Research Study Illustrates How Newspaper Drives Online Behavior

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | 4:53 PM


Last year, Google commissioned a research study to measure how newspaper readers respond to print ads by going online. The fact that newspaper readers respond via the web is well known to advertisers who advertise in print, and this study aimed to quantify the effect. The study was conducted by Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo, Inc., a third-party research provider, as a telephone sample of 1,003 random adults; respondents had to be regular print newspaper readers who used the Internet and search engines at least once a month.

The first major takeaway was that newspaper readers do actively respond to ads they see in their newspapers. In the last month alone, a whopping 56% of the target market had researched or purchased at least one product after seeing it in their paper:

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The second takeaway was that when readers look for more information on products they see in the newspaper, they rely primarily on the Internet. Of those who said they had researched a product they saw in the newspaper (44% of all respondents),

• 67% conducted research online
• 48% visited a store

• 23% called a store

• 23% asked a friend

Looking more closely at the 67% of respondents who researched online, 47% started their research by visiting the relevant product's website. This makes sense, since newspaper ads normally include a URL.

However, a full 31% of researchers actually began their research by using a search engine. This corroborates the conventional wisdom that print campaigns drive traffic to online search campaigns. Additionally, this finding argues for marketers' maintaining presences in both print and search; it's likely that even if you include a URL in your newspaper ads, a meaningful segment of your customers will respond to the ad by visiting a search engine.

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One final insight regarding the interaction between online and offline media had to do with consumer perception. A significant number of people -- around half, in fact -- said that seeing a product both online and in the newspaper would make them more likely to purchase than seeing the product in only one medium.

The conclusions of this study were in line with the observations of many marketers who successfully blend online and offline, but it's always nice to have numbers to back it up.

Posted by Leo Martin, Print Ads Specialist

Source: "Newspaper Drives Online," 2007, study produced by Google with Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo.