Advertisers See Offline Results from Online Efforts

More and more research is showing that online marketing moves offline sales and brand perception. Advertisers are responding.

In a study released in April, DoubleClick and Information Resources concluded that six of eight brands tested showed sales increases as a result of online advertising. And in November, Dieringer Research Group’s American Interactive Consumer Survey pronounced that 40% of adults studied changed brand opinions based on Internet information.

“There has been a lot of skepticism about whether online could drive offline,” says Don Marshall, director of communications at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. “The light-bulbs are going off; advertisers have gotten smarter and realize it’s a real smart way to reach people.”

Lately, iVillage visitors have been greeted with an ad for Kellogg's Special K. Women.com browsers have seen ads for Nabisco’s reduced fat Wheat Thins and Triscuits. And last year, Colgate-Palmolive made a concerted effort to employ rich media and email newsletter ads as part of its $60 million launch for tooth whitening product, Simply White.

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“[Consumer Packaged Goods] has always been on the cutting edge of marketing science,” comments Nick Nyhan, president of research company, Dynamic Logic.

He points to the automotive industry as another aggressive user of online media. “They’re willing to make investments over the long term,” notes Nyhan in reference to a vehicle sales cycle that can last up to twenty years. Brands such as Chevy and Toyota have invested in online efforts like games and interactive research tools. Last year, Mercedes-benz was the first to sponsor Salon.com’s premium content. And of course, BMW’s short film series has become legendary in the ad world.

Other industry segments including Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals and Entertainment have shifted dollars online. “Each category has specific needs and must learn the unique value of the Internet within the marketing mix,” adds Dynamic Logic’s VP client development, Jeffrey Graham.

It’s not just the brands that are doing it, but the retailers themselves. “It’s a way to quickly rationalize online marketing without the big investments in backend structure or ecommerce,” observes Jack Feuer, executive director, HBR Interactive, a division of full service ad agency Hanft Byrne Raboy & Partners.

Charged with building a customer database for Goody's Family Stores, HBR made a printable coupon the overwhelming focus of the apparel chain’s site. A new email coupon was sent to registrants every two weeks thereafter, and each coupon featured a barcode for post-purchase tracking. HBR and Goody's found that customers who redeemed the coupons tended to spend at least 50% more per total shopping basket than those without coupons.

The Web’s ability to target zip codes and demographic segments is also key for retailers. WashingtonPost.com ran a campaign targeted to clustered zip codes for a furniture retailer with a challenge: prove that an online-only campaign running on WashingtonPost.com exclusively can increase sales by $200,000 dollars on the worst sales day of the week, Wednesday. By the second trial, the goal was exceeded. “When you’ve got clients picking up sales of $200,000 dollars a day, word gets out,” boasts Dave Beaupre, director of strategic partnerships at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. The publisher is working currently with thirty different retailer clients.

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