URLs Rank with Toll-Free Numbers

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Internet addresses are used as often as toll-free telephone numbers as direct response mechanisms in magazine advertising, according to a survey by Response Marketing Group.

Toll-free numbers and Internet addresses were both used by 58 percent of the sample in the study. Street addresses (17 percent), “bingo” cards (4 percent), email (4 percent), and coupons (1 percent) were also used as direct-response mechanisms in the sample. Eighty-two percent of the ads studied used some form of direct response.

One-quarter of the ads use a toll-free number and URL in their advertisements, and only 12 percent have a URL that exactly matches their phone number. Only 15 percent of the advertisements in the sample prominently display the URL.

The industries most likely to use a URL in their ads were real estate, water, and delivery services. All of the ads in the sample from these industries used a URL (see table).

The study also found that URLs are most often used as response mechanisms in computer magazines (93 percent of ads), news magazines (88 percent), and financial magazines (79 percent). Seventy-seven percent of ads seven pages or larger used URLs, compared with 60 percent of full-page ads. More than half (58 percent) of the premium ads in the sample used a URL.

A similar survey done in September by Response Marketing looked at the use of toll-free numbers and URLs in television advertisements. It found that 19 percent of TV commercials contain a URL. Advertisements during sports programming (27 percent of ads studied) and national news programs (22 percent) were the most likely to have a URL.

A survey done by Catalog Age found that 82 percent of catalogs advertise their URL in their catalog.

The Response Marketing survey of magazine ads was based on a review of 4,066 such advertisements.

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