Internet users feel a strong compulsion to click on every ad when they
visit a site for the first time, no matter how irrelevant or
uninteresting they may seem.
The most popular sites are those that ‘talk back’ to users or allow them
to customise an E-mail message or download free software. On the other
hand, ads that offer prizes or the chance to win money provoke user
These are just some of the findings of a groundbreaking study into Net
usage by J. Walter Thompson, in conjunction with the Cyberia Cafe.
The study also found that, perhaps worryingly for international
advertisers, many sites are still regarded as too American or European,
even though they are intended for global consumption.
The study, called Project Iris, was a pilot project carried out by JWT’s
specialist division, InSitu. It was conducted in an naturalistic manner,
which involved using video cameras and microphones to record individual
navigational and search behaviour on the Net and simultaneously record
users’ thoughts and comments about the sites they visited.
The initial study involved a representative sample of 100 Net users in
the Cyberia Cafe.
In June, JWT plans to roll out a more complete version of Project Iris.
This will involve a 12-month study using a representative panel of 2,000
experienced and novice, young and old Net users.
It will include tracking children to monitor how interests and usage
patterns change over time. There will also be an opportunity to extend
the panel across Europe.
James Walker, media development director at JWT, said: ‘A lot of people
have counted the number of users accessing sites. But we believe this
study will reveal how the medium can most effectively be used by