Commentary

URLs Boost Magazine Ad Response

Advertisers seek to drive consumers to their websites as the Internet becomes a more important element in their marketing plans. As a result, web traffic and search results are increasingly regarded as measures of marketing success.

New research from Affinity confirms that magazine ads with URLs are more likely to drive readers to advertiser websites overall, as well as across a range of genres. Even if "drive to web" is not the goal of the advertising campaign, including a URL to boost web visits is a benefit most advertisers will appreciate, says the report.

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The VISTA research is based on an analysis of 833 ads in seven different magazines representing six distinct magazine genres:  

Magazine Ads Driving Readers To Websites (Index)

 

Ads Without Web Address (Index 100)

Ads With Web Address Included (Index)

Home

100

203

Financial

100

122

Fashion

100

152

Men's

100

138

Travel

100

286

Source: Vista/MPA, July 2009

The research from VISTA reinforces earlier work. Marketing Evolution aggregated nine studies that had quantifiable data on web visits to examine how magazine ads contributed to building web traffic. Findings showed that when the URL was included in the magazine advertising creative the percentage change in website visits tripled (from two to six points): 

Percent Visiting Brand Website

 

Pre-Control

Post-Control

Point Difference

No URL included

5%

7%

2

URL included

13%

19%

6

Source: MarketingEvolution/MPA, July 2009

Both pieces of research underscore the importance of accountability for magazine advertising creative. A number of initiatives have shown that creative quality is the most important factor in affecting advertising results, although media engagement also plays a role.

To strengthen marketers' "drive to web" efforts, Magazine Publishers of America has complied independent research that documents how various online and offline media influence consumers' online behavior, including: 

  • The role of media in driving online traffic, search and purchase behavior 
  • The role of media in driving consumer response to online video ads

The research includes both third-party surveys from the American Advertising Federation (AAF), BigResearch (for the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association), Mediamark Research, Inc., and the Online Publishers Association, as well as a new quantitative analysis from the research and consulting firm Marketing Evolution, that shows the impact of magazines in affecting web visits, examining results throughout the purchase funnel.

Overall conclusions of the compiled data:

  • Offline media perform well in driving web traffic and search, often better than online media, even when URL addresses are missing or not prominently displayed in offline ads
  • Media synergy is important, though each medium influences online behavior differently and plays a distinctive role
  • Looking at qualified search, those consumers ready to make a purchase, paints a different picture of media usage than total search, which is most often the focus of advertisers
  • When looking at the role individual media play in driving web results, magazines most consistently drive web traffic and search

In addition, conclusions from quantitative analysis:

  • Magazine ads had a major impact on building web traffic
  • Magazine ads generated web traffic at each stage of the purchase funnel, especially purchase intent
  • Including a URL in magazine ads significantly increased web visits www.magazine.org /accountability

And, from an earlier study from the AAF:

Effectiveness of Media at Driving Consumers to the Web

Medium

Effectiveness

Magazines

26.0%

Broadcast TV

17.8%

Cable TV

16.4%

Newspapers

13.7%

Radio

11.0%

Out of Home

8.2%

Other

6.8%

Source: ICOM, American Advertising Federation (AAF) 2006, July 2009

Finally, in support of the trend to Interactive marketing spending, a recent Forrester report, US Interactive Marketing Spend, 2009 to 2014, shows the expected growth:

Interactive Marketing Ad Spending ($ in Millions)

 

2009

2012

2014

CAGR (%)

Mobile marketing

$391

$950

$1,274

27%

Social media

716

1,649

3,113

34

Email marketing

1,248

1,676

2,081

11

Display advertising

7,839

11,732

16,900

17

Search marketing

15,393

24,299

31,588

15

Total

25,577

40,306

54,956

 

% of total ad spend

12%

17%

21%

 

Source: Forrester US Interactive Ad Models, 4/09 & 10/08, July 2009

To read more about magazine accountability, please visit here.  For a compilation of relevant studies by MPA, please visit this site for a PDF file. And the Forrester report may be found here.

3 comments about "URLs Boost Magazine Ad Response".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, July 21, 2009 at 3:32 p.m.

    I see such a waste of money on the social media. People on social sites want to be social and are willing to be brand/product ambassadors but no one wants advertising because they view it as personal space. Plus since it is so easy to have entry to this market the social media world is becoming over saturated with options. Once Google Live comes out Facebook will see the same decline as Myspace and so on and so on.

    I am also curious about this study because if you have internet I seriously don't see why the URL is important since a 2 second search on Bing or Google gets you to where you want to go.

  2. Britta Meyer from Loomia, July 21, 2009 at 3:44 p.m.

    Great data, thanks, Jack! I'm mildly surprised that magazines so clearly outperform TV when it comes to driving traffic to the web, as well as mildly concerned that our obsession with accountability might drive us number-crunching marketers even deeper into campaigns driven by questionable metrics with limited relevance for campaign success.

    The good: It's good to hear offline media are driving online traffic, just like online campaigns are driving in-store sales, simply because it proves the concept of true interactivity and validates the right for online and offline media to co-exist.

    The bad: The supposedly infinite measurability of online media really resulted in a campaign-unhealthy focus on CTR as the key engagement metric, which is fine if your goal is to generate clicks and not sales. The much discussed disgrace of the online display ad, though proven to strengthen brands and drive search, clearly is one of the more famous victims of this trend.

    The possibly ugly: What motivation do users have when they go from magazine ads to the advertiser's web site? What other ways could they take to accomplish the same? Which page will they visit and how qualified will their visit be relative to the campaign goal?

    The possibly beautiful: If marketers are able to appropriately weigh web visits as one of many effects of magazine ads, and are clear about the correlation with the campaign goal, then this is a good metric for campaign success.

    It won't address the fact, though, that consumer behavior is fundamentally changing, their decisions are influenced differently and therefore, the contribution of a web visit as part of the funnel is the nut the marketer really needs to crack.
    http://twitter.com/Britta_SF

  3. Jim Rowbotham from Fifteen Degrees Advtg & Digital, July 22, 2009 at 11:11 a.m.

    Print media, whether magazines or newspapers, give the reader the advantage of perusing ads or stories as quickly or slowly as he or she wants, without the distraction of incoming emails or various online glitches or distracting visuals. I can take a magazine to the beach, or the dinner table, or on public transit, and read/process articles/ads as I wish. If the piece is of interest, it's torn out of the publication. The value of offline synergy with online is simply not recognized by many people. It should be, as it certainly works.

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