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Who would have thought that nearly 40% of online searchers make a purchase after being influenced by an offline channel? You would expect some influence, yes, but that significant?

That’s exactly what the results from a recent iProspect study looking into offline influence on online search behaviour indicate...

But there’s more for digital marketers to digest. Unfashionable offline is effective in its own right, and much of offline is converging with online. For example, more people listen to digital radio on PCs and TVs than on their radios according to OMD Metrics. People watch television with a laptop and mobile to hand. And it cannot be too long before RFID technology in mobiles interacts with electronic billboards and then to the web.

After all, Japanese customers of mobile operator DoCoMo have been using the FeliCa chip in a mobile wallet for years. They pass their mobiles over ticket readers in exactly the same way that Londoners pass their Oyster Cards over underground ticket readers.

It is only a small step from the mobile to the ticket reader, and from the mobile to the billboard. Good reason for digital marketers to get familiar with offline media.

So to the future, as we travel escalators in underground stations, it is likely that electronic posters will interrogate our RFID-enhanced mobiles as we pass by. Permission-enabled of course.

Electronic billboards will display advertisements appropriate to our interests. Retailers will be able to offer variable pricing based on time of day. And mobile operators will be able to generate retailer footfall by advising mobile users of retailer offers nearby.

And the technology? It’s available right now. The missing ingredient is merely the commercial model to make this brave new world a reality.

Back to the offline present, there are obvious synergies between TV and the internet. Although the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers state that television advertising spend in 2009 accounted for 21.9% of the total, versus the internet’s 23.5%, that’s not the end of the story.

Television may no longer be the medium of default, but it still returns an average £4.55 sales for every £1 spent. That’s a better average return on investment than for any other medium. Depending on the product, service and audience, knowledge of TV strengths and buying currencies can give the digital marketer serious competitive advantage.

Then, there’s radio. It offers the ability to target locally or nationally and different stations offer definable audiences at specified times. Although most listeners are engaged in activities other than listening, whilst listening, advertisers reach listeners at key “touchpoints.” But the thing to know about radio is that it is shown to be a big multiplier of the effect of other media advertising.

Take print. There are so many publications to appeal to practically every niche and market sector. In the UK, there are over 4,800 business publications, over 3,200 consumer publications and over 1,000 customer publications. And with traditional newspapers as well as free papers, the mass market can be reached easily. Print co-ordinated with online campaigns can boost the online effect massively.

And finally I return to Outdoor. 95% of the UK’s top advertisers use Outdoor. They spend just under £1bn annually. So if you want to target clubbers, bankers or brokers; the young or the old; the fashionable or the scruffy, London Underground offers a captive audience of around three million people a day.

The iProspect study asked users what prompted them to search online for a particular company, product, service or slogan. The results were:

  • Television advertisement: 44%
  • Word of Mouth: 41%
  • Magazine/Newspaper Advertisement: 35%
  • Radio: 23%
  • Billboard: 13%

These figures provide a signpost to digital marketers. They show the importance of knowing the strengths and compatibilities of all channels, buying currencies and means of measurement. Offline needs to be considered as part of any marketing mix.

So to the question, who would have thought that nearly 40% of online searchers make a purchase after being influenced by an offline channel? The answer is top digital marketers.

So let me invite you to join some of them at Econsultancy’s one day course on Offline Marketing Principles - An Introduction on 18th March. In addition to covering the principles of marketing, it will also cover TV, Radio, Print and Outdoor.

Richard Walker

Published 11 February, 2010 by Richard Walker

Richard Walker is a trainer for Econsultancy and director of training at Walkerstone. You can follow him on Twitter and connect via LinkedIn.

2 more posts from this author

Comments (15)

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Sean Gorman

Really interesting article. As a specialist recruitment consultancy, we use both offline and online channels. We’re continually analysing the effect of each channel separately and then together. At one end of the scale – online - we look at CVs posted, viewed and time to job fulfilment. We also analyse our offline activities such as networking and how this encourages job seekers to our online localities. It’s a challenge to see what works best and our motivation, like that of most professional recruitment businesses is to achieve superior client satisfaction. Keep these blogs coming!

about 6 years ago

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Vishal

Fascinating stuff, and a good wake up call for small to medium sized businesses that they should not neglect the benefits of offline advertising.

about 6 years ago

Dominic Geary

Dominic Geary, Managing Partner at Carat (Leeds)

Good article Richard, I’m not surprised at the findings though, offline marketing has always influenced online consumer behaviour but the difficult bit is measuring it! Interestingly, we’ve looked at how brand search volumes are closely linked with the level of offline media investment for brands.

