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Key Findings – November/December 2009

Seven Predictions for 2010 Heavy Mobile Web Users Online Consumer Reviews Drive Sales
Defining Sustainability Global Warming Concerns Growing Women Using Social Media
Television and Newspapers Remain Primary News Sources Family Time Down Due to Internet Chronic Health Conditions Not Being Treated
Social Media and B2B Marketers Executives’ Retirement Plans Change Americans Multitasking Habits


  • Almost three in 10 Americans (29%) say that the recession added stress or completely ruined their romantic relationships, compared to 24% of the French, 23% of Canadians, and 12% of Germans.
  • More than one-third of cell phone users (38%) have sent a text message to the wrong person, and 37% report that a text they sent was misunderstood by the reader.
  • Most workers (64%) don’t know how much their employer pays towards their health insurance each month, and 27% don’t know what they themselves pay.

More Bullets…

Seven Predictions for 2010 offers seven predictions for 2010 which will begin gathering momentum and take on greater importance in subsequent years.

1.  U.S. advertising budgets will have an accelerated migration of ad dollars from traditional to digital media. According to Forrester Research, 59% of US marketers plan to increase their budgets for digital by pulling funds from traditional outlets. A variety of researchers say that total online ad spending will see between 5 and 10% growth.

2.  Even after the recession, total media dollars will fail to return to former levels. The $192 billion spent in 2008 is the absolute peak of media spending — at least for the next decade. For decades, the entire multibillion-dollar media industry has been puffed up beyond its true value. Marketers paid huge sums to maximize reach, while knowing that thousands or millions of the people seeing their campaigns would never buy their products. Gradually, though, as the financial and housing markets are doing, media will shrink to match the true value it is delivering to marketers.

3. While media dollars have imploded, media consumption will continue to explode. Due to increasingly empowered consumers and further advances in technology, look for media to become more:

  • Distributed—the same content will pop up in multiple locations, formats and channels.
  • Personalized—media will be tailored to reflect what consumers have watched, read, experienced and shared.
  • Contextualized—when and where consumers get their information will dictate its content and format, and that, in turn, will shape how they interact with and share it.

Each of these trends will lead to more precise targeting, which will also reinforce trend No. 2, the stagnation of media spending.

4. Advertising will support less and less of the load for content and entertainment. Fueled by the low cost of digital distribution, combined with vast amounts of consumer-generated content in the form of blogs, social networks, photo- and video-sharing sites, and rampant Twitter activity, media choices have exploded. There is no way advertising can pay all the freight for this media tonnage. In addition, marketers are clamoring for more direct contact with consumers, especially to engage with them on social networks, and this will divert ad money and attention away from third-party publishers.
Advertising will by no means go away, but it will play a smaller role as paid content and hybrid models emerge.

5. Advertising on social networks will never attract a large share of marketers’ ad dollars. eMarketer estimates social network advertising will grow only 7% next year to $1.3 billion, accounting for a mere 5.5% of total online ad dollars. And while ad spending on these sites will never represent a significant share of total online ad dollars, spending on non-advertising forms of social marketing will rise significantly next year and beyond.
Marketers are more interested in genuine engagement with consumers on social platforms, and less in opportunities to flood them with banner ads. Social marketing works best when it’s earned, not paid for. It’s a matter of leveraging the inherent trust consumers have in each other.

Eventually, online social activities and connections will be baked into every form of digital content on the Web, from brand Websites and shopping sites to search engines, traditional media sites and entertainment portals.

6. Marketers will be increasingly willing to trade off reach for deeper engagement. This goes right along with the drive toward improved targeting and increasingly efficient media buys. Rather than try to reach every conceivable person who fits a particular demographic, marketers will be looking for technologies and ad solutions that allow them to reach only the people who—by their past surfing behavior, search queries, online purchases, social connections, Twitter posts and other digital footprints—indicate that they are likely prospects. The analogy here is to search. The search advertising market has been so successful precisely because it captures consumers’ intentions.

7. The classic interruption/disruption model of advertising — whereby marketers insert unwanted, usually irrelevant ads as a price the consumer must pay to view desired content — will erode, if not fade away. Consumers in the digital age simply have too much control over their media environments these days for marketers to be pushing unwanted banners, buttons or videos. This raises the bar for marketers and their agencies to develop new forms of messages that are not even perceived as ads, but rather as welcome content. The challenge will be to better identify likely prospects and to create communications that are so compelling, entertaining, informative or useful that the consumer is not only happy to receive them, but also motivated to share them with others.

Heavy Mobile Web Users

The US mobile Internet population is growing rapidly. For example, some 29.2% of mobile phone users logged onto the mobile Web at least once per month in 2009, compared to 22.3% in 2008. Many of these are considered heavy users: those who go online via mobile more than 10 times per week.

One in five (21%) US mobile users qualify as heavy mobile Internet users in 2009, up from less than 15% in 2008. In addition, the overall average number of monthly mobile Web sessions has doubled in that time period.

Heavy users of text messaging and mobile e-mail have also grown over the past year; nearly one-half of mobile users text more than 10 times weekly, while one in five send and receive more than 10 mobile e-mails per week.

Overall, users are becoming more active across many mobile activities except in non-local searches for products and services. Almost one-fifth of users, however, had performed a local search.  The following chart offers details on these trends.

