Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Ranking a Stream of News - University of Pisa

In the last year there has been a surge of interest about
news engines, i.e. software tools for gathering, indexing,
searching, clustering and delivering personalized news information to Web users.

According to a recent survey made by Nielsen NetRatings, news browsing and searching is one of the most important Internet activity with more than 26 millions of active U.S. users in July 2004. For instance, Yahoo! News has an audience which is roughly the half of Yahoo! Web Search, a third of Google Web Search and a bit more than AOL Web Search, according to NetRatings. This is surprising enough if we consider that, for instance, Yahoo News had an audience of about 13 millions of users in the 2002.

“The Internet complements television for news coverage as it provides a different perspective and greater depth of information - statistics, pictures, interactive maps, streaming video, and analyst comments,” said Peter Steyn of Nielsen/NetRatings. Certainly, recent events such as SARS, War in Iraq, Terrorism Alerts and other similar dramatic events contributed to diffuse the use of on line news search engines.

The huge amount of news available on line reflects the users’ need for a plurality of information and opinions. News engines are, then, a direct link to fresh and unfiltered information.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Online Shopping Takes Off in HK, Says Nielsen//NetRatings

October 12, 2004 (HONG KONG) -- Nielsen//NetRatings reported that the most popular Hong Kong shopping websites received 20% more visitors in the quarter ending August 2004 compared with the corresponding period a year ago.

An audience of 1.6 million people, representing 50% of all at home Internet users in Hong Kong, hit the shops from behind their computer, bringing visitor growth to online shopping sites beyond the overall at home Internet traffic surge level of 14%.

Figures released from Nielsen//NetRatings' Global Internet Trends survey show users are not just visiting the sites, but they are also buying items. The number of Internet users who have purchased something online grew from 5% a year ago to 14% today.

Yahoo! Auctions is the top ranking online shopping Website and saw its audience increase from 325,000 unique visitors during the quarter ending August 2003 to 753,000 in the same period of 2004. YesAsia.com takes second position and earns itself the most popular mass merchandising site with a 16.5% reach among active Internet users between June and August 2004. Its monthly visitor numbers increased from 91,000 users in August 2002, to 110,000 last year, to 237,000 at the end of August 2004.

Peter Steyn, managing director, Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong, said, "Yahoo! Auctions, YesAsia.com and eBay have all experienced phenomenal growth. This shows that Internet users have more faith in Internet security for online payments. They have started to realize how convenient and practical online shopping can be."

Possibly unlike its offline counterpart, online shopping is very popular among men, with 57% of the shoppers being male. Interestingly, figures released suggest the younger the user the more likely they are to visit a shopping Website. 66.5% of Internet users in the 12 to 17 year old age bracket visited a shopping site, compared with 60.5% of those aged between 18 to 34 and just 38% of those aged 35+.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

A Global Audience for a Global Medium - A look at the online news and information audience

Presentation by Peter Steyn, Nielsen//NetRatings

The Internet has changed the way we communicate en masse as well as how we communicate one-on-one. People are increasingly flocking to the Internet, and spending a substantial part of their day online, surfing. The average Internet user in developed countries spends slightly more than 11 hours a month surfing the Internet from home — with Asians known to be substantially heavier users of the medium.

When events of major international significance occur, both locally and around the world, people are turning increasingly to the Internet as the most up to date and comprehensive news source. While television remains an important medium as a source for news, viewers are increasingly relying on the Internet to complement their television coverage — providing more in-depth analysis, statistics, and other interactive features such as chat rooms, instant messaging, streaming videos, pictures, and 3D rotation animations. Most often, television and the Internet are consumed simultaneously. This "dual" and "simultaneous" usage, in particularly during breaking news events, is more prevalent among the younger generation, who are spending much of their free time on the Internet, and not all of them just for the fun of it. The recent Iraq war and outbreak of SARS attracted a significant number of young Internet users to current affairs and news sites.

As an interactive medium, the Internet offers a plethora of opportunities to engage the reader and communicate news in a creative way.

Over the past three or four years, a number of news sites have faded into oblivion, while others have flourished and are now considered leaders in their respected fields. A key ingredient for the successful ones has been access to timely, accurate and comprehensive data that has given them a thorough understanding of their target audience and provided a measure of how successful they have been in reaching them. In addition, collecting competitor intelligence on the Internet has proved easy, accurate and comprehensive.

