The internet was once a frontier for advertisers seeking to reach new audiences. However, as the internet and its users grew, advertisers have sought more sophisticated advertising strategies to help them understand their online audiences.
A new segment of people engage with the world wide web differently than others, according to new research out of High Point University and the University of Florida. These people – known as “interactive audiences” – not only engage more with websites, but are also more likely to share what they’ve done online with their friends.
These findings come from a study published in the August 2014 issue of The International Journal on Media Management conducted by Yan Yang, Ph.D. 2011 and Amy Jo Coffey, telecommunications professor.
The study involved a national survey of 200 Internet users who answered a series of questions about their demographics and online behavior. Participants were asked how frequently they used a series of interactive web features, such as choosing which ad to view and downloading videos. They also reported how frequently they viewed videos online, how likely they were to tell others about videos they’d seen online and recorded how many hours per day they spent online and with other media like television and newspapers.
Based on the survey results, participants were broken into three types of users: non-interactive, average and interactive. Interactive audiences were seen as the most beneficial for advertisers to reach since they were more likely to engage with web features and share content with their friends.
The researchers found that Interactive audiences are considerably younger, wealthy people of color, making between $60,000 and $79,999 annually – a feature which makes them especially valuable to advertisers because of their increased disposable income.
The researchers offer several suggestions for people interested in harnessing the buying power of interactive users. For content providers, they advise “offering video content across platforms” to help bring television programs to online viewers.
The most commonly used interactive features are those that let audiences share their online media consumption with others including voting and recommendation buttons.
“Advertisers should appeal to the needs of this audience segment as they could serve as brand evangelists for other online users,” the researchers say. To reach interactive audiences, “spend more money producing ads specifically for the web [rather] than just recycling TV commercials.”
Read the study: The International Journal on Media Management
This post originally appeared on University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Research and Insights blog.