And away we go …
In the most recent installment of their ongoing small business research, Wells Fargo and Gallup found (no surprises here) that small businesses preferred free word-of-mouth referrals and rated them more effective than paid advertising. (This is effectively what many of the "social networking" sites seek to offer.) Simultaneously, however, the survey also found that 57% of respondents expected to be advertising online over the next two years (up from 49% now). The survey found that of the 55% of SMEs that advertised in 2005, 67% of that group did so in a newspaper or local magazine. One of the problems here is that the release doesn’t define "small business." I suspect that the definition extends to well beyond 99 employees. TKG research does not reflect that 49% of SMEs are spending money online. Instead it is closer to 15%, but we define "small business" as fewer than 100 employees.
According to this piece in MediaPost (reg. req’d) research firm Outsell found that online shoppers turn primarily to search engines and portals as a starting point in their research. Here’s the data:
- 58% Google, Yahoo!, MSN or AOL
- 44% "online shopping sites"
- 29% magazines
- 23% word of mouth
- 22% print newspapers
- 14% TV (this is mysterious)
- 8% online newspapers (generally bad user experience here)
- 4% radio (again mysterious)
Directories were strangely absent. And without seeing the report or primary data it’s hard to be clear on the significance of these findings except for the powerful influence of the major search/portal brands on shopping behavior. What people need to start getting at more clearly now is the relationship of these sources to one another in the entire "purchase cycle."
MTV parent Viacom plans to enter the "social networking" world in order to compete with News Corp.’s MySpace (per this Reuters article). The article quotes Viacom executives implying they’ll make an acquisition this year. While social networking has been a stand-alone segment it’s ultimately just a layer in a broader application. Perhaps there’s hope for a Friendster acquisition yet.
Per John Battelle’s blog, the Washington Post has teamed with Yahoo! (the N.Y. Times did the same thing with LookSmart’s Furl) to offer del.icio.us’s tagging and community features to users as a way to save, organize and share content. Here’s the release. Definitely a nice feature to add, but it’s not quite as broad as the TimesSelect’s tool, which allows articles from across the Web (not just the site) to be saved.
Om Malik posts about how the mobile industry doesn’t understand consumers and what they want from phones, citing research data.
More marketers are getting a clue and trying to launch integrated campaigns that use traditional media for branding and send people online for more information or to further the branding experience. Examples include a new TV campaign by Cars.com (reported in MediaPost) and new MasterCard and American Express campaigns to debut during the Oscars.
Also per Battelle … he points to a CNET story about Google’s analyst day. Of interest to me is the statement: "Google Local is now the No. 3 site for classifieds." I wasn’t there so I don’t know the conext for that statement. I am unaware, however, of many people doing classified lookups (Jobs, Cars, Real Estate, Private Party merchandise) on Google Local. One could argue that Google Local should expand into classified listings and arguably has some listings that might be considered "classifieds" in a broad definition of the term. But I’m quite confused by the statement. Here is the October 2005 comScore traffic data on top classifieds sites:
- Trader Publishing Company
- Abracat Property
Finally, here’s a Reuters story on ad execs’ frustrations with growing media fragmentation and the complexity of now reaching audiences. That’s the essential theme of this year’s Drilling Down on Local event: Consumers have more devices, choices and control than ever, how do marketers and businesses respond?
Whew! Have a good weekend.