By Stephanie Oehlert, Media Director, Gragg Advertising
Looking back as few as 15 to 20 years ago, the majority of people answering a direct response ad simply called the phone number provided. The next phase in response to direct response ads brought call tracking phone numbers. It is essential in direct response advertising to be able to measure your return on investment. Advertisers could identify what source generated the bulk of their customers by what phone number they called. Improvements could be made to fine tune the advertising schedule based on what performed the best.
Advertisers included their web address in the ads, but then relied on the respondent identifying where they heard about the company on their website to track performance of different Media sources. This evolved to some advertisers using unique URLs in their advertising. A combination of call tracking phone numbers and a unique URL in your advertisement gives you the best opportunity to track the effectiveness of your media sources. However, as consumers usage of the Internet has increased, their quest for knowledge and comparison shopping has also increased.
The way audiences consume media has changed over this period of time also. While media activities used to be consumed one at a time, today’s consumers are utilizing multiple media sources all at the same time. A study by Harris Interactive found that while online, 68% of people were also listing to CDs/MP3s, 57% were also watching TV and 45% were listening to the radio. People have been raised and trained to multi-task. It certainly makes and advertiser’s job more difficult to track investments down to the penny. We have always known that a multi-media mix raised overall reach and that certain media, especially television, had an impact on other advertising sources. The more awareness a consumer had of a company, through exposure to multiple media sources, the more likely that consumer would be to respond. This fact, in combination with the consumer’s behavior adapting to consume multiple media sources at the same time and search for more information before making decisions, has led us to where we are today.
Even with tracking in place, we know there is an impact that traditional media has in driving online response as well as non-media and overall lead flow. There is a growing number of people that will not call the phone number in the advertisement or use the unique URL listed, but instead they will search online for the product or service by name. Once upon a time these people would look in the Yellow Pages, but now they go online. If they have not remembered the school by name, they may do a search for the program they are interested in. This typically will generate results for Pay Per Lead, School Search portals, SEM and school websites. A study by Jupiter Research indicates the following statistics for offline Media driving online search:
Following this same train of thought, our company, Gragg Advertising, who specializes in the Career School industry, examined 50 different clients’ data over an eighteen month period. We found that television spending had the largest impact on overall lead flow, website leads and non-media leads. Print spending had the largest impact on pay-per-lead in the school search portal category and also had impact on overall lead flow. Overall offline Media spend directly impacted online lead flow, non-media leads and overall lead flow.
Our findings were corroborated by the statistical findings in the Jupiter Research. Their study showed that 66% of those who responded to an offline advertisement visited the website or a search engine to learn more, while only 14% called a phone number from the advertisement. of those responding online, 70% did so in response to television advertising. To break the data down further, we can see a pattern with the younger demographic that has grown up with computers in their household. Younger consumers are less likely to respond to offline ads: 25% of 18 to 24 year olds visited a company’s website when the URL was featured in an offline ad, whereas with consumers age 25+, 39% visited a company’s website.
Because of the lower costs advertisers are seeing with online, many advertisers are shifting their budgets to online. It is important to have an appropriate balance between offline and online spending. Without the offline stimulus driving the online response, there may be a lack of demand in search and online leads. It’s important to measure results at different levels of spending and see how your overall customer acquisition costs and conversion rates change at each level. This type of smart budget planning will position your company to gain where others don’t. It is also important to understand that every different audience segment has different response behavior. It is crucial to an advertiser’s success for them to offer many options for response and track the results.