January 10, 2005

2005 AD:TECH Study Results -- Internet Marketers Reveal What's Working, What's Not, & 2005 Budget Plans

SUMMARY: We just helped AD:TECH survey 263 of the biggest online marketers in the world (folks who spend 39.2% average of their total advertising and marketing budgets online). Results included:

- Email wins over search marketing

- Majority of online handled in-house (vs by agencies)

- Pops are finally dud performers (at last)

- Analytics software voted top investment

Loads of data for you here:
Email campaigns sent to house lists pulled ahead of paid search ads this year to win the crown of top tactic with "great results" as reported by AD:TECH attendees in the annual survey conducted by MarketingSherpa's editors December 2004.

That's right -- despite filters, legislation, overcrowded inboxes, and aging lists, good old email kicked hot-stuff search out of the winner's spot. Here's more specific results data for you...

1. Top and worst performing online ad tactics of 2004

As we noted above, email to house list had the most votes -- with 45% of respondents saying it was "great" and 48% reporting moderate success.

You might think this is a no-brainer given that any marketing message to your house file should outpull campaigns targeting consumers you don't have a current relationship with. However, last year's study showed paid search and house list email running neck and neck.

Now email has pulled firmly into the lead. At 101 email votes vs. 76 paid search votes, 25% fewer current respondents reported great results for paid search campaigns.

Here's the list of "great results" votes -- the percent is of the folks who used that particular tactic, which felt it performed "great" versus moderately or badly:

Email house list 45% great votes
Paid search ads 41% great votes
Behavioral targeting 41% great votes
Affiliates 35% great votes
Rich Media ads 34% great votes
SEO (organic) 29% great votes
Text-link ads 24% great votes
Pops 24% great votes
Email newsletter ads 13% great votes
Standard Web banners 12% great votes
Email rented list 12% great votes

And, here are the "disappointing results" votes:

Email rented list 43% dud votes
Pops 37% dud votes
Email newsletter ads 30% dud votes
Standard Web banners 25% dud votes
Behavioral targeting 19% dud votes
Affiliates 18% dud votes
Rich Media ads 18% dud votes
SEO (organic) 16% dud votes
Text-link ads 17% dud votes
Email house list 7% dud votes
Paid search ads 7% dud votes

It's worth noting that in the past pop-ups were the tactic many marketers felt unwillingly chained to because although consumers hate them, they still worked. Now here's at last evidence that pops' efficacy may be coming to an end.

Although you might expect, overall, what-works votes to vary based on the campaign goal of the marketers in question, everyone's results -- from brand marketers to lead generation campaigners to direct sales experts all agreed about what works and what doesn't.

And these marketers based their votes on experience from heavy online ad spend. The average client-side respondent invested 39.2% of his or her total (offline and online) budget in Web and email campaigns.

2. 2005 budgets -- where marketers will increase spending

At 32%, for the second year in a row "Web site revamps" received the highest number of votes as the tactic that respondents said they'd "increase spending substantially" in. Only 3% of respondents said they would not spend anything on Web revamps, and 4% said they'd decrease spending from last year.

What else won a "substantially increase" spending vote?

SEM budget 24% Custom landing pages 20% Online ads in general 16% Email campaigns 15%

And, here are the loser tactics for 2005 budgets:

Wireless 67% not budgeted/2% decreased budget
Branded desktop app 59% not budgeted/3% decreased budget
Rich media 39% not budgeted/6% decreased budget
Behavioral targeting 38% not budgeted/3% decreased budget

For most tactics (aside from the top two above) folks intended to keep spending "about the same" or "increase a bit."

Yet again, marketers with widely disparate goals from branding to direct sales all reported roughly the same budgeting trends. We saw no outstanding variances between groups.

We also asked what types of measurements marketers planned to invest in for 2005. Based on our results, the analytics industry should be dancing in the streets. Another harbinger of things to come, newfangled eyeball testing runs even with tried-and-true usability labs:

Better analytics software for our site 57.4%
Paid search management/measurement tools 54.9%
Integrating offline and online tracking 53.6%
A/B landing page comparison tests 47.2%
Brand awareness study of online campaigns 39.1%
Usability lab testing 17.0%
Eyeball/eyetracking testing 16.6%

Here at last we did see some variances between marketing goals. At 49.3% brand marketers were 10 points more likely to invest in brand awareness studies; plus 61% said they'd invest in online/offline campaign tracking integration. But, you already guessed that, right?

3. Interactive agencies' futures look bright (sort of)

The good news is very few client-side respondents said they planned to switch interactive agencies or pull an outsourced account in-house in 2005.

The bad news is, for each of eight named tactics, including email, search, online media buying, and Web design, more than 50% of client-side marketers said "we don't outsource this." The worst was email strategy/creative at 59% non-outsourcing.

So, email may work like gangbusters, but it's tough to be an email-focused agency these days. 10% of marketers also said they might switch email broadcasters in 2005, and 14% intend to switch email list brokers.

However, if you specialize in online ads things look a bit more rosy. 18% of respondents said they used to do this in-house but were considering outsourcing. 17% said they'd outsource the non-search media buying.

Study Notes:

AD:TECH's second annual Study was conducted over the last two weeks in December 2004. AD:TECH show attendees and speakers were sent an email invitation to take an online questionnaire with seven questions. A total of 263 respondents finished questionnaires by December 31st. These reported an average 39.2% of their total offline and online marketing and advertising budgets was dedicated to online and email campaigns.

AD:TECH is the world's #1 trade show (in terms of longevity and attendance) for online advertisers and the agencies that serve them. http://www.ad-tech.com

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