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As Social Networking Rises, TV Watching Decreases

A new study from Marketing Evolution (commissioned by MySpace, Isobar & Carat) suggests social networking users between 14 and 40 years old are increasing their internet, email and instant messaging usage, while decreasing the amount of time they spend watching TV and playing video games.

Ok, which genius thought it would be a good idea to measure the habits of teenagers, and those approaching their mid-life crisis, in the same data set? How many 40 year olds do you know that play video games? (go ahead “out” them in the comments section). ;-)

Consumer Generated Content Offers Better ROI for Marketers

Ad network BlueLithium studied 1.7 billion impressions, from 716 ads, across more than 100 sites, and determined that user-generated content (UGC) generally offered a lower cost per conversion than traditional media.

When comparing ads shown on non-UGC sites (sites with a more structured editorial process) to those sites with UGC, the ads on the non-UGC sites had a 32% higher conversion rate. However, due to the lower advertising costs associated with many UGC sites, the cost-per-conversion on non-UGC sites was 58% higher than the consumer generated alternatives. According to CMO, Dakota Sullivan, the cost savings “more than balanced out” the lower conversion rates of ads running on UGC sites.

BlueLithium also explored UGC against non-UGC sites from the comScore Top 250.

Marketers Learn the Value of Social Networks

Fox Interactive Media – and about half a dozen other companies – conducted a study to determine the value of social media for marketers. Sampling 3,000 US internet users, they discovered…

  • More than 70% of Americans 15-34 are actively using social networks online, and the research showed social networking sites taking a strong foothold in the primetime hours.
  • 31% of online social networkers claim they spend more time on the Web in general after starting to use a social network.
  • Brands such as adidas and Electronic Arts attributed more than 70% of their marketing return on investment to the “Momentum Effect.”

That “Momentum Effect” is a cute term coined by the study to define “the impact of a brand within a social network beyond traditional advertising impressions to encompass the “pass along” power of consumer-to-consumer communication.” In other words, viral marketing, tipping point, word of mouth, etc.

SEO Doesn’t Guarantee Blog Visitor Loyalty

Mixed blessings for SEM come from a Boston University study entitled Traffic Characteristics and Communication Patterns in the Blogosphere.

First, the good news: the majority of blog traffic comes from search engines. Search engines accounted for 43% of referral traffic in the blogosphere. Hurray for search engine marketers! Their diagram of referral traffic (below) does not include the 28% of blogosphere traffic without any referral data (probably bookmark or type-in traffic).

referral traffic to the blogosphere

Now for the bad news: “Despite the intimacy between traffic and search, however, optimizing a blog for search engine algorithms does not win the blogs retention or popularity,” as MarketingVOX put it. Yep, all the rankings in the world don’t make your blog well read, popular or sticky. You have to do that.

The Internet Influences Chinese Shoppers?

Despite the Internet’s ever-increasing sphere of influence, the BIGresearch 1st Quarter 2007 China Quarterly Survey finds that the Internet isn’t as influential in Chinese shopping as US. The survey focuses on the 18-34 year old demographic, which consists of 380 million (including 191 million men),

MediaPost states that the key findings of the study include:

  • European brands continue to be preferred above U.S. brands in key categories such as Clothing, Cosmetics, Furniture and Jewelry
  • Consumer confidence remains very high
  • Planned expenditures on electronics are much higher in China than in the U.S.
  • Chinese men and women say surfing the net is #1 leisure activity
  • Word of mouth is even more influential to Chinese consumers than U.S. [consumers] for Electronics, Clothing, Autos and Pharmaceuticals

Social Networks’ Real Influence

Last month, JupiterResearch reported that 48% of Internet marketers would venture into social media marketing this year. This month they were involved in the research behind iProspect‘s Social Networking User Behavior Study (press release). The result? Some pretty good stuff.

  • 1 in 3 Internet users state that social networks have influenced their purchase decisions.
  • 1 in 4 Internet users visit the most popular social networking sites at least once a month.
  • About 20% of visitors to social networking sites don’t search once they’ve reached the site.
  • Search engines still reach a broader audience than social networking sites, thus SEM is still a very important aspect of Internet marketing. (Of course iProspect found that!)
  • The social networking sites featured in the study included:
    • MySpace
    • Facebook

Animated GIFs Help Email Campaigns?

Every couple of days in this industry, you come across a headline and think, “What? No way. How could that be?” Sometimes it’s linkbait, sometimes it’s tongue-in-cheek—but this time it’s for real. Animated GIFs help email marketing campaigns.

I know, I know, it’s so 1999 (and that’s being generous). But the ever-venerable MarketingSherpa has the data (beautiful data!) to back it up.

Why in the world could this be working? There are a few key clues in the article (open access until April 18):

  • They (Lake Champlain Chocolates) tested the campaign to make sure that the GIF displayed properly in a variety of mail clients.
  • They made the file small enough for reasonably fast downloads over high speed (and recognized that their minority of dial up customers wouldn’t be able to see the file).