Which Industries Really Like Sponsored Links

When advertising on destination sites, some industries prefer sponsored text links while others are less focused on them. For text links, about 18% of all ad impressions are from Retailers while another 47% come from Web Media advertisers -- and that makes sense.

However, straight reporting of text link placements doesn't tell the whole story for industries who participate at lower levels. To understand all industry results better, we compared each industry's sponsored text link activity to all online ad units. Here are top-level findings, based on Nielsen Online monthly data:

* HIGHER than median ad levels: Business-to-Business; Entertainment; Public Services; Retail; Web Media
* MEDIAN ad levels: Health; Software; Travel
* LOWER than median ad levels: Automotive; Consumer Goods; Financial; Hardware; Telecom

The pecking order of industries may seem a bit surprising, because it's all volume based -- and without CPC/CPM rates or click throughs entering the picture. While it's true that companies control their overall activity levels, no company or industry controls match rates per se. Those with higher text impressions may simply be "better matched" to the 2,000 destinations tracked by Nielsen.

At this point, the lion's share of text links are served across the whole Google network. It's possible that industry participation levels could shift, especially when advertisers are able to make more placements based on verticals or destinations (i.e. through Quigo, Pulse 360, others).

Other explanations? You could chalk up the preferences due to the nature of these industries and the types of products/services sold, but that's a reach. Or you could say these industries are more “direct marketing” driven, but that doesn't work too well for Entertainment.

Let's start looking at these industry relationships over time. We would like to understand if industry activity levels are stable, dynamic or beginning to change -- based on new text link ad opportunities or other factors.

For those interested in "drilling down" to actual industry percentages, please see the spreadsheet and calculation details below.

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How the calculations work: Nielsen Online reports ad placements monthly, based on over 2,000 sites and subsites. They track impressions for five different ad units, namely sponsored text links, flash, rich media, standard images, and standard images with text links. For each type of ad unit, we divided each industry's volume by total volume. Then we calculated industry medians across the five types of ad units.