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DoubleClick: Web Sites' Reach Matches TV, Nears Mags

The Internet's most popular sites consistently deliver larger audiences than television's most-watched programs and are comparable in reach to popular consumer magazines, according to a study released yesterday by DoubleClick Inc.

The top three Web sites — Yahoo Search, MSN Hotmail and MSN Search — deliver audiences 43 percent larger than the top three prime-time television programs, “Friends,” “ER” and “Will & Grace,” DoubleClick's study found. The sites also attracted audiences that on average were just 5 percent less than the top consumer magazines: People, Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens, the study determined.

However, People Magazine, with 26.6 million readers, remains No. 1 when it comes to mass-audience delivery, the study concluded.

The announcement comes as those with a vested interest in online marketing are trying harder than ever to persuade marketers to shift more of their budgets online.

“Earlier this year we talked to over 200 marketers who told us their top reason for not spending more online was that their customer was not online,” Susan Sachatello, chief marketing officer, DoubleClick, New York, said in a statement. “This study demonstrates that both in aggregate and in key target groups, the Internet is in fact a mainstream mass market medium and that marketers should be going online to reach their customers.”

It is estimated that online advertising on average accounts for 3 percent of ad spending overall. Also, packaged goods firms usually spend less than 1 percent of their budgets on online advertising.

As a result of this and the tough ad market overall, some initiatives have been undertaken recently aimed at boosting the Internet's role in the marketing mix.

For example, the Online Publishers Association held a New York luncheon in June during which Sarah Chubb, president of CondeNet; Geoff Ramsey, president of New York research aggregator eMarketer; Merrill Brown, then senior vice president and editor-in-chief of MSNBC.com; and Chris Schroeder, CEO/publisher at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, made presentations to attending press and ad buyers in an effort to present an image of online-ad-industry vitality.

Also last month, CBS MarketWatch, CNET Networks, NYTimes.com, USAToday.com and weather.com debuted an ad-selling consortium dubbed the At-Work Brand Network to make ad buying on those sites easier and more efficient.

Meanwhile, not surprisingly, DoubleClick's study found that the Internet is effective for reaching males ages 18 to 49 and high-income adults ages 25 to 54. Also according to the study, magazines far outdeliver the Internet and television in reaching 18- to 49-year-old women and African-Americans.

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