Wanna Grab Online Dollars? Yahoo, Gartner Offer Help

In a time when advertising revenues aren't enough to sustain an Internet venture, an old faithful in the dot-com world is trying to evolve its business model to stay ahead of the game. Yahoo Inc. is extending its Fusion Marketing offering to include the Yahoo Buzz Index, a service that will track the queries of its 166 million monthly site visitors in order to help its clients see more immediately whether their advertising campaigns are touching the right subjects.

The Fusion Marketing program collects aggregated demographic information about site visitors, and the Buzz Index will measure what terms and products those users are looking for on Yahoo. The company says it can show its partners daily, weekly, or monthly trends in Yahoo traffic, crossed with demographic information, allowing advertisers to keep their marketing message in tune with the interests of their target users.

Gomez Advisors analyst Alan Alper says that offering market research provides Yahoo a smart value-add to simply selling per-click ads. And the benefits to Yahoo's partners are reciprocal. "You don't want to be preaching to empty minds," Alper says. "If you're not reaching people with a resonating message, you want to make sure you fine tune it. The great thing about the online medium is that you can get immediate feedback."

Further insight into online marketing was offered by Gartner Group, which Monday released the results of a study of 40,000 Internet users aimed at aiding online retailers gearing up for the holiday season. Bucking the perception of the young as the key Internet-using market, Gartner says the highest demographic of users is 41 years old with $65,000 in annual income. The appeal of online buying is that it saves time, a commodity more precious than money for most of these users. Gartner estimates that this year online holiday sales will be $19.5 billion worldwide.

A good gauge of whether or not people will buy online is whether they've purchased online before, Gartner says. The study says that people who've been using the Internet for more than three years are twice as likely to make an online purchase than relative newcomers.

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