October 28, 2003, 12:00 AM

Online ads have a longer tail than thought

New research from Advertising.com shows that only 9-11% of sales take place within three hours of when an ad appears.

Online marketers are used to seeing the immediate impact of an effective online ad--traffic to sites and purchases typically shoot up within a short period after the ad’s appearance. But new research from Advertising.com Inc. shows that, like ads in other media, an online ad’s effect can have a tail that results in sales long after the ad has appeared.

"These findings show what a significant portion of conversion activity takes place well beyond the impression," says Scott Ferber, CEO of Advertising.com. "It suggests that traditional measurement approaches, such as per-action or per-click evaluation, may not tell the whole story. It also reveals how lasting the effect of an impression can be, which is food for thought when it comes to the potential of online brand advertising--garnering mindshare, not just clickshare."

Data from Advertising.com’s Optigence research platform showed that approximately one-third of all conversions happen on the same day that the impression is served. But continued monitoring revealed that up to 85% of conversions occurred in the days after a user was served an impression. Advertising.com analyzed click-throughs and conversions on over 370 million impressions served for three advertisers. The longer periods of monitoring revealed that only 9-11% of campaigns` total conversions occurred within three hours of the impression being served.

The study also analyzed conversions on an hourly basis. As many as 30% of the conversions happened during the same hours that the impression was served. For example, Advertising.com says, if a user saw an impression on Monday at 2 p.m. but did not convert on the ad until Wednesday, it is likely that the conversion happened at or near 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Advertising.com says this supports the theory that users` consumption of the Internet is patterned and repeated on a daily basis.

Advertising.com`s Optigence research platform conducts continual analysis of anonymous user behavior based on data collected from the company`s performance-based advertising network, which the company says represents approximately 72% of all online users. All findings were tracked based on date and time of the most recent impression served, date and time of the conversion and conversion interval.

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