I hope that you have enjoyed reading our earlier blog post on the US Entertainment Audience at Microsoft Advertising. This week, we are sharing insights on the US Small Business Audience.
One of the common requests we’ve heard from advertisers is that they’d like to learn more about how to reach small business owners through online advertising. According to SBA.gov,1 there are 27 million small businesses and sole proprietorships in the (they define a small business as one with 500 or fewer employees). Clearly, small business can be big for any company offering B2B products or services. To learn more about this audience, you can check out our Microsoft Advertising study summary here, but for now I’ll delve into three key questions we considered while researching this important but hard-to-reach audience:
- Who are the small business audience & why are they important?
- What do they do online? Through our Small Business Decision Maker behavioral target, we’ll examine share insights about these small biz users.
- How do they react to advertising? We’ll examine findings on impact beyond the click.
1. Who is the small business audience?
Small business is really big. According to SBA.gov, there are more than 27 million small businesses and sole proprietorships in the U.S. In fact, a whopping 99% of all businesses are “small businesses.” 1 Furthermore, it’s estimated that small firms employ half of all private sector workers. 1If you sell products or services for businesses, this is an audience you will not want to miss.
On Microsoft sites, this is a large and diverse audience in terms of both demographics and online visitation. In March 2012 alone, we had more than 9 million users included in our Small Business Decision Maker behavioral target. 45% of these individuals were ages 30-49, and about 51% were women. 2
2. What do they do online?
We found that these users engage with a variety of Microsoft sites, tending to start their days with News and Finance sites like MSN Money, MSNBC and MSN Real Estate and later in the evening hours relaxing with FOXSports and MSN Games.
A Day in the Life of a Small Business Decision Maker Across Microsoft Sites
3. How do they react to advertising?
For those of you measuring engagement through clicks, small business decision makers (like other users) are most apt to click video / streaming media formats. MSN Video, MSN Living, and MSN Money, and MSNBC were advertising sites with the highest ad click-through rates from our small business decision maker audience.
But what about impact beyond the click? We found that with our small business decision maker audience, display advertising can increase their likelihood of performing a follow-up search for your brand. We took several display ad campaigns and compared our small business users who had been exposed to the ads to those who had not. We found that the users exposed to the ads were 203% more likely to follow up with a search on keywords relating to the brand than those who had not.In other words, display advertising can create awareness and entice people to search for you online – even if they don’t click your ad immediately.
The key takeaways from our findings?
- This is a large audience & a big opportunity. Third-party sources suggest that there are as many as 27 million small businesses and sole proprietorships in the U.S. If you choose behavioral targeting, Microsoft Advertising can put you in touch with as many as 9 million small business decision makers monthly.
- This audience engages with a variety of Microsoft sites. Far from being sequestered to a single small business page, our small business decision makers engage with a variety of Microsoft sites throughout their online day. You can reach them of course on MSN Money, but also on MSNBC, FOXSports and MSN Games too.
- Display advertising has an impact beyond the click. Our small business decision maker audience demonstrated higher click through rates on video / streaming media ads than other formats. Also, after a display ad exposure, our small business users were 203% more likely to follow up with a search on the advertised brand than those not exposed to the ad.
For a deeper dive into our study, please visit us here.
Sources: 1. SBA.gov 2012; 2. Microsoft Advertising Internal Reporting, February - March 2012. Note: Daypart definitions (user local times): Early morning = 3 a.m. to 6:59 a.m. ; Mid-morning = 7 a.m. to 9:59 a.m.; Mid-Day = 10 a.m. to 12:59 p.m. ; Afternoon 1 p.m. to 3:59 p.m. ; Evening= 4 p.m. to 7:59 ; Night = 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.