AOL Research: Content is the Fuel of the Social Web

Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:30am EDT

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AOL Research: Content is the Fuel of the Social Web

27 Million Pieces of Online Content Shared Daily in the U.S.

60% of Content-Sharing Messages Specifically Mention a Brand or Product Name

AOL, Inc. (NYSE: AOL), in partnership with Nielsen, today released results of a new research study revealing online content is the connective tissue for Internet users with 27 million pieces of content shared on a daily basis. Results also show 53% of time spent on the Internet is directly attributable to content consumption, and consumers’ social graphs play a key role in sharing content with email as the primary sharing tool (66%). Nearly one-quarter of all social media messages contain links to content.

“AOL is focused on creating vibrant, addictive content in areas where consumers have passionate interests,” said John Burke, Senior Vice President, Global Sales Strategy, AOL. “The research findings further validate our strategy and focus on creating high-quality, original content. In addition to the actual content, we also provide the tools for consumers to share this content, and we partner with marketers who are interested in having consumers engage with their brand assets across AOL’s media properties.”

Brands Play Key Role in Content Sharing

The results of the research have strong implications for brand marketers when it comes to connecting with consumers. Sixty-percent of content-sharing messages specifically mention a brand or product name, and the most-often shared content is from a trusted source that provides helpful information.

Findings show that because some shared content is linked to while some is embedded, marketers have two tactics for exploiting the behavior of content sharing - one for each:

  • Pass-Along: Since 36% of content shared on social platforms is embedded, marketers should ensure their message is part of the content that’s being passed along (e.g., branded entertainment).
  • Link-Back: Since 60% of content shared on social platforms includes a link to an external site, marketers’ messages should “be there” when users link back to engage with that piece of content on the external site (e.g., display advertising).

Both approaches allow brands to capitalize on the mainstream behavior of content sharing across the social Web.

Burke added, “As we continue to spend more time interacting, engaging and sharing content within our social graphs, marketers have the opportunity to be an integral part of the consumer conversation.”

Methodology

To further understand the role of content in a person’s communications activities, Nielsen used its NM Incite Social Media Monitoring tools, Online Behavior Panel and Attitudinal analysis, tracking more than 10,000 social media messages and surveying more than 1,000 Nielsen Online panel members for 10 consecutive days from December 14 to December 23, 2010. The margin of error is lower than +/-10%.

To learn more about this study, visit AOL Advertising’s research page at http://advertising.aol.com/ContentFuelsSocial.

About AOL

AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is a premier global media company with a suite of brands and products serving consumers, advertisers and publishers worldwide. The AOL Huffington Post Media Group is a leading source of news, opinion, entertainment, community and digital information comprised of a wide range of destination websites, including AOL.com, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Moviefone, Engadget, Patch, AOL Music, StyleList, MapQuest and Cambio. The AOL Advertising.com Group includes Advertising.com, ADTECH, goviral, Pictela, Video, and Content Solutions and serves a combined content and advertising market at scale through video, brand advertising, content and ad serving. AOL is focused on engaging consumers and providing online advertising services and solutions on both AOL Huffington Post Media Group destination websites and third party websites, in addition to serving consumer platforms including AOL Mail, AIM, about.me, and mobile experiences. AOL also operates one of the largest Internet subscription access services that serves as another distribution channel for its consumer offerings.

AOL Corporate Communications
Diedre Ayers, 212-652-6355
diedre.ayers@teamaol.com
or
Mandy Albers, 212-652-6394
mandy.albers@teamaol.com