Holiday Shoppers Say Some Retailers are Out of Line.

Posted by truecreek on November 24, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

From Consumer Reports:

Bell ringers, perfume sprayers and the steady drumbeat of holiday music may be annoying to some shoppers. But what really brings out their grinchier instincts are stores that fail to open all the checkout lanes and then use pushy retail tactics when shoppers finally make it to the cash register.

Customers don’t like being pressured to open store credit cards or being asked for personal information. And they really object to being hounded to buy extended warranties, according to a nationally representative survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

The survey was conducted as part of Consumer Reports’ annual “Dear Shopper” campaign that highlights holiday gotchas and shopping traps. This year Consumer Reports had an assist from its sister Web site, Consumerist, which collected a list of annoyances from its readers.

Back Off

When the list was taken to the public at large, those surveyed were in agreement. Here are the top gripes about retail practices:

* 72% Stores that don’t open all the checkout lanes;

* 68% Fake “sales”. If something is always 20% off, it’s not on sale;

* 67% Coupons that exclude almost everything in the store;

* 62% Being hounded with the extended warranty sales pitch;

* 58% Cashiers that ask for your phone number or other personal information;

* 56% In-store prices that do not match the same company’s on-line prices;

“Consumers have told us that they just want a hassle-free and convenient shopping experience,” said Jim Guest, president and CEO of Consumers Union. “We really hope this list of holiday annoyances is a wake-up call for the retail industry.”

When we asked shoppers about the number one non-retail practice that made them grumpy almost a third said the crowds (29%) followed by difficulty parking (28%), sales people spraying perfume (16%) and bell ringers outside stores (13%). Surprisingly, few folks are annoyed by that holiday music—only three percent said that was their top pet peeve. Fa-la-la-la-la indeed.

More here.

Americans Are Not as Isolated As Had Been Previously Reported. A Pew Study.

Posted by truecreek on November 13, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Keith Hampton, Lauren Sessions, Eun Ja Her, Lee Rainie

This report adds new insights to an ongoing debate about the extent of social isolation in America. A widely-reported 2006 study argued that since 1985 Americans have become more socially isolated, the size of their discussion networks has declined, and the diversity of those people with whom they discuss important matters has decreased.

iStock_000003906452SmallblueIn particular, the study found that Americans have fewer close ties to those from their neighborhoods and from voluntary associations. Sociologists Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin and Matthew Brashears suggest that new technologies, such as the Internet and mobile phone, may play a role in advancing this trend.

Specifically, they argue that the type of social ties supported by these technologies are relatively weak and geographically dispersed, not the strong, often locally-based ties that tend to be a part of peoples’ core discussion network.

They depicted the rise of Internet and mobile phones as one of the major trends that pulls people away from traditional social settings, neighborhoods, voluntary associations, and public spaces that have been associated with large and diverse core networks.

The survey results reported here were undertaken to explore issues that have not been probed directly in that study and other related research on social isolation: the role of the Internet and mobile phone in people’s core social networks.

This Pew Internet Personal Networks and Community survey finds that Americans are not as isolated as has been previously reported. People’s use of the mobile phone and the Internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks. And, when we examine people’s full personal network – their strong and weak ties – Internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with more diverse social networks.

More here.

Twitter and Status Updating, Fall 2009. A Pew Study.

Posted by truecreek on November 12, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

Some 19% of Internet users now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves, or to see updates about others. This represents a significant increase over previous surveys in December 2008 and April 2009, when 11% of Internet users said they use a status-update service.

Twitter and Status Updating

Three groups of Internet users are mainly responsible for driving the growth of this activity: social network website users, those who connect to the Internet via mobile devices, and younger Internet users – those under age 44.

In addition, the more devices someone owns, the more likely they are to use Twitter or another service to update their status. Fully 39% of Internet users with four or more Internet-connected devices (such as a laptop, cell phone, game console, or Kindle) use Twitter, compared to 28% of Internet users with three devices, 19% of Internet users with two devices, and 10% of Internet users with one device.

