Digital Media Best Branding Tool Says Yahoo and MediaVest Study

Digital media has emerged as the most effective branding tool according to a latest Yahoo and MediaVest Study .According to the study, highly-engaged consumers called “Passionistas” are much more likely than typical consumers to create and share content online about their passions and the brands associated with them. By tapping into the power of Passionistas, marketers have a unique opportunity to engage these credible, influential advocates to spread brand messages through digital media.

‘Advertising that taps into consumers’ passions is likely to deliver greater online engagement which leads to brand loyalty and advocacy’ says the study.

The study, “Passionistas: The New Empowered Consumers,” which tracked the online behavior of consumers with specific passions including health, sports, food and entertainment, showed that Passionistas spend significantly more time engaged in activities related to their passions than the average consumer. For example:

– For every one minute a typical Internet user spends online with the same content, Passionistas spend six minutes.

– Passionistas will visit a website related to their passion three times more than a typical user.

– Passionistas search online for information about their passion 184 percent more than typical users and conduct more than 100 related searches related to their passion per year.

In addition, Passionistas heavily engage with communities of like-minded consumers who use email, text messaging, and instant messaging significantly more than typical users, and are more likely to create and share user-generated content online such as photos, blog posts or videos about their passions. Because of their intense engagement around sharing information about their passions through digital media, Passionistas are natural brand advocates and 52% more likely than typical users to recommend or influence others about brands aligning with them.

“Being passionate today means digital content sharing and influencing others’ brand perceptions and purchase behaviors,” said Mark McLaughlin, Vice President of Audience Strategies at Yahoo!, “Marketers who build their campaigns from the start with the goal of tapping into passions are inviting consumers to get engaged and create an authentic dialogue.”

“Brands that stimulate conversation among passionate consumers will be rewarded through the credibility that comes from trusted word of mouth,” said Jim Kite, President of Connections Research and Analytics at MediaVest. “Accessing Passionistas online also offers the ability to track this valuable group’s media consumption habits, enabling brands to optimally — and accountably — leverage their advocacy power.”

The study also found that timing is a critical ingredient in making the most effective connection with these hyper-enthusiastic consumers. Passionistas become unusually active and engaged when their interest is sparked by noteworthy events, such as Britney Spears’ appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, the beginning of the NFL season, the premier of a new TV show, or the opening of a new restaurant.

These “sparks” catalyze online activity such as blogging, photo sharing or instant messaging, which comes naturally to Passionistas. For example, rapper Eve’s new video might spur one Passionista to share her excitement with friends via email or texts, search online for Eve’s other recent releases, shop for similar looks, blog about the lyrics, and then share photos of herself wearing a similar dress. These spark events trigger consumer behavior way out into the long tail of media that can benefit the brand associated with this initial spark.

Additional findings from the study support the conclusion that Passionistas are more open than others to advocating brands that appear to share their passions:

— 53 percent said they would try a brand they had not previously considered if it were associated with their passion, versus 41 percent of typical users;

— 49 percent said their opinion of the brand would be more favorable if associated with their passion, versus 34 percent of typical users;

— 46 percent said a brand has greater credibility if associated with their passion, versus 34 percent of typical users;

— 43 percent said their opinion of a brand is more positive if they sponsor an event related to their passion, versus 30 percent of typical users.

According to the research, Passionistas seek relevant and timely information, including ads that look and feel like content, email subscriptions and RSS feeds, and customized suggestions from vendors like Amazon or Netflix. They hold their brands to a high standard — and expect intelligent advertising, new approaches and authenticity. These consumers are more likely than average to remix content as a way to play with a brand, using online tools that make it increasingly easy for them to create movies, songs or slideshows to share with their friends.

A comprehensive three-phase research methodology approach was used for the study. The goal was to establish a framework around how consumers use, share and leverage media around their passions.

The qualitative portion of the research was conducted by Conifer from June to July of 2007 using an ethnographic approach (documentary-style interviewing). Interviews were conducted with 21 respondents in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, and examined their media behavior related to passions for a three week period. The quantitative portion of the study was conducted by comScore via an online survey of 2,013 respondents who were surveyed for their attitudes and behaviors about passions within four categories: Heath & Fitness, Sports, Movies & Entertainment, and Cooking & Food. Lastly, using comScore’s online panel of 1+ million members, click stream behavior was observed anonymously from June to August 2007 to determine online behavior related to consumer passions.

Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! seeks to provide online products and services essential to users’ lives, and offers a full range of tools and marketing solutions for businesses to connect with Internet users around the world. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

MediaVest, a division of the Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), a subsidiary of Paris-based Publicis Groupe, is one of the leading, full-service media specialist companies offering brand-building results and business solutions. Consistently delivering Connections That Captivate and industry-first initiatives and products, MediaVest’s long-standing client partnerships include some of the world’s leading marketers including Kraft, P&G and The Coca-Cola Company.

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