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More than half of American consumers are likely to read and act upon online advertising articles that include brand information – when compared with banners, pop-ups, email offers and sponsored links, according to (pdf) a survey from Adfusion.

Article-based advertising is preferred by 51% of respondents who are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to read and act upon the material. Coveted demographic groups – such as Millennials and high-earners – are even more likely to express a preference for ads that tell a story, the survey found More than two-thirds (67%) of those between ages 18 and 24, and 56% of those making at least $75K per year say they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to read and act upon article-based advertising.

Pop-up ads are least likely to be read or acted upon by all demographic groups and audience segments, the survey found.

The survey asked respondents to rate their likelihood to read and act upon five types of online advertising: banner ads, pop-up ads, e-mail offers, articles that include brand information, and sponsored search engine links. By ad type, respondents said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to read and respond to:

adfusion-percentage-likely-respond-online-ad-types-march-2009.jpg

  • Articles that include brand information: 51%
  • Email offers: 47%
  • Sponsored search engine links: 39%
  • Banner ads: 25%
  • Pop-up ads: 13%

Article-Based Ads Likely to Generate Searches

When asked how frequently they conduct internet searches for products or services they read about in online articles, half the respondents say “very frequently” or “somewhat frequently,” Adfusion said. Again, young and high-income people show a preference for online articles. Some 69% of 18-to-24-year-olds say they are likely to conduct a search for products or services based on an article, and 57% of those making more than $75K per year expressed their likelihood to perform a search.

Additional survey findings:

  • Pop-up ads are universally the least favorable option for every audience segment, regardless of age, race, income, sex, region, size of household or presence of children in the household. An overwhelming majority (87%) of survey respondents said they are not very likely or not at all likely to read and act upon pop-up ads).
  • 56% of households containing three or more people said they are very likely or somewhat likely to read and act upon articles that include brand information.
  • 62% of households with 13 to 17 year-old children said they are very likely or somewhat likely to read and act upon articles that include brand information.
  • 52% of college graduates said they conduct internet searches for products or services they read about in online articles either very frequently or somewhat frequently.

According to ARAnet president Scott Severson, the preference for article-based advertising is revealing in that both the youngest and the highest-income respondents prefer articles. “A key finding for marketers is that younger audiences respond to information that reaches them in the form of articles. More than two-thirds of the respondents between ages 18 and 34 said they conduct internet searches for products or services they read about in online articles either very frequently or somewhat frequently,” Severson said. “Our interpretation of the data is that, compared with banner ads or other options, people respond better when they can read an article, evaluate it, and then decide to click through for more information.”

Other research from Text 100, which shows that earned media articles are more effective than ads in building brand awareness for complex products, supports the idea that narrative-based material gets more attention in certain situations.

About the survey: The national study of 1,074 adults was conducted online by Opinion Research Corporation. The sample comprised 520 men and 554 women ages 18+ and was conducted March 9-10, 2009.

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