Data has been available for media such as television, print and radio for many years. In contrast, Internet audience measurement is still in its early phases. The Internet allows for several measurement approaches, including survey research, panel data, server log data, ISP data, and ad-network data, to name a few. This presentation will address some approaches to Internet audience measurement, with the focus on audience panel data. A global "status report" on the internet around the world in major markets will be presented, including the growth of online audiences to news sites with a specific focus on Hong Kong. And as technology allows us to collect comprehensive data about Internet usage, we can now more accurately track ad exposure and interactivity. The final part of the presentation will address ad tracking and online campaign planning through the use of panel data.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Battle for offering better content and package deals heats up in travel sector:

Hong Kong, August 18, 2004 – Hong Kong Internet users are increasingly turning online to plan that perfect vacation or hassle-free business trip, according to the latest information from Nielsen//NetRatings.

During the second quarter ending June 2004, most of the top five travel websites showed an impressive increase in Hong Kong at-home users compared with a year ago. The fastest growing site, China Travel Net Hong Kong* (ctshk.com) increased by 103% to reach 158,000 users. Yahoo! Travel remains the most popular online travel site among Hong Kong's at-home surfers, attracting more than 271,000 unique visitors, a growth rate of 20%.

However, there is no clear answer as to whether increased surfing on popular websites is translating into a significant increase in tickets purchased over the Internet, or whether consumers are simply conducting research online before purchasing offline from their favourite travel agent.

"Hong Kong's travel industry boom in the post-SARS period presents an excellent opportunity for the development of e-commerce in Hong Kong, just as online ticketing has been driving recent Internet business growth in the US," said Peter Steyn Managing Director, Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong. "For this to happen, travel industry players must continue to improve their online service in order to encourage more local surfers to take advantage of the convenience of the Internet – not just to browse but also to purchase goods and services".

Citing the convenience of face-to-face shopping in Hong Kong and the continuing reluctance of people to trust the Internet with their credit card number, Steyn added: "E-commerce faces some additional challenges to building momentum among local consumers, however the latest report shows that traditional travel agencies are boosting their efforts online with positive results"

The Nielsen//NetRatings quarterly review of Hong Kong's at-home Internet users showed that Cathay Pacific clinched the top ranking airline spot with its site receiving 157,000 unique users, an 8% increase compared to the same period last year. China Travel Net Hong Kong (CTN) was ranked number one among travel agencies followed by Wing On Travel and Hong Thai Travel. Hong Thai Travel, which ranked in sixth place, increased its audience by a healthy 19% over the past year. Zuji, the increasingly popular online travel-booking site that didn't even exist a year ago, now has an audience of 149,000 unique for the quarter ending June 2004. Other travel websites that have performed well over the past year include Cathay Pacific Holidays, Airticket.com, Dragon Air, Evergloss Tours, and Morning Star Travel.

Among the top ranking local transportation sites were Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), MTR Corporation, Citybus, Hong Kong International Airport, KCRC, and New World First Bus.

In addition Steyn pointed out that the number of at-home Internet users increased by 34% over the past 3 years while the amount of time people spent online almost doubled during this period. On average, at-home Internet users now spend 35 and half hours online per month.

"Internet audiences have reached significantly higher levels after the travel sector was badly affected early last year," said Steyn. "The question now is whether these gains will be sustained in the longer term and convert shoppers into purchasers.

Qtr Ending June 04Unique AudienceQtr Ending June 03 Unique AudienceChange
TOTAL TRAVEL1,281,0001,170,0009%
Yahoo! Travel271,000226,00020%
China Travel Net Hong Kong158,00078,000103%
Cathay Pacific Airlines157,000146,0008%
Wing On Travel136,000100,00036

Information provided by Nielsen//NetRatings

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Use of Digital Marketing Is On the Rise

Hong Kong, July 23, 2004 - According to a survey conducted by the Asia Digital Marketing Association (ADMA) with the support of MEDIA Magazine, and recent data released by DoubleClick and Nielsen//NetRatings, use of digital marketing is on the rise in Asia Pacific and online activity by users and businesses remains at all time high levels. However, it is clear that businesses still have not tapped the medium's full potential, and it underscores the need for marketers to follow responsible guidelines for online behavior to protect privacy and the ongoing effectiveness of the medium.

