One of the problems for advertisers is they do not really know whether their campaigns are truly effective. Take TV advertising as an example. Advertisers who spend millions on a TV campaign will often report increased sales following the run of adverts. But what they do not have data on is whether the increase in sales was due to the advertising campaign, the word of mouth created by the adverts or by the press coverage the campaign received. In other words, TV advertising can work, but no-one is really sure how.
Even when it comes to print advertising, you can’t be sure if your increased market share was due to the adverts themselves or other coincidental factors – like the fact that when a company has a major ad campaign running it tends to change the behaviour of sales staff too. It might be the fact that the sales team is performing better that leads to increased sales, rather than the impact of the advert itself.
Online, of course, it is much easier to test advertising and to measure its impact. You can directly measure clicks on any online advert and follow the pathway taken by each individual, helping you work out exactly how to present your online material for greatest impact, the best conversions and so on. However, rather like TV advertising, many online advertising campaigns are likely to have a more subconscious effect. We might not even click on the advert, but have been made subliminally aware of its contents. Then, when we are in a bricks and mortar store and see the item we become more aware of it.
But this is an advertising effect which is difficult to measure. There is no online analytics software which can easily track your customers’ offline buying behaviour and how that links to your online advertising campaigns. You can do some “tricks” to help you understand – such as the use of discount codes or exclusive deals for online shoppers who turn up in a store. But the data is only an indication – you still do not know precisely and accurately what is driving customer behaviour.
So, it is lucky then that a group of academics have attempted to measure the offline impact of online advertising. And the study makes for happy reading if you advertise on Google. The research found that adverts on Google do have an offline impact. In addition, there was a higher transaction rate amongst people influenced by advertising on Google than people exposed to other forms of advertising.
In other words, advertising on Google has a dual effect, it seems. Firstly it spills over into the offline world – its impact is not just online. And secondly, this research suggests that when you advertise on Google you attract a higher conversion rate than if you use other forms of advertising. So not only do you influence people in more than one setting, you also make more of them buy. Perhaps it is time to look again at online advertising.
- Online advertising is best if it is local not global (grahamjones.co.uk)
- Facebook advertising – Test if you Like it. Test if you don’t! (marketing.yell.com)
- Tried and True Techniques for Fusing Offline and Online Marketing (hubspot.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+