The median age of a Twitter user is 31, which has remained stable over the past year. The median age for MySpace is now 26, down from 27 in May 2008, and the median age for LinkedIn is now 39, down from 40. Facebook, however, is graying a bit: the median age for this social network site is now 33, up from 26 in May 2008.

It will probably become more difficult to track status updating as an independent activity as social network updates feed into Twitter and vice versa. For now, it is clear that a “social segment” of Internet users is flocking to both social network sites and status update services. This segment is likely to grow as ever more Internet users adopt mobile devices as a primary means of going online.

More here.

Use of Cloud Computing Applications and Services. A Pew Study.

Posted by truecreek on November 5, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By John Horrigan.

Some 69% of online Americans use webmail services, store data online, or use software programs such as word processing applications whose functionality is located on the web. Online users who take advantage of cloud applications say they like the convenience of having access to data and applications from any Web-connected device.

However, their message to providers of such services is: Let’s keep the data between us.

Download the report here.

Home Broadband Adoption 2009. A Pew Study.

Posted by truecreek on under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

Only 37% left to go.  Give or take a few percentage points.

An April 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows 63% of adult Americans now have broadband internet connections at home, a 15% increases from a year earlier.

April’s level of high-speed adoption represents a significant jump from figures gathered by the Project since the end of 2007 (54%). The growth in home broadband adoption occurred even though survey respondents reported paying more for broadband compared to May 2008. Last year, the average monthly bill for broadband internet service at home was $34.50, a figure that stands at $39.00 in April 2009.

Download the report here.

Nielsen: Broadcast Radio Still Has Reach.

Posted by truecreek on November 4, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Read the First Comment

Broadcast radio still has reach.  Now, that’s great to hear.

By Katy Bachman.

Contrary to popular belief, consumers are not trading broadcast radio for new media. Far from it. Of all audio segments, broadcast radio reaches more than 77 percent of users daily compared to 11.6 percent for MP3 players and iPods.

mikeIn total, more than 90 percent of adults were exposed to some form of audio media.

The findings, published Tuesday (Nov. 3) are based on a Nielsen analysis of data from the Council for Research Excellence Video Consumer Mapping Study. The $3.5 million landmark study conducted in 2008 used direct real-time observation methods to record the media behavior of participants in five major markets. Earlier this year, the CRE released results for video media.

Portable audio has its highest daily reach among the 18-34 demographic, but it takes up only 7.5 percent of all daily audio usage, compared to more than a 47 percent share for broadcast audio. In fact, broadcast radio has the highest daily reach among 18-34 year olds at 82.2 percent, compared to 81.6 percent for the 35-54 demo and 71.9 percent for 55 and older.

“There is a much more complex picture going on with audio than we ever really imagined,” said Dr. Michael Link, chief methodologist for Nielsen (parent company of Mediaweek).   “What this report shows is that 18-34s aren’t abandoning radio. Rather, they’re adding new audio technologies in addition to broadcast radio consumption.”

Broadcast radio was also widely used among users of other forms of audio media. More than 81 percent of those who used portable audio devices, also listened to broadcast radio.

The medium also stacked up well against other media in terms of average hourly reach. Live TV reached the most people, followed by radio, the Web/Internet and newspapers and magazines.

College Kids Are the Digital Demo.

Posted by truecreek on October 14, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By eMarketer.

College students are the most connected demographic group in the US. They own multiple electronic devices and are a prime audience for online video.

eMarketer estimates 18.2 million college students, 95.7% of the total, will go online at least once a month in 2009. As Internet usage becomes ubiquitous, the percentage of students online is growing more slowly, rising to an estimated 96.8% in 2013.

“Not only is Internet access widely prevalent, but so is technology ownership in general,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “College Students: Connecting with the Connected Crowd.” “Since students own multiple devices, they want to use those devices to interact with friends and information in multiple ways. They care less about what method they use for their interactions and more about how easy and seamless those interactions are.”

