Study: Web Ads Work for CPG

Online advertising can positively impact shoppers’ perceptions of consumer packaged goods (CPG) products, according to findings from DoubleClick and CPG market researcher Information Resources Inc. .

A new study by the firms, announced Wednesday at the Advertising Research Foundation’s annual convention, gauged the impact of five CPG manufacturers’ advertising for eight brands — and found growth in brand awareness, message recall and sales.

The research, conducted using Dynamic Logic’s Ad Effectiveness measurement service, indicated that that online ads increased offline sales by an average of 6.6 percent: two brands in the study saw no increase, while one — a brand with a new line extension — saw an increase in sales of 22.5 percent.

Four of the eight brands saw increases in unaided brand awareness, ranging from 1.8 percent to 23.9 percent, while six showed significant growth in aided message recall.

The most surprising finding is that the ads used in the study were banners — which are steadily losing ground (both in prestige, and in real-world deployment) to larger, more obtrusive and more rich-media friendly ad sizes. Jupiter Media Metrix found last month that the new formats — rolled out last year by the Interactive Advertising Bureau — account for almost 1 out of every 10 ads on the Internet.

“Not only does this research dispel the notion that people ignore banner ads, but it shows that online advertising can impact the most important measure — sales,” said Brian Murphy, senior vice president at Information Resources. “This research should shift the debate from ‘does it work’ to ‘how can we maximize the impact and ROI of Internet advertising within the marketing communications mix?”‘

The identities of the study’s participants — representing beauty care, personal care, laundry products, beverages, frozen foods, confectionery products and culinary brands — were not disclosed.

While conducted in part by DoubleClick — which has an obvious interest in promoting Web advertising — the study continues efforts by other online advertising players to illustrate the branding power of Internet ads to CPG firms — one of the biggest-spending sector of advertisers.

In a February study endorsed by the IAB, Microsoft’s MSN portal worked with Unilever’s Dove brand to record the increase in brand favorability and intent to purchase due to an online campaign. Additionally, the results also suggested that if more money had been shifted into online media from offline buys, the results would have improved further.

“This comprehensive study on multiple CPG brands not only builds upon previous studies showing that online advertising works for branding, but takes it to the next level,” said Doug Knopper, vice president and general manager of Advertising Solutions at DoubleClick, of the newest addition to the industry’s canon of research. “We can now show the industry that sales transactions actually occur as a result of branding gains.”

The work also builds on an earlier research alliance between IRI and New York-based DoubleClick. In 1999, the firms undertook a study that found that banner advertising for impulse food products could have a positive effect on short-term sales volume. Dynamic Logic and DoubleClick, meanwhile, have long been collaborating on research. In December, DoubleClick sold the Ad Effectiveness service to Dynamic Logic, striking a partnership and taking a stake in the firm in return.

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