Going Offline

A recent study by the Response Marketing Group showed that 58 percent of all magazine ads contain a web address. For many offline advertisers that have invested in an online presence, tagging a URL onto a print ad has been a very efficient way to drive qualified traffic to purchase or to get more information. In other words, using offline media to promote an online brand is not new.

But it’s important to have a baseline understanding of offline media to get the most response out of any traditional advertising campaigns you might consider running to boost response.

Let’s take a look at some traditional media and examine their direct response capabilities .

National Print Magazines – What’s wonderful about magazines is their synergy with niche audiences. As discussed in a previous column, the web has somewhat mirrored the “narrowcasting” trend of print mags.

If your niche web site sells real estate in the Hamptons, you probably won’t find a network TV show that caters specifically to your audience, but you will find at least a couple print magazines. Print ads also allow for the presentation of a detailed message, so it can help to prequalify prospects that might find your site interesting. Additionally, print tends to have a long shelf life. Many monthly magazines are retained for reference, or simply to just look nice on the coffee table. The longer the magazine is kept, the harder your ad will work.

Television – We saw several interactive companies advertising on the Super Bowl this year (including two companies in direct competition). I think we can agree that this type of a commercial is geared toward something that advocates claim only network TV can deliver – mass reach.

Network TV is terrific for generating a truckload of impressions against a mass audience very quickly. But TV can be bought in several ways – including on a spot basis. If your web presence is geared toward certain geographic markets, perhaps spot TV or spot cable is for you. Cable also presents some interesting options for targeting a specific audience. One K2 client wanted to reach college students in specific markets across the country. An MTV sponsorship provided great reach against that target, without blowing tons of cash on a network spot.

Newspapers – I’ve used newspapers several times in support of an online brand. Newspapers can offer the detailed message of a magazine ad, but within spot markets. Many advertisers might not be ready for a full-blown national advertising campaign, but newspapers can reach top 10 or 25 Internet markets pretty efficiently.

In addition, newspapers can help to provide credibility with investors. A well-placed ad with the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal can help a newly public company’s stock price, should that be an objective for one of your clients.

Radio – Radio is a terrific frequency-builder. There’s nothing like hammering home your message a few times while your target is driving to work. The morning drive day-part has become a nice environment for many advertisers with web sites. Even the controversial Howard Stern show has demonstrated an ability to boost traffic to the web.

Radio doesn’t have the shelf life of print or newspaper, but it can be purchased nationally or on a spot basis and it tends to be cheap.

Out of Home – Billboards, posters and signs can be pretty effective. Outdoor media reach prospects while they are away from their television sets and radios. If your web site appeals to commuters, you might try advertising on busses (like AOL), on railroad trains (like Forbes) or on a billboard along the side of the highway (like countless other interactive advertisers). What’s interesting about Out of Home media is that the environment plays a key role in targeting the audience and in developing the creative. Look at DoubleClick’s big “Welcome to Silicon Alley” billboard the next time you’re in New York and you’ll see what I mean.

So take some time this week to think about which traditional media can best suit your online business goals. And if you’re using an advertising agency to help you, think about its experience with traditional media and how a traditional campaign can fit with your online advertising presence.

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