Study: Consumer Mindsets Matter

Don’t mess with people when they are paying their bills—unless you can help. Passion time is private time. So stay away, unless you share that passion, too.

But when people are online to be entertained or just shooting the digital breeze with friends, they’re all yours.
Those are just a few of the nuggest of wisdom unearthed by an elaborate study conducted by Yahoo and MediaVest on the importance of consumer mindset in online advertising. According to a the study, in an era where buyers are seemingly ignoring the importance of context and environment in favor of reaching exact audiences, Yahoo and MediaVest have found that mindset is still crucial to successful online marketing.

For example, when looking to accomplish a goal such as paying their bills, 52 percent of the study’s respondents said they were giving full attention to that goal. And thus 58 percent of those folks said they didn’t want to be interrupted by advertising at that time (unless, perhaps, advertising related to bill paying).

Similarly, when users are online in pursuit of their passion—whether it be sailing or religion, they demonstrate a similar correlation between being fully immersed and less receptive to unrelated advertising.

But that doesn’t mean that advertising has to be related to the content or activity a particular person is engaged with. The study found that when users are online to connect with friends or in search of entertainment—i.e. surfing the Web—far fewer claimed to be completely immersed in what they are doing. Just 42 percent of respondents claimed they didn’t want to be bothered when connecting with friends, and 47 percent of users made the same claim about entertainment on the Web.

According to the study’s findings, that’s when brands have a better chance to reach users with unexpected or unrelated ads.

To reach its conclusions, Yahoo and MediaVest surveyed over 3,300 respondents on the Web. The two companies also recruited several Web users to complete online diaries via which they logged their Web usage. Plus Yahoo and MediaVest researchers also conducted numerous, in-depth personal interviews with a cross-section of demographic groups.

The big takeaway—as sophisticated as online ad targeting has become—is that “[we] have to be much smarter about how we use [advertising], and user mindsets can make us much smarter,” said Radha Subramanyam vp, head of corporate and media research at Yahoo. “Going online is about everything from researching a disease to catching up with a best friend.” And brands have to factor those two very different activities in when planning and executing campaigns.

When it comes to online entertainment, “pretty much anything goes,” said Subramanyam.

But should brands stay away completely when they are in research or passion mode? “There are not any places where you shouldn’t advertise at all,” she said. “But when advertising to a user exploring their passion, a brand needs to match the tone of their passion.”