Study: Web Ads, Product Information Can Sell Offline Goods

According to New York-based research firm Cyber Dialogue, 86 percent of the Web’s U.S.-based adult population either clicked on advertisements or viewed product information online — and made an offline purchase based on those activities.

According to the firm’s Phillip Barone, who authored the study and who heads Cyber Dialogue’s consumer Internet practice, 20 percent of the respondents said they changed their opinion of a brand based on online information or ads.

The study also indicated that 36 percent of adult U.S. Internet users actually changed their minds regarding an offline purchase decision using product information or ads they saw online. While that percentage isn’t tremendous, the group does account for 55 percent of all Internet-influenced dollar spends — a sizable $53.6 billion.

“The ability to identify these consumers among your user base will provide valuable input for effective, targeted advertising and promotion campaigns,” Barone said.

The study comes as evidence mounts in favor of online advertising’s branding capabilities. Earlier this week, Jupiter Media Metrix released a report concluding that marketers undervalue the potential of Web-based branding efforts.

However, the new Cyber Dialogue study also does a fair amount to safeguard the reputation of the click-through as a measure of advertising effectiveness. In recent months, click-throughs have come under fire as a poor way to measure consumer response to online advertising creative, since (the argument goes) banner creative can have an effect on how a brand is perceived by a consumer without requiring them to click.

Indeed, while Barone concludes that online ads and information can shape brand opinions and purchase decisions, he also describes click-through rates as important since they indicate product interest by high-value and ready-to-buy consumers.

“Online advertising click-throughs are most likely to come from those whose purchase decisions are shaped by online ads or info — and these consumers spend the most,” Barone wrote.

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