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AOP releases first-ever findings on how B2B online media influences business decision makers

New research from the UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) has demonstrated that business-to-business (B2B) websites* are ideally suited, not just for generating direct response, but also for brand advertising campaigns.

The research, ‘The role of B2B websites’, found that more than 75 per cent of business decision makers use B2B websites at least once a week, regarding them as a key source of information - more so than business publications, national newspapers or web portals. These users spend, on average, almost an hour per day online for work purposes. Sixty-four per cent find B2B websites a trustworthy source of information, 63 per cent believe that B2B websites provide a modern environment for a company to advertise, and more than 50 per cent use these sites to research and inform business decisions. Additionally, 31 per cent said they had remembered advertising on a B2B website and had responded at a later date.

AOP appointed media research experts Ipsos RSL to carry out the work, which aimed to establish the extent to which the internet has changed the way that decision makers find and use business information, what role B2B websites play in the decision making (especially purchasing) process, and how these users respond to advertising on B2B websites.

Said Iain Melville, managing director of Reed Business Information and AOP B2B research chair: “The online advertising market is growing rapidly, yet little to nothing was known about the usefulness of B2B online media in helping advertisers and agencies reach their target audience. AOP identified a need to examine strategic planning agencies’ attitudes to B2B online media, including barriers to including it on the planning schedule, and then to research the market to find out whether these attitudes were founded on actual behaviour.”

The research has enabled AOP to respond to some of the perceptions highlighted by agencies** on the barriers to using B2B websites as a tool for B2B advertising. Agencies believed that the key weakness of online is its potential to be intrusive. AOP found that more business decision makers (40 per cent) agreed that advertising on B2B websites is generally less intrusive than advertising on other websites, than disagreed (22 per cent), or neither agreed or disagreed (37 per cent).

Said James Burckhardt, head of research at VNU Business Publications: “The research confirms the growing importance of B2B websites as a reliable and essential source of business information. I find it particularly encouraging to see high levels of underlying trust in B2B sites, a factor that will be critical in the developing role of these sites as a more sophisticated aid to business purchasing.”

Said Ross Sturley, marketing director at Emap Construct: “The AOP research will provide our sales teams with evidence, for the first time, of how important B2B sites with high value content are in the working lives of business decision makers. Knowing, in a quantified way, the quality and depth of relationship they have with these sites will I hope lift B2B online advertising up the agenda of both the agency and direct client, and make integrated media campaigns with strong B2B brands an integral focus rather than an after-thought.”


Editor’s notes

Research methodology
Representatives from Emap, Faversham House Group, FT.com, IDG Communications, Reed Business Information and VNU Business Publications formed the AOP research group that initiated and developed the project.

*Definition of B2B websites: B2B media websites, carrying: news, editorial features, analysis
Respondents given list of 4-5 websites dependent on sector, e.g.:

AOP commissioned media research experts Ipsos-RSL to carry out the work, which was approached in two stages:

**Stage 1: 12 in-depth telephone interviews with strategic planning agencies examined agency attitudes to B2B online, including perceived strengths and weaknesses of online for B2B advertising.
Interviews completed 1 Nov – 22 Nov 2004
Stage 2: 366 telephone interviews with business decision makers investigated their usage of, and attitudes towards B2B websites, the role these play in influencing purchasing decisions, and response to advertising. Sample taken from Dun and Bradstreet, representative of the UK business industry.
Interviews completed 11 Jan – 28 Jan 2005

About AOP

The UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) is an industry body representing online publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of approximately 160 publishing companies from diverse backgrounds including newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, and pure online media. Together they publish around 1,150 products and attract more than five billion page impressions per month.

AOP presents a unified voice to industry and Government, specifically to address issues and concerns relating to all areas of online publishing. AOP publishes original research, hosts forums, conferences and events, covering a range of topics from paid-for-content, subscription models and data protection, through to copyright, content management, new technologies and audience measurement.

Last year AOP produced the highly acclaimed research ‘Reaching the Online Elite’ and every year it delivers the annual member benchmarking study, the ‘AOP Census’.

The AOP autumn Online Publishing Conference & Awards is its annual industry event. It attracts the biggest names in online publishing to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and celebrate outstanding achievement.

Members include Associated New Media, BBC, BSkyB, Capital Radio Group, Channel 4, Dennis Interactive, The Economist Group, Emap, FT.com, Future Publishing, Guardian Unlimited, Haymarket Publishing, Independent Digital, IPC Media, ITV Online, News International, Reed Business Information, Telegraph Group Limited, VNU Business Publications and Which?. In addition, PPAi (Periodical Publishers Association Interactive) retains a corporate seat on AOP board: representing the interests of magazine publishers online.



Katy Howell
immediate future Ltd.
0845 408 2031

Published on: 12:00AM on 7th April 2005