College Kids are the Digital Demo

Students are heavy consumers of online video—but also regular TV. They use social networking Websites to stay in touch with their friends—but rely on text messaging as well. And smartphones, which are becoming more and more common on campus, give students the ability to do many activities without touching a computer at all.

Despite the fears of some industry-watchers, college students are not abandoning social networks now that the sites have caught on among their elders.

“So far, that is not happening,” said Ms. Williamson. “In fact, the opposite is true. Students are more likely than ever to use social network sites.”

EDUCAUSE, which has tracked social network usage on campus for the past several years, found that the percentage of students visiting sites such as Facebook or MySpace on a daily basis has more than doubled in the past three years, from 32.9% in 2006 to 66.2% in 2009.

“But other indicators bear watching,” cautions Ms. Williamson. “One is how often students visit social networks and how much time they spend there.”

Still, in May 2009 Youth Trends found that Facebook was the No. 3 source among college students for learning about new products and services, after word-of-mouth and television commercials. Social networks remain a viable venue for marketing to the college crowd.

U.S. Consumers Show Permanent Changes Linked to the Economic Downturn.

Posted by truecreek on September 25, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them., Research | Be the First to Comment

In a follow up to one of my earlier posts, research conducted by Hart Research Associates for Citi has shown that consumers in the U.S. have made what they are calling “permanent spending and savings changes” as a result of the current recession.

According to a tidbit in today’s edition of the USA Today, 63% percent of the people contacted by Hart stated emphatically that the way they handle their personal finances has been changed forever and only 29% plan on going back to the old way of doing things.

If this research proves out to be prophetic, and I believe it will, all marketers will have to hope they can get a piece of what will be a much smaller pie.

Magazines Continue to Suffer.

Posted by truecreek on September 9, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Julia Boorstin

Buying a magazine at a newsstand is quite the impulse purchase. These days you can get most magazine content online, for free, or at least something pretty comparable. And if you really want to flip through those glossy pages every week, but you’re looking to save money, a subscription saves as much as 90 percent off newsstand prices.

Needless to say it’s no surprise that newsstand magazine sales dropped 12 percent in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2008; over the previous six month period that drop was 11 percent. While subscriptions did increase slightly, not enough to compensate for the decline at newsstands, and total circulation was down 1 percent for the period.

The decline in newsstand magazine purchases may be an indicator of consumer confidence – people are watching their discretionary spending – but I’d argue that newsstand magazine revenues are unlikely to recover when consumer spending does.

There are too many free, online options and people are getting increasingly accustomed to consuming content on their mobile devices and laptops. As content companies figure out how to distribute more content to your iPhone or cell phone people may not need to shell out $5 as frequently for their glossy fill of celebrity gossip and photos.

That’s not to say that the magazine business will go away. People will still buy magazines, they may just get used to this reduced magazine spending level we’re at now.

Of course magazines’ struggles with circulation come on top of the advertising decline that’s hit the entire print journalism business. Take a look at the magazines at the newsstand or in your mailbox this month. September is supposed to be a big month for ad sales, but you’ll notice that the magazines will be remarkably skinny. If they don’t fatten up by the end of the year we’re sure to see more magazines shut down. Last month Time Inc. stopped publishing “Southern Accents” magazine, jut the latest magazine closure in the home decor space where ad revenue has fallen more than 20 percent.

It’s not just the commercial magazine business that’s suffering, business-to-business magazine ad pages fell 30.15 percent in the first half of the year, compared to the year-earlier period, according to Business Information Network data. And the trends didn’t improve over that 6-month period. In June ad pages were down nearly 33 percent from the year-earlier month.

MTV Nets Touts Shorter Web Video Ads.

Posted by truecreek on July 16, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Mike Shields

MTV Networks believes it has found a better answer for short form online video advertising than the much-derided 30-second pre-roll: a very short video spot (five seconds long) accompanied by a corresponding, though slightly-delayed display ad.

