There is a clear mismatch between where brands spend online advertising money and where consumers are actually hanging out, a new study finds.

The big gulf is so-called walled gardens. The report, “The open web vs. the walled garden”, by market researchers The Harris Poll for OpenX, found that while only 34% of consumers’ online time was spent in walled gardens, such as Facebook and Google, this is the area that attracts 63% of ad spend.

The open web, where 66% of online time is spent, accounts for just 37% of online ad dollars.

To examine the disconnect, researchers sought to answer where consumers go for information, what is their state of mind when visiting certain sites or apps, and how do they feel about paywalls.

They found consumers spend more total time on the open web than on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Amazon and they have both more browsing sessions per day and longer sessions.

They say that consumers within walled gardens are six times more likely to have a browsing session less than ten minutes, than consumers using the open web.

More than a third of people say they use the open web more now than they did a year ago.

In fact, 30% of people say they use Facebook less than they did a year ago, compared to just 6% who say they use the open web less.

And these trends are likely to continue – consumers were seven times more likely to say they will increase their use of the open web over the next 12 months than decrease it. A quarter of people said their use of Facebook would fall in the coming 12 months.

People are not only spending more time on the open web, they are also spending their time in a different state of mind – on the open web, 58% or people said they feel “curious and in a mood to learn more”. With Facebook and Instagram, they report they are more likely to be “zoning out and not paying attention”.

High quality content

The open web, researchers found, is where people go for “high-quality content”, and 77% say they trust articles on news sites or apps more than what they read (or see linked to) on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram. More than 40% of those surveyed said Facebook leaves them feeling unhappy, upset or unsatisfied – more than double who say the same about the open web.

When looking for info about a business or products, over 80% of people turn first to the open web. YouTube is, however, the first choice for “how-to” information, and Facebook leads when people want information on family and friends.

When it comes to paywalls, 85% of people say they don’t pay because it removes ads, and a similar majority say they would rather have an ad-supported experience, either on the open web or behind a walled garden, than have to pay for the experience.

Sourced from The Harris Poll