MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Social media offers best online ad return

BY Dan Berthiaume

Sterling, Va. – Social media demonstrated the best cost-efficiency of all major online advertising channels in second quarter 2014, coming in at 70% below the industry average for cost and showing a 32% cost decrease quarter over quarter. According to the Q2 2014 Media Intelligence Report from Neustar Inc., social’s reach-efficiency was 286% better than the next channel, portals, and its ability to reach exclusive users (not seen in other channels) improved by 65% quarter over quarter.

Neustar analysis indicates the decrease in the cost of social stems in part from the growing use of efficient demand-side platforms to purchase social impressions.

In addition, the study indicates video is becoming a more common buy, no longer tied exclusively to specialized video networks. Driven by events like the FIFA World Cup, advertisers in the second quarter looked to major networks serving soccer-related content and bought more video impressions there. Networks continued to have solid upper funnel influence, providing strong awareness and leaving longer-lasting effects on users who are later re-messaged to.

While network costs rose 28% from the prior quarter, new and better video targeting and measurement tools give marketers the power to promote brand awareness, even as its costs increase

“By measuring customer and media activity in real-time, marketers can uncover incredibly valuable campaign insights, some of which may be surprising,” said Rob Gatto, senior VP, Neustar Media. “While many marketers still place emphasis on clicks for conversions, depending on their target audience they may find much greater growth opportunity in view-based conversions.”

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FINANCE

Survey: Prepaid card users leading mobile payment users

BY Dan Berthiaume

Rockville, Md. – American prepaid card users are the leading users of mobile payments. According to Prepaid and Gift Cards in the U.S., 4th Edition, a recent report by market research publisher Packaged Facts, smartphone penetration is actually higher among groups underrepresented by traditional banking products and services.

Roughly 89% of consumers from underbanked households have a smartphone; and even two-thirds (64%) of consumers from unbanked households have one. In addition, younger adults (age 18-34) do more card shopping and have a wider variety of cards in their wallet. Based on survey results, Packaged Facts estimates that prepaid cardholders age 18-34 have an average of 2.3 prepaid cards in their wallets.

In addition, while direct deposit clearly influences cardholder retention, it is not enough to keep these cardholders engaged. Survey results indicate that mobile-forward platforms with Millennial-era options such as P2P and bill payment will invariably entice 18-34s to linger longer.

"Thanks to the evolution of online and mobile technology, it’s apparent that card loyalty is not garnered from the card itself, but from the features that increasingly surround it, meaning the widening ecosystem through which the cardholder can engage easily with financial services products, services and educational tools," said Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

College students cost-conscious, selectively spend

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boston – Nearly 80% of college students describe themselves as “more cost-conscious this year than a year ago.” However, according to a recent back-to-school survey of 1,420 U.S. college students by college marketing agency Fluent, students said they are willing to make an exception to the low-spending rule and anticipate spending “more than they should” in select categories, specifically clothing, technology and dorm room accessories.

Following are key highlights from the survey:

• According to the Fluent survey respondents, the five top items on students’ spending list this year are grounded in the basics (ordered according to ranking): 1) Text books; 2) Transportation: car/bike expenses; 3) Clothing; 4) General school supplies; 5) Computer software.

• When it comes to products they are likely to “spend more than they should,” dorm room decorating scored surprisingly high, shooting up 27 points, again indicating that discretionary spending might be on the rise. The top three categories selected by students were (ordered according to ranking): 1) Clothing – by a wide margin, nearly 70% of students selected this category; 2) Technology (including computers, software and mobile) at 53%; and 3) Dorm Decorating at 30%.

• August remains many college student’s biggest back-to-school shopping month (37%), but nearly an equal number (38%) said they have no fixed start or end date to their shopping; instead, they indicate stocking up throughout the year for what’s needed.

• The top purchasing influences rated as “very important” were: 1) Friends’ recommendations, either one-to-one or via social media (a full 93% of respondents selected this category); 2) Coupons, both online and mobile; and 3) product review sites/blogs, which replaced last year’s third-place influence: in-store test-drives.

• The three purchasing influences rated least important by college students remained virtually the same as in 2013: 1) Online product demos; 2) Pinterest and other visual sharing social channels; and 3) Magazine articles and other editorial pieces.

“The recession has made a strong impression on this generation, so there is an overall cautiousness when it comes to spending,” said Michael Carey, executive VP of Fluent. “They want to make economically smart choices, but at the same time, there are certain items that play heavily into their social capital, such as the right clothing and technology. Consequently, we are seeing a slightly more open attitude to discretionary spending in those categories.”

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