Early adopters of innovative products could be an even more valuable audience for online advertisers than previously thought. New research, seen exclusively by Marketing Week, reveals they are 92% more likely than average consumers to be influenced by online advertising.
Brands of many kinds – not just in the technology sector – could benefit from targeting this audience, according to the study by Kantar Media. Early adopters – defined as those who say they buy new products before most of their friends – are 133% more likely than the average internet user to agree that they spend a lot on clothing. The sites they visit are also more varied than advertisers might assume (see methodology, below).
Kantar senior marketing manager James Powell says: “New technology sites are out in the lead, which fits with the attitude statement that forms this target audience. But it is interesting to note that beauty and religious sites are also prominent, which you wouldn’t intuitively expect such a group to be really into.”
Early adopters are 46% more likely than the average internet user to have been to a site that features new technologies in the past month, 30% more likely to have visited a beauty-related site and 25% more likely to have visited a religious site. They are also more likely to have visited gaming, music download, mobile phone and film sites.
Among technology-related sites, image upload and personal storage sites are popular. Early adopters view more pages on Imageshack.us and its Twitter-linked social sharing site Yfrog.com than other internet users, suggesting that many of them tweet regularly. Archive.org, which presents cached historical versions of websites so users can see what they looked like in the past, and technology discussion site AVForums.com also do well with this group.
Nearly a third of these consumers say they have spent at least £500 online in the past six months, making them 23% more likely than the average internet user to have done so. They are 45% more likely to have gone online using a games console and 62% more likely to have accessed the internet through a TV set.
Not only are these early adopters big spenders and enthusiastic users of a variety of online platforms, but they are also comparatively receptive to advertising messages, says Powell. “It is interesting that they are particularly likely to pay attention to ads in magazines, but even more likely to find internet ads the most useful in making purchase decisions,” he says.
Early adopters are 36% more likely than the average adult to pay attention to magazine ads, but 51% more likely to say that online advertising is the most relevant ad format for them. More than other adults, they also tend to be of the opinion that advertising within video games enhances the realism of the gaming environment, rather than detracting from the experience. This would suggest that the group is rarely turned off by advertising messages interrupting their media consumption.
While technology brands and manufacturers with a strong focus on product innovation would naturally want to target early adopters, additional lifestyle information about these consumers suggests that a much wider range of brand advertising could also be of interest to them. They are more likely than the average internet user to visit a pub once a week, to have a Next store card and to have bought diamond jewellery in the past year.
One site that stands out as being a regular online haunt for these consumers is Timeanddate.com, which provides information on timezones, calendars and the weather, as well as a meeting planner tool. Early adopters were found to have viewed an average of 74.5 pages on the site in the past four weeks, compared with 19.4 pages viewed by other users of the site.
Kantar Media’s data suggests not only that brands could afford to be more open-minded about where they advertise online, but also that there is potential for tailoring brand campaigns across a variety of websites to target the early adopter segment.
We ask marketers on the frontline whether our ‘trends’ reseach matches their experience on the ground
Our focus is very much on consumer technology. The data we have on our users comes from internal analytics, which tells us when they come to the site and what they look at.
We divide our audience up in three ways – tech savvy, savvy consumer and tech proud. Tech savvy people are early adopters with lots of money to spend. They like to keep up to date with technology and give advice to their friends and peers. They follow us on Facebook, interact and share our content.
The savvy consumer is someone who is looking to buy technology for a specific purpose and is in more of a research mode. They use Cnet because they are about to buy a new piece of consumer technology.
The tech proud segment is somewhere in the middle. They want to keep up to date, but are probably less into it than the tech savvy people. They visit the site from time to time, but especially when researching new products. They tend to access the site more using a phone.
We are not aiming at one particular type of consumer. We are trying to make the audience as big as possible, so part of our brand is to try to cater for both the top end and the mass market. In terms of what we cover, we will pick everything from the super-expensive high-end phone or the £2,500 TV all the way down to earphones that cost a few pounds.
We have different sections of the site that cater for the different audiences. The commercial aim is to help advertisers follow users through the purchase process. Our model is based on a decision journey, broken up into the initial consideration set, active consideration and the purchase.
Co-founder and vice-president of corporate communications
MediaFire (file sharing and cloud storage company)
We started in 2006, with an offer of free and unlimited storage. Since then, we haven’t spent a dime on marketing. When people use our product it has a viral effect by its nature as receivers get a MediaFire alert to let them know there’s a file waiting for them, so that acts as a marketing message.
We have users spanning the entire range of consumers, from early adopters to grandparents. A lot of businesses are also starting to use us more as a cloud storage platform for their organisation.
Online marketing manager
We have noticed through audience segmentation that we have a very good percentage of people who fall into that early adopters category. A lot of our users tend to be IT professionals, very interested in technology. We’ve seen high behavioural interest for video games as well as financial so it definitely makes sense in terms of what the Kantar Media research is saying.
Advertising is more generalised on our site because we have a very diverse audience and a large user base. We have 30 million registered users and we’re expecting to add 20 million this year. Although it’s nice to know we have the segment of technology enthusiasts there, we do have to take into account all the other users we have as well.
Severine de Maximoff
Sales and marketing manager
Ninety-six per cent of our audience is male, and that is primarily due to the fact that we cover anything to do with technology. We have around 286,000 forum members, but we have between 2.5 and 3 million unique visitors per month and they spend an average of six minutes on the site. Almost 69% visit the forums several times a day.
We have over 300 forums on different subjects, and we also have a very heavy lifestyle focus, which covers areas like DIY, motorsport and parenting. We find our male audience comes to the site because they have a hobby, which is predominately to do with technology, and then they visit the lifestyle topics because they think they are part of a community. For example, we have a digital photography forum where the users have organised their own competitions.
We have 310,000 unique visitors every month to our gaming area, and 52% visit AVForums as their only gaming site, although we are not considered a gaming destination as such. Having said that, the gamers that we have on the site own 3.43 gaming platforms each on average, buy between four and six games a year and are going to spend a total of £98m on gaming in the next 12 months, according to our research. They are hardcore gamers, but not the ones you would find on a normal gaming site.
We have recently created a lifestyle forum. A lot of men are confronted with having to raise their children when their wives are not around, and they like to have that discussion without being judged. They feel they can trust the people on there, their opinions and input. We are almost the ‘dadsnet’ of this world. Most people use our website to get advice. Part of the audience is a bit geeky – enthusiasts who volunteer to provide a lot of answers inside the forum.
We are quite a small business, and at the moment we have mostly attracted brands that are likely to have an interest in the core business because it is an enthusiast audience.
We have an audience that has the means to purchase products because their household income is quite high. They are influencers and opinion formers, and we know that a lot of people commenting on the site end up spending a lot more money on purchases because they read our independent reviews.
The findings have emerged from an analysis of early adopters’ online habits and offline attitudes commissioned by Marketing Week using Kantar Media’s TGI Clickstream research tool. Kantar’s technology couples web browsing analytics with detailed consumer segmentation data to show where different kinds of consumers spend their time online and what kinds of marketing they are receptive to.