The company on Wednesday (July 15) announced the results of an elaborate study on online video advertising called Project Inform—one that sought to find a better ad standard for the burgeoning medium which combined brand effectiveness with user-tolerance. The extensive project, conceived as far back as early 2008, was conducted in partnership with with the researcher InsightExpress and employed the services of the Web video technology firm Panache.

Starting with over 20 possibilities, by early 2009 year MTVN says it had boiled its list of potential video ad formats to three, including the classic pre-roll. The others included a unit called the Lower 1/3 Product Suite—which combines a five second pre-roll with a transparent flash ads that takes over a the bottom third of a users video screen only after ten seconds of content has streamed, and a newer unit dubbed The Sideloader Product Suite—which also utilizes a five-second spot and a delayed animated display ad appearing on the side of the video player.

Then, from January through April of this year MTVN began testing the three placements on its collection of sites, from to to, using 50 million streams worth of ad inventory for three different advertisers, including a studio, a packaged goods brand, and a grocery brand. The results indicated that while pre-rolls faired OK, the “Lower 1/3” scored best when it came to classic branding metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent.

That approach was crucial, according to Nada Stirratt, MTV Networks’ executive vp of Digital Advertising—who told Mediaweek that Project Inform was specifically designed to study the power of brand advertising—and not direct response advertising—in Web video. Yet it also had to yield actionable data. “The premise was to find out what do you need to activate a consumer response to a marketer’s message,” she said.

And MTV deliberately zeroed in on short form video and casual games—content types that continue to explode in user popularity but have often fallen short when it comes to monetization. “Everybody talks about long form,” Stirratt said. “That was our bias – ‘how do we make these [shorter] experiences work for advertisers?’ The goal was to find the perfect balance between an ad unit that is effective in moving the needle and an ad unit that is likeable.”

Why do people like the “Lower 1/3” unit?  It’s hard to say definitively, but Stirratt’s theorized that it has something to do with the lag between the short five second pre-roll and the display unit, which comes 10-seconds later, when “you already have a favorable impression of a brand, and people are really engrossed in content. And they are still able to interact if they want.”

MTVN’s goal with Project Inform in some ways mirrors the research work being done by Publicis VivaKi and a host of prominent partners on The Pool —which is also aimed at establishing a better industry standard for Web video. But MTVN has declined to participate in The Pool, instead pushing forward in search of its own answer, one that Stirratt believes is desperately needed.

“Obviously we need agencies and clients on board [creating original online video ads],” she said. “The win for the industry is when people start creating things for this medium instead of for other media.”

35 Percent of Adults Have a Profile On Social Networking Sites.

Posted by truecreek on June 29, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Amanda Lenhart

The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s December 2008 tracking survey.

While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of online teens who also use online social networks.

Still, younger online adults are much more likely than their older counterparts to use social networks, with 75% of adults 18-24 using these networks, compared to just 7% of adults 65 and older. At its core, use of online social networks is still a phenomenon of the young.

Overall, personal use of social networks seems to be more prevalent than professional use of networks, both in the orientation of the networks that adults choose to use as well as the reasons they give for using the applications. Most adults, like teens, are using online social networks to connect with people they already know.

When users do use social networks for professional and personal reasons, they will often maintain multiple profiles, generally on different sites.

Most, but not all adult social network users are privacy conscious; 60% of adult social network users restrict access to their profiles so that only their friends can see it, and 58% of adult social network users restrict access to certain content within their profile.

An Improved Outlook and its Effect on the Mood of Your Customer.

Posted by truecreek on June 23, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them., Research | Be the First to Comment

Well, studies are starting to show that people are beginning to feel better about things and that’s a good thing for all kinds of businesses.

Just go to the mall and look at all the shopping bags people are lugging around.  Traffic at car dealerships is up.  My local Panera is busier than ever.

Are your customers starting to see the good side of life again?

The Not-So-Young Networkers.