77% of the ADMA survey respondents say they utilize digital marketing, 20% spent at least 15% of their total marketing budgets online, and 4 in 10 respondents indicate they have increased their budgets over last year. It's clear that businesses are a long way away from tapping the medium's full potential, with most companies focusing on their websites (80%), e-newsletters (66%) and e-mail marketing (66%), while making less use of search engine marketing (26%) and online advertising (38%). Companies also underutilize their customer databases as a marketing resource: 94% maintain databases, but 50% communicate with their customers only on an occasional basis. 20% of businesses don't seek permission or offer an opt out option for their e-mail marketing, which raises privacy concerns.

"The ADMA survey paints a picture of a medium in development," said Douglas Khoo, who led the ADMA research effort. "There is a large gap in the activity level between the most enthusiastic users of digital marketing, and those companies that are just getting started or are underutilizing their online marketing resources. The growth is strong, but the real potential is for companies to make more sophisticated and comprehensive use of this developing medium."

"It is very encouraging that more and more traditional advertisers are adopting online advertising to reach their targeted audience," said DoubleClick's Managing Director Asia Pacific, Ralf Hirt. "Internet media consumption is up and therefore advertisers want to reach consumers where they actually are. Smart tools and reports make this extremely effective. Online ads are becoming both larger and richer. Online advertising is an important part of every integrated advertising strategy and in fact it is significantly increasing as the advantages are so obvious."

Over the past three years, the number of Hong Kong people using the Internet at home has increased by 34%, while the amount of time spent surfing has almost doubled from an average of 11 hours 46 minutes per person in June 2001 to 22 hours and 38 minutes in June of this year. When time spent using Internet applications such as Instant Messaging or Media Players is included, the average time spent in June 2004 was a phenomenal 35 hours and 26 minutes.

"While some advertisers remain hesitant to utilize digital marketing, in particular search engine marketing and online advertising, the Internet is undisputedly the best medium to reach audiences below the age of 35 living in above average income households," said Peter Steyn, Managing Director, Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong/Singapore. "The latest figures also indicate that eight out of ten people use a search engine, which can prove to be a very effective marketing tool."

"The fact that digital marketing has earned a place in the collection of integrated marketing tools is exciting," said David Ketchum, Chairman of the ADMA. "However, continued growth without responsible use of the medium can potentially impinge on consumers privacy and ultimately cause a decline in its effectiveness. The ADMA urges all marketers to follow industry guidelines for responsible online marketing."

The ADMA guidelines for marketers, as well as anti-spam tips for consumers can be found at www.asiadma.com.

The survey's purpose was to establish the state of digital marketing in the Asia Pacific region and was conducted amongst marketers from varied industries. Questionnaires were emailed to a pre-qualified list of respondents who had opted-in to receive communications. The sample size of the survey is 111 respondents and the survey was conducted in June 2004.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Asian broadband : Is there a business out there yet?

Whatever the future of broadband might be, Asia is the place it’s surely being written. From near-saturation of Korea to the fast growth of China, it has markets in every stage of evolution.

The one common thread is that operators in all these markets are looking for applications beyond connectivity: Wi-Fi roaming, IP TV, VoIP, games and security packages are all part of the mix.

But in a tough and often over-competitive business, the new services are not necessarily bringing home the bacon.

Research house Ovum points out that DSL deployment can reverse the long-term decline in ARPU “but [carriers] should not expect high margins.”

The plus for telcos is that the mass takeup of broadband is changing the way people behave online.

Hong Kong users – of whom 60% have access to broadband – are spending 21 hours per month online, according to Peter Steyn of Nielsen//Netratings. A year ago, that was 16 hours. “Broadband has a huge impact on customers’ behavior,” he says. P2P downloads, video and audio streaming and Internet radio are the big improvers.

The problem with broadband, though, is that it is flexible, scalable and highly efficient: 111 times more efficient than private network options, per megabit per second, according to the ITU.

So while large carriers are focusing on residential customers and apps, smaller competitors are chasing the business market. The combination of IP and DSL could be a lethal one yet for incumbents.