Digital advertisers are expected to spend $17.70 billion on online and mobile traditional display ads this year, an 18.1% growth over 2013. But are they spending it in the right places?

As we argued in a previous blog post, the way to make paid content spending more effective is to spend it where consumers are most receptive to it, at the moment they’re looking for products or services, which is on shopping sites. New research backs up that assertion, illustrating that effective advertising is as much about consumer intention as it is about attention.

Brands, advertise where consumers are most receptive: On shopping sites

People are more open to advertising when they’re shopping than anywhere else online. Fifty-seven percent of consumers are open to ads while on shopping sites, compared to 47% while on email sites; 25% while reading information, news, or blogs; 22% while on social media sites; 4% on video sites; and only 3% on gaming sites. Craig Tech, vice president and general manager of Aisle A, attributes this receptiveness to consumers’ buying state of mind while shopping:

“[A consumer] is in an active buying mind-set when she is buying [for example] clothes online for her kids, and therefore more receptive to an ad for a family cruise. Similarly, an avid moviegoer is more receptive to a trailer for the next action film when he is shopping for a new TV.”

It just makes sense: People are most willing to receive messages from brands when they’re in buying mode.

Retailers and brands alike, use past purchases and sentiment to make ads more relevant 

An overwhelming 85% of people surveyed agree with the statement: “When shopping online, I’m receptive to online ads for products or services that I am currently considering buying.” But an ad doesn’t have to be for a product the consumer is shopping for at that time in order to be relevant; 62% of people surveyed agree with the statement: “When shopping online, I’m receptive to additional products or services that are relevant to me (even if I’m not currently considering buying them) and targeted to my interests and buying preferences.”

Again, it’s all about relevance. Luckily for brands, retail sites have the exact data needed to prove relevance. Category-level searches show what a shopper may be considering. Traffic data shows which product pages a shopper visited without buying.

Analyze a consumer’s past purchases to suggest complementary products, and importantly, to avoid serving irrelevant ads – a waste of budget for brands and real estate for retailers. For example, if someone has recently purchased a new television, suggesting a DVD player, entertainment center, speakers, etc. is relevant, while ads for TVs will be ignored.

The suggested products don’t always have to be directly related to the purchased product. Past sentiment shows what they like, and that can be used to suggest other things they may like — especially in combination with aggregate data. If a consumer rates a nightly eye cream five stars, and data shows that other women who liked the night cream like a certain body lotion, an ad for the lotion has proven relevance. Brands can prove this relevance even further by including an aggregate rating from a certain shopper segment in the ad – for example, “New moms rate this lotion five stars.” Says Tech:

“With credit cards in hand, the path to purchase during online shopping is a lean forward environment where people are more open to ads for products targeted to them. A shopping environment presents valuable opportunities for advertisers in all categories because they’re reaching active buyers.”

Serving relevant ads based on behavioral data help make push marketing more like pull marketing – which has been shown to be much more successful.

Retailers, take advantage of this new revenue opportunity 

On the web, attention is a limited resource. A site that captures an audience’s attention has something others will pay for, says Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable:

“Attention is the new currency.”

But as these findings show, a consumers’ intentions are as important as their attention. Gaming sites, social networks, and video sites all capture plenty of attention, but the audience’s intentions on those sites aren’t to make purchases – making them less open to brand messages. Brian Solis elaborates on Cashmore’s statement:

“In the digital space, attention is a new currency. We earn it. We spend it.”

And now, it appears, we can sell it. And no site has a better mix of attention and intention than retail sites. Tech agrees:

“Retailers or publishers at the bottom of the sales funnel are sitting on valuable, engaged audiences for advertisers.”

Retailers invite an engaged audience that’s more open to advertising because they’re already buying. Smart retailers will recognize this opportunity to add an additional revenue stream, and allow brands to advertise on their sites – directing shoppers to more of their product pages through relevant ads.