Posted by truecreek on May 29, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

Another article by Mark Dolliver.  Essentially the same thing happened during the adoption of the internet.  It took a while, but eventually the greatest amount of growth in use was coming from the older population.  In some cases, much older.

Most growth at social networking sites comes from users 30 and older.

By Mark Dolliver

NEW YORK Though social networking still skews young, the practice has been gaining ground among Americans who are on the wrong side of age 30.

Indeed, while noting that use of such Internet sites remains most common among the young, a report on the subject by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press says that “nearly all of the recent growth in social networking has come among older people.”

The report, analyzing survey data gathered at the end of March and through much of April, shows 43 percent of 30-39-year-olds saying they use social-networking sites — about twice the proportion (21 percent) who said so in a December 2007 survey. The increase has been proportionally even steeper among 40-49-year-olds (from 11 percent then to 29 percent now) and 50-64-year-olds (from 6 percent to 16 percent). The current figure is highest, at 70 percent, among the 18-29-year-olds. But that’s nearly unchanged from the December 2007 poll, when 67 percent of respondents in that age bracket said they use such sites.

If you think the older folks join a social site and then seldom revisit it, think again. When people who use the sites were asked how often they check in on them, the 18-29-year-olds had the highest proportion (at 23 percent) saying they do so several times a day. But the number of respondents saying they do this was quite sizable among the 30-49s (15 percent), the 40-49s (16 percent) and those 50-plus (14 percent). When you combine the several-times-a-day tallies with those saying they check in on the sites “about once a day,” the gap between the 18-29s (48 percent fall into those two categories) and the 30-39s (41 percent) isn’t terribly wide. (The equivalent figure for social networking’s 40-49s is 36 percent, and it’s 34 percent for those 50 and older.)

The same survey inquired into respondents’ attitudes about the wisdom of sharing personal information online. The poll’s wired respondents split almost evenly between the 43 percent saying it’s “a good thing” and the 44 percent saying it’s “a bad thing” that the Internet “makes it possible for people to share pictures and personal things about themselves with others.”

Men were significantly more likely than women to say it’s a good thing (49 percent vs. 37 percent). And, as you’d expect, younger respondents were more apt than their elders to hold that opinion. The “good thing” vote was 62 percent among the 18-29s, 48 percent among the 30-49s, 35 percent among the 50-64s and 19 percent among those 65-plus.

Though 67 percent of the poll’s social-networking-site users came down on the “good thing” side of the debate, 23 percent said they regard such info-sharing as a bad thing.

Study: Video Viewing Hasn’t Usurped TV Watching.

Posted by truecreek on March 27, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

Well, it’s in.  TV watching is still KING, by a long shot.

Plasma TVBy Gary Levin, USA TODAY

Despite the quick spread of video to computers, cellphones and iPods, their use is more hype than reality, and TV watching hasn’t suffered.

Those are among the findings of a new $3.5 million study out today from the Council for Research Excellence, a group of top media researchers, funded by Nielsen. The study confirms similar findings in earlier reports but uses a more statistically reliable method of observation in which researchers followed 476 people for two 14-hour days and recorded all of their media usage and daily activities.

“If you ask people how much time they spent online yesterday, they’re going to give you a wrong answer; they don’t remember,” says Steve Sternberg, chief analyst at Magna Global, a major ad firm, and a member of the Council. “The idea of doing a study where you actually observe the user and keep track of all the media they’re using is compelling.”

The research, conducted in five cities last year by a team from Ball State University, showed adults ages 45 to 54 were the heaviest users of all electronic media, spending an average of 9.5 hours a day. All other adults spent about 8.5 hours on a combination of TV, computers, mobile devices and other screens.

That same crowd of Baby Boomers also spent more time on e-mail, instant messaging and DVR playback than other age groups.

But while 43% of TV viewers in the study watched some form of online video, they spent only a few minutes a day doing so.

Adults 65 and older spent seven hours a day watching live TV, by far the highest amount for any age group, though they were far less likely to use computers or cellphones. That TV usage is double the time spent by the youngest adults, ages 18 to 24, who conversely were the heaviest users of online video, cellphones, console video games and computer software.

