Report: Offline Ads Are Heavy Drivers of Search

While many search marketers understand that there is a connection between online and offline marketing, some may not understand its full extent. According to a new study by Jupiter Research and search marketing agency iProspect, a surprising two-thirds of searchers are led to search on a given keyword as a result of offline marketing.

Specifically, 37 percent of respondents said that in the last six months, a television ad prompted them to conduct a search on a particular company, service or slogan, while 20 percent said a magazine or newspaper ad led them online. Twenty percent said a company’s store drove them online, and 17 percent were influenced to search by a radio ad. A smaller number were influenced by outdoor ads.

Only 33 percent of respondents said they had not been influenced to search by any offline media in the past six months. For daily searchers, the influence of offline media was even more apparent, with only 28 percent of searchers saying they had not been prompted to search by any offline media in the past six months.

“Today, it’s incumbent upon marketers to integrate search with their offline efforts,” said Robert Murray, iProspect’s president. “Quite simply, their offline messaging needs to be memorable and facilitate search, and their search efforts need to echo that messaging and integrate those keywords. The bottom line is that integration is no longer optional.”

The most common keywords searched were company names, or names of products or services mentioned in an offline ad. In 44 percent of cases, the keyword was the company name. To take advantage of this, marketers should prominently feature company and product/service names in their offline advertising, and make sure their sites are organically optimized for those keywords, and they are showing up in search ads on those keywords as well.

If an offline ad features a tagline or slogan, search marketers should also ensure they are showing up in either organic or paid results for that as well, Murray said. “Offline ads have a short window of time to get the message out to the audience. People often tune out ads, but remember snippets of them. That makes search even more important,” Murray said.

Besides driving traffic, offline media tends to drive quality traffic, according to Murray. The study asked those users influenced by offline media if they had ultimately made a purchase at that site as a result, and found that 39 percent had done so.

That 39 percent conversion rate is generally higher than the rate achieved by either search or offline channels alone, Murray said. While the offline ad gets attention and creates demand, it’s search that can harness that demand and drive the potential customer to the company’s site and turn it into a sale, he said.

“Sure, offline channels can drive traffic, but at the end of the day, it’s pretty much meaningless if a purchase isn’t made,” said Murray. “Marketers want to know the pay-off. And the data from this study suggests that search and offline produce extremely impressive results.”

While many marketers are aware of the relationship between online and offline media, it can still be difficult in some organizations to coordinate online and offline campaigns, due to the siloing still present in many marketing departments, Murray said. Many offline marketers don’t want to give up any control to their online counterparts, but Murray has found that laying out the situation clearly can help both sides adopt more of a team attitude.

“Search is no longer an add-on consideration for marketers,” said Murray. “It is front and center. And while it is a powerful channel on its own, it’s clear that its efficacy is multiplied when combined with offline channels.”

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