However, understanding which element of offline media is driving online behaviour is the challenge as, unfortunately the offline world isn’t as trackable as online. Although, we’ve had some success in isolating offline media channel contribution.

We’ve done this by implementing a number of on/offline tracking and measurement tools and fusing the data together to get an overview of how all media works together. This enables us to better understand how different multimedia campaigns work and integrate.

about 6 years ago

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Mark Logan

Thanks for posting this, Richard. The link you provide goes to a study on search and online display media. There's a 2007 study on iProspect's site about offline advertising and search. Is there a more recent study that I'm not seeing?

about 6 years ago

Richard Walker

Richard Walker, Director at Walkerstone Limited

Hi Mark, I have gleaned information from a variety of UK and US sources to produce this information and I refer to the iProspect headlines, study data and of course the study itself where relevant. They haven’t updated the original study. However I am contining to collate more data with the intent of writing about the results soon.

about 6 years ago

Richard Powell

Richard Powell, eCommerce Professional at Freelance (Directrix Digital)

I've seen better online sales from intregrated multi-channel, than single channel campaigns consistently over a few years.

I don't know the costs of all of the offline components so can't comment on the ROI of multi-channel vs pure online.

about 6 years ago

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Adrian Yearwood, New Media Manager at Tottenham Hotspur

Good article Richard, Having worked in environments where offline and online marketing have been run by independent departments it is refreshing to see evidence of the need for them to work together.

Brands that will achieve the most moving forward are those that fully understand and buy-in to the need to evaluate channels on their own merits and how they interact, contribute and influence the performance of others and the business goals.

Dare I say a taking a true Multi Channel approach underpinned by attribute modelling to find the right blend.

about 6 years ago

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Sean Barton - e-Commerce - Banking

Good article - it's not about offline vs. online but about balance, i.e. driving efficiency through employing budget at the optimum levels. It is quite clear that offline marketing contributes significantly to driving online traffic and subsequently sales - the difficulty has always been measuring what the actual metric effect is...specific web URL's hold a large margin of error in that some people will use search engines to look for the brand and if using the specified URL will invariably type only the primary URL reference to reach the site, ignoring the, e.g.  www.mybrand.co.uk/offer reference. If anyone has any effective methods of more accurately tracking offline to online driven volume then I would love to hear from you.

about 6 years ago

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john

I am very much interested and to know more with the one you have mentioned about FeliCa..Please help me here.

about 6 years ago

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john

Internet is yet the cheapest way of marketing and advertising.

about 6 years ago

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Des Carr

First of all, apologies for joining this conversation so late and no doubt events and research have moved on.

As expressed by others, an excellent article by Richard and good to see research which confirms the need for marketeers to always remember that our clients and customers use different media at different times in different ways and so it is always important to keep a multi-channel, online/offline, holistic approach.

As someone who has worked in marketing at agencies, as a client and media supplier, my only comment on the research is that door to door marketing was not mentioned.    Door drops, letterbox, D2D or whatever you wish to call it offers broadcast marketing to all 26 million homes and businesses in the UK, or can now target down to street- or postcode sector level.  DVDs, CDs, swipe cards and product samples can be delivered alongside the usual leaflet, brochures and catalogues.

Most important, as digital marketing becomes more location based, door to door is perhaps the only medium which can reach people in their homes and drive them online in a planned way way for optimum location-based datacapture. By sweeping the UK's homes and businesses in a planned way street-by-street, postcode sector by sector, borough by borough and city by city with coded or versioned items, digital marketeers can start to really connect peoples' PCs, tablets, laptops and smart-phones with their postcode.

over 5 years ago

Richard Walker

Richard Walker, Director at Walkerstone Limited

Des, Many thanks for your comments; they're certainly appropriate during this current focus on joined up marketing. I also agree with you about the importance of location based marketing and door to door.  

over 5 years ago

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Isabella

Hi Richard,

very interesting articel!! I am writing my thesis about this subject (the challenges of offline marketing of an e-commerce) and it would be great to have the actual study which you are refering to. Would be great if you can send it to my e-mail?

Greetz from Berlin,
Isabella

over 4 years ago

Richard Walker

Richard Walker, Director at Walkerstone Limited

Hi Isabella, I'll dig out the study and send it to you. Good luck with your thesis.

Best wishes,

Richard

over 4 years ago

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james trotter, marketing assistant at colour graphics

This is a really good article and is still relevant today. We continuously stress the importance of offline marketing for businesses.

See below an article we have written on a similar topic: https://www.colourgraphics.com/blog/offline-marketing-must-even-google-says/

Please feel free to use the info in this article.

9 months ago

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