JULY 07, 2014

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Are Search Ads Effective? Study Suggests Ad Type Not As Useful for Well-Known Brands

Researchers at eBay wanted to measure the effectiveness of search ads at driving site visitation and sales on their site. What their analysis uncovered is that eBay may have misspent millions of dollars on search ads that included the brand's own name. Researchers came to this conclusion after pulling brand search ads that included the word eBay (for instance eBay + guitars). With the paid search results gone, 99.5% of users in the control group still clicked on an organic link for eBay. In other words, the incremental dollars and audience gained by way of paid ads for those terms turned out to be minimal.

So what?

eBay's analysis found they they were paying Google for clicks that they would have likely received organically. However, it is important to remember that the exercise analyzed for searches with the word eBay. If eBay paid for search terms for simply 'guitars,' it would have ensured itself a spot on the first page of results. The lesson here is that for well-established brands it might not be necessary to pay for search terms that include your brand's name in it. Companies might find that some of those search dollars ($17 billion category in 2012) might be better allocated in other ad formats. 

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Social Media
The Posts You See in Your Facebook Feed Can Affect Your Emotions

Facebook users who see positive posts in their news feed are more likely to post positive updates of their own, while seeing negative posts increases their likelihood of posting negative updates, according to a new controversial study. Data scientists from Facebook, along with researchers from UCSF and Cornell, manipulated the news feed of 689,003 Facebook users to test the concept of “emotional contagion” – people transferring positive and negative emotions to others. For a week, a group of Facebook users saw fewer positive posts than usual, leading to a decrease in positive words in their own posts. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. Additionally, when people were exposed to fewer emotional posts (either positive or negative), they were less expressive overall on the following days. These researchers concluded that the emotions expressed by friends via social networks influence our own moods and emotions, as well as our level of social engagement.

So what?

The study was met with strong criticism due to the ethical issues surrounding the emotional manipulation of participants who never explicitly agreed to take part in the experiment. However, the controversy does not render its findings unimportant. One of the takeaways from the study is that to encourage positive sentiment and engagement, brands should posts updates that include words with positive connotations.

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Consumers Willing to Pay More for Products Created by Socially Responsible Brands

In these post-recession days, consumers all over the world are increasingly interested in buying from brands that exhibit social and environmental responsibility. According to Nielsen’s recent corporate social responsibility report, 55% of global consumers agree that they would be willing to pay extra for products or services from companies that contribute to social or environmental causes. Continuing a positive trend, willingness to pay more for socially conscious products has grown every year since 2011, when 45% of global consumers agreed with the sentiment. Seemingly true to their word, more than half (52%) of consumers report purchasing at least one product or service from a company that cares about social issues in the past six months. Millennials (aged 21-34) were the generation most willing to pay extra for sustainable goods.


So what?

On the heels of a time of social and economic upheaval during which trust in institutions wavered, consumers are more interested in supporting brands that support people. With consumers now valuing sustainability and corporate social responsibility, brands that make those a priority have an opportunity to build greater allegiance. These findings also provide license for brands to tout their own benevolence more actively, as consumers are interested in hearing more about how companies give back.

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Mobile Video Consumption is Soaring

21% of all online video viewing worldwide in Q1 2014 took place on smartphones and tablets, according to a report from Ooyala, a video hosting and analytics platform. For comparison, in Q1 2013, mobile devices accounted for 9% of all video plays, and in Q1 2012 only 3% of views happened on mobile devices. Analyzing data from the media companies and consumer brands that use its video player, Ooyala found that although short videos (under 10 minutes) still account for the majority of views, videos longer than 10 minutes dominate the share of time spent across all devices: desktop (67%), tablets (77%), smartphones (57%) and connected TVs (80%). Connected TVs are especially popular for videos longer than an hour. Overall, the average time spent per viewing session is highest on connected TVs, followed by tablets, desktop, and finally smartphones. Ooyala also found that on every device, people spent more time watching live video than video on-demand, driven in part by popular sports events like the NFL Super Bowl and the Sochi Olympics.


So what?

While the lion's share of Condé Nast video views are still happening on desktops, we need to stay alert to the growth in mobile video consumption and make sure that the viewing experience is optimized for every device type.

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Quick Takes
Apps Now Comprise Half of All Time Spent with Digital

Source: comScore
$1.5 Billion Spent on World Cup Advertising; Latin America Leads the Way with $500 Million

Source: ZenithOptimedia, Business Insider
Older Millennials (25-34) Spend Just Over Three Years in Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, FiveThirtyEight
Cisco Projects Online Video to Generate Three-Quarters of Internet Traffic Within Five Years

Source: Cisco, Business Insider, Statista
Condé Nast
Feedback, questions, ideas for future issues? Please contact:

Phil Paparella
Condé Nast Research & Insights | Associate Director
1166 6th Avenue, 14th fl. | NY, NY 10036 | office 212.790.6044 | philip_paparella@condenast.com

Tamar Rimmon | Senior Manager, Digital Analytics
Robyn Hightower | Manager, Research & Insights