Online Consumer Reviews Drive Sales

The majority of Americans (84%) say that consumer reviews influence their purchase decisions. Contrast this with how many have written reviews (28%) to see how much influence a few hold on this process. One-half of the 84% say they rely on these reviews during the first stage of the buying cycle. The most popular sources are company websites (71%), online rating systems (57%), and government/consumer advocacy sites (54%).

Defining Sustainability

Some 75% of Americans buy the same amount or more sustainable products than they did a year ago, despite the economy. Overall, 88% are interested in sustainable products, while only 56% say they actually understand sustainability. The chart below offers Americans’ definitions of sustainability.

Global Warming Concerns Growing

Eighty percent of Americans believe that global warming is occurring. Most say (65%) it is the combined result of human activity and the earth’s natural cycling, while 20% say it is entirely the result of a natural cycle. Almost all (95%) say there are actions they can take to reduce their own energy consumption. Most Americans (69%) think that reducing their energy use would not affect their lives, while 20% say it would improve their quality of life, 6% say it would decrease their quality of life, and 5% say they are unsure of the effects.

Women Using Social Media

According to BlogHer, most online adult women (53%) use social media at least once a week. Of these, 75% use a social networking site such as Facebook at least weekly, 55% read or contribute to blogs, 40% visit message boards or forums, and 16% use status updating sites such as Twitter.

Women using online social media at least once a week are:

  • Married or living with their significant other (60%)
  • Mothers (44%)
  • College graduates (33%)
  • Wealthy (household income of $100,000 or more) (11%)
  • Invest time in searching for new products/ideas online (72%)
  • Describe themselves as on the leading edge of something new (40%)
  • Claim to be technically savvy (58%)
  • Say they are sources that others seek out for advice (60%)

Television and Newspapers Remain Primary News Sources

According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, television remains Americans’ primary source (31.1%) of news, compared to daily newspapers (19.4%), radio (19.4%), online (14.6%), weekly community papers (4.4%), free shopper newspapers (2.9%) and magazines (2.1%).

When rating the credibility of media sources, US adults ranked them in almost the same order as their preferences: TV came in highest, followed by newspapers and radio tied for second place, and online was third. Only the positions of magazines and free shopper newspapers were reversed.

When asked about local versus national and international news, the study again found an overall preference for television news. While respondents favored newspapers and radio over the Internet for local news, they rated online higher for learning about national and international events.

Family Time Down Due to Internet

From 2000 to 2005, Americans spent an average of 26 hours a month with family. However, by 2008, family time had dropped to 18 hours a month. More than one-quarter of online Americans (28%) are spending less time with family members since they have had an Internet connection at home, up from 11% in 2006.

Other survey findings by the Center for the Digital Future include:

  • 35% of high income households are spending less time together.
  • 28% of family members say children under 18 are spending too much time online, up from 11% in 2000.
  • Women (49%) are more likely than men (39%) to say they have been ignored by a family member who was online.

Chronic Health Conditions Not Being Treated

Chronic conditions such as hypertension, arthritis and diabetes, account for 75% of medical care costs in the U.S. Most of these individuals are living with pain (71%) and are under significant stress (65%). One-half (50%) also suffer from depression periodically. Some 25% of those dealing with a chronic illness have delayed getting a healthcare treatment or filling a prescription for financial reasons in the past year, with 38% not having the money to do what it takes to improve their health. The proportion rises to 63% of Hispanics and 58% of Blacks. Overall, 59% of individuals with four or more chronic conditions also lack the financial means to improve their health.

Social Media and B2B Marketers

The “2010 Outlook” by BtoB Magazine predicts that social media marketing will continue to be of growing importance for business-to-business marketers. As of November 2009, 54% of survey respondents were using social media for marketing, up 9 percentage points from November 2008 and about 4 points from June 2009. And, 60% of business-to-business marketers say they plan to boost spending on social media in 2010.

Among business-to-business social network marketers, thought leadership was the main purpose (60%) for social media efforts, followed by generating leads (49%), collecting customer feedback (46%), advertising (35%), marketing research (29%) and other (15%). Most business-to-business marketers said they tracked results themselves, either manually or with a monitoring tool. About 20% relied on an agency for metrics, while 21% reported not the tracking results at all.

Executives’ Retirement Plans Change

A 2009 survey by The Korn/Ferry Institute shows that one-half (52%) of executives plan to retire at age 64 or older, a jump of 8% from 2004. And, regardless of retirement age, most (63%) plan to work later in life than they expected three years ago. Only 25% of respondents had not changed their retirement expectations recently. Some 53 of executives said their company does not provide adequate retirement benefits, with 39% saying they are adequate and 8% saying they were not sure of their company’s retirement program.

Almost one-half (48%) of executives said their companies are concerned about losing critical knowledge as Baby Boomers retire, up 7% from 2004.

Americans Multitasking Habits

According to a study by Experian Simmons, Americans fit 38 hours worth of activity into a 24-hour day. They most commonly multitask while watching TV. The average person spends three hours a day watching TV, and 72% of those are spent also using another medium. The most typical activities are surfing the web (27%), using their cell phones (26%) and emailing (23%).

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