Magazine Ads, Articles Play Big Role In Online Searches

While retailers know consumers are devoted to online product searches, a new survey from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) finds that traditional advertising--especially in magazines--plays a big role in directing those searches.

The poll found that 47.2% of shoppers are most likely to start an online search after viewing a magazine ad, while 43.7% said reading an article was most likely to send them surfing. TV ads (42.8%) came next, followed by newspaper ads (42.3%).

There were also gender differences. Women were more likely than men to be motivated by both coupons (41.8% versus 29.0%) and in-store promotions (29.0% versus 24.5%). And word of mouth inspired more of men's searches: 36.1% of men's searches were inspired by a face-to-face conversation, compared to 29.5% of women.

The poll, which included more than 15,200 shoppers, also turned up some insights about the way consumers share what they have learned online with others. "After searching, online consumers said they are most likely to communicate with others about their search through face-to-face discussion (68.9%), although e-mail (53.1%), telephone (50.9%), and cell phone (30%) communication were also popular choices," RAMA says. Young adults (18-24) also say they send IMs about what they've learned (37.5%), text message (23.7%), and use outlets like online communities like MySpace and Facebook (20.6%).

While traditional media may spark searches, the poll also affirms that online communication is huge for retailers. According to the survey, 92.5 percent of adults "regularly or occasionally" go online before making a purchase. Electronics continue to be the most researched category (50.8%) followed by apparel (31.9%), and appliances (27.0%).

"When it comes to advertising, retailers always need to be careful not to put all of their eggs in one basket," RAMA says in a release. "While search engine marketing continues to be a popular strategy, retailers should not lose sight of traditional advertising channels to promote products and services."

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