Report shows impact of online on offline sector

Just how well can online and offline advertising be effectively integrated, and how much impact can one have on the other? Research released this week from Hitwise suggests that the potential impact can be powerful and that online advertising can maximise the effectiveness of all media spend. It also offers evidence on how online marketing can help raise brand awareness.

The Media Impact Report, published jointly by digital media agency i-level and Yahoo! Search Marketing, compared offline and online advertising from Orange, Sky and the AA over a six-month period.

An online and offline advertising push for Sky led to a 20% increase in searches for the Sky brand, while searches for the Sky website more than doubled. However, this increase in searches was not repeated when the same offline advertising ran without any online support.

In addition, banner advertising for Sky’s high-definition television service led to more searches for "Sky HD" rather than "HD" alone, indicating that the banners and word-of-mouth advertising used to promote the product helped consumers make the connection between the Sky brand and the product.

The importance of integrating pay-per-click campaigns with offline promotions was also highlighted by a press campaign for Orange that promoted a specific mobile phone model. According to Hitwise, it led to an increase in searches for that handset.

Similar effects were found in television advertising. There was a 70% increase in the share of internet searches that included the AA brand alongside the keywords "car insurance" during a period of substantial television spending from the company. The campaign also had a "halo" effect, leading to an uplift in searches for both "AA loans" and "AA breakdown cover" during the course of the campaign.

It might seem obvious that offline advertising would encourage people to do more online, and potentially spend more online too. But without definitive data it is difficult to know just how big an impact it can have. Using the internet to measure effectiveness, as opposed to traditional telephone surveys, can be a much quicker way of finding out exactly what impact the campaigns have, points out Hitwise vice-president of research Heather Hopkins.

Many advertisers also fail to buy the relevant search engine keywords associated with their campaigns, which means consumers struggle to find the relevant website when they later go online to find out more information.

The bad news for them is that more in-depth research by Yahoo! in France indicated that failure to take that step actively irritates consumers: 36% of people who couldn’t find an advertiser’s site said they had a less favourable view of the brand name, product or service as a result.

"You have got to have a search campaign if you are going to have a television campaign. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t," says Stephen Taylor, managing director of Yahoo! Search Marketing in Europe.

To carry out its research, Hitwise compared offline and online spend data with information relating to website visits, search terms and clickstream analysis.

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