A study conducted by the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab along with Consumer WebWatch, found that "look and feel" is more important then content. For example, nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.
People in this study used advertising on a site as a criterion for judging the site's credibility. In 13.8% of the comments, people talked about advertising, usually negatively. But at times, study participants talked about the judicious use of advertising in a positive way. Pop-up ads were widely disliked and seemed always to reduce perceptions of site credibility.
The study surmises:
Not surprisingly, advertisements are especially harmful to a site's credibility if they lead a user to believe that the site's content is swayed or controlled by the advertisement or that the site is connected to the advertisement, and is itself trying to sell the user something. The latter is a case of not providing a clear line between advertising and the site itself, which has been shown to harm credibility in previous studies (Fogg et al., 2001; Fogg et al., 2002; Princeton, 2002), and is intimately related to a site's connection with its sponsors. The comments make clear that some users are fully aware of potential sponsor influence. They expect a clear line between the content and advertisements so that sponsors do not compromise the site's information.
Something to be aware of as we explore online advertising methodologies that blur the line between advertising and editorial.
Playboy's Maxim: Think Young, Man
The Playboy bunny, somewhat long in the tooth of late, will begin next year to resemble the Energizer battery bunny as it makes a bid for millions of young men now reading Maxim, Stuff and other "laddie" magazines.
"These are young men who weren't buying magazines before," said Christie Hefner, chief executive of Playboy, "and as they grow up and out of Maxim we will be there."
Do guys ever really grow "up and out"? If you ask me, I hope I never stop growing "up and out"! (oh, that was so bad)
My favorite show kicks ass!
'Sopranos' Finale Draws 12.5 Million Viewers
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - The 75-minute Sunday night fourth-season finale of "The Sopranos" on HBO drew 12.5 million viewers -- more than any other show in its time period on any outlet.
The episode was the second most watched program in HBO history, after the "Sopranos"' season premiere, which 13.4 million viewers watched. HBO also boasted a victory among adults 18-49, 7.5 million of whom tuned in.
Advergames Popular with Blue Chips, Branding Capabilities Disputed
Advergaming options range from developing customized, branded game experiences featuring product-focused content to running ads during or in-between game playing sessions to less costly, more generic games that can be sponsored by any advertiser. These may be engaging to a wide array of online users who have been known to spend hours immersing themselves in sponsored game worlds, but the question is �what�s the value to the brand?� At this point, assesses Jupiter Research analyst, Jay Horwitz, �It�s very difficult to measure impact.�
Advertisers are seeing a tangible return on investment in the form of data captured through online game registrations, though. Information such as email addresses, age, sex, income level and locale can all be gathered in exchange for a free round of roulette or extreme snowboarding (usually accompanied by a chance to win prizes).
Lynne Viera, creative director at marketing agency, BaseSix, finds that advertisers she�s worked with, including HBO, have �a lot of interest in any opportunity to go outside the box and capture data.� Besides the fact that users get free game time and out of it, the opportunity to get friends involved through viral components of advergames is also a plus for consumers. �When asking people for information, you have to be careful you�re giving something in return,� cautions Viera.
Whether or not this approach will work and how it's success will be measured are yet to become mainstream. However, it is refreshing that marketers are challenging themselves to discover new online marketing territory.
Parsons: AOL Won't Be Spun Off
A week after AOL Time Warner told analysts that its Internet unit would have a tough 2003, Chairman/CEO Richard D. Parsons said AOL is poised to grow in 2004 and won�t be spun off.
The year end Google Zeitgeist is Google's way of measuring trends by analyzing the types of searches made. It's actually pretty cool to see what was up and down over the course of the year. Google is doing some interesting things and this is one of them.
Kmart Signs Thalia For Cultural Connection
In an effort to strengthen its bond with Hispanic consumers, Kmart has signed a long-term, exclusive agreement with Latin entertainer Thalia. Under terms of the deal, Thalia will help design a collection of branded apparel, accessories, footwear and lingerie, which are scheduled to appear in stores beginning next summer.
It is expected that Thalia will also appear in marketing efforts to promote The Thalia Collection. The international star was featured on the cover of the October issue of "La Vida," Kmart's entertainment and lifestyle supplement that wraps around its the Spanish circular. Financial terms were not revealed. Cultura, Dallas, is Kmart's new AOR for efforts targeting the Hispanic community.
Hopefully this will be more interesting then Britney and her failed restaurant deal.
WSJ Bashes Free Business Sites in New Campaign
The campaign, whose budget was not disclosed, debuted this week on television stations like ESPN, Fox News and CNBC. Print versions of the ads appear in the print Journal in an effort to convince print subscribers to add online access. These half-page house ads show a stack of "Biz-o-Rama" newspapers above text like: "You wouldn't read this instead of The Wall Street Journal. So why do it online?"
A nice microsite accompanies this campaign as well.
Is Spam Such a Threat at Work?
Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 65% of at-work e-mail users say the volume of e-mail messages that comes to their work accounts is not a problem, while just 4% say they are overwhelmed by the amount of e-mail that comes to work.
Pew Internet Project: Email at Work
CNET: Spam doesn't kill appetite for e-mail