbitron's Portable People Meter, a small, cell phone-sized device that collects the volunteers' exposure to electronic media sources: broadcast television networks, cable networks and network radio as well as audio-based commercials broadcast on these outlets and on additional media. Consumer exposure to other media such as newspapers, magazines and circulars will be collected through additional survey instruments.

Data on consumer preference and purchases for a range of services and products will be collected as well. The data will be in aggregate form to provide a holistic understanding of participants' media interactions and their resulting shopping and purchase behavior.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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