Yet even that younger crowd spent just 5.5 minutes a day watching computer video.

Michael Bloxham, a Ball State researcher, says that since the study was conducted last spring and fall, “you might slowly be seeing growth in online video,” especially after sites such as Hulu began aggressive promotional campaigns. BlackBerrys, iPhones, DVRs and social-networking sites also have increased in popularity.

Those under 55 spent 27% of their time with media multitasking, researchers found, though TV was more frequently viewed by itself than computers. Adults were exposed to about 72 minutes of advertising a day across all media.

Study Probes Online Power of Hispanic Consumers.

Posted by truecreek on March 20, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Read the First Comment

COM2-spreads.2.inddBy Mark Dolliver.

NEW YORK Not so long ago, a report on Hispanic Americans’ Internet usage would likely have been focusing on a “digital divide,” with Hispanic and other minorities lagging far behind the general population in online access and activity. The title of a Scarborough Research report released today, “The Power of the Hispanic Consumer Online,” gives a quick hint at how times have changed. The report finds Hispanic Internet users to be “avid downloaders of digital content,” thanks in part to a broadband adoption rate mirroring that of the nation’s overall online population.

Scarborough says 54 percent of Hispanic adults are online, vs. 69 percent of total U.S. adults. (If anything, the gap is likely to be narrower now, as the national data for the report were gathered between February 2007 and March 2008.) Among Hispanics who are online, 68 percent have a broadband connection in their household, as do 71 percent of U.S. Internet users in general.

In Scarborough’s polling, 42 percent of Hispanic Internet users (vs. 35 percent of Internet users in general) reported downloading some sort of digital content in the 30 days before being questioned. And what have they been downloading? As with the total online population, Hispanic Internet users are most likely to be latching onto music. Thirty-two percent of wired Hispanics reported having done so in the previous 30 days, vs. 24 percent of Internet users in general. Seventeen percent of online Hispanics (and 14 percent of all wired respondents) reported downloading something in the catchall “other video” category within that period.

Fewer Hispanic respondents said they’d downloaded audio clips (11 percent), movies (9 percent), TV programs (8 percent), video games (6 percent) or podcasts (3 percent) within that 30-day period. Aside from podcasts, the incidence of downloading in each category was slightly lower among Internet users in general than it was for the study’s Hispanic respondents. Scarborough (a joint venture between Arbitron and AdweekMedia parent The Nielsen Co.) notes that younger Hispanic adults were, as you’d expect, more likely than their elders to have downloaded digital content in the previous 30 days, with 51 percent of the 18-34-year-olds saying they’d done so.

Another section of the report notes that mobile devices are “an important point of Internet entry” for Hispanic adults. Among Hispanic cell-phone subscribers, 55 percent use it for text messaging, 28 percent for picture messaging, 22 percent for instant messaging, 15 percent for downloading video games, 15 percent for e-mail and 11 percent for “other” Internet usage. Here again, the polling finds Hispanic respondents more likely than cell-phone users in general to use the device in these ways.

When it comes to buying online, Scarborough found Hispanic Internet users lagging behind the total online population — but not by much. Sixty-two percent of online Hispanic adults reported having made at least one online purchase in the previous 12 months, vs. 70 percent of Internet users in general. Among those who did make such purchases, the average spent in the previous 12 months was $762 for Hispanic respondents and $861 for Internet users generally.

The report also took a look at some metro areas that have disproportionate numbers of Hispanic adults. Among the findings about these markets: The incidence of broadband access among online Hispanics was particularly high in Miami (76 percent), San Francisco (75 percent) and New York (72 percent). The incidence of past-30-day downloading among Hispanic Internet users was highest in Phoenix (60 percent). The average amount of online spending, among Hispanics who’d made any online purchase in the prior 12 months, was highest in New York (at $883), San Francisco ($879) and Phoenix ($831).