Digital channels have been hot in marketing for years: measurable, new, integrated – they tick all the boxes. But the big question, as countless marketing managers have been asked by their CFOs or CEOs – does online advertising actually work?

The answer, according to IAB Australia’s Research Council, is yes, at least in the area of online advertising. Research conducted by Nielsen found that online advertising not only brings about an increase in brand measures of purchase intention and consideration, but also converts directly into sales numbers.

As part of the study, Nielsen evaluated a digital-only campaign for Listerine Zero and found that product sales were lifted by 11% due to online advertising. At the same time, next to in-store viewing, online was also found to be the highest used source for retail research, being used continuously through the purchase decision-making process.

These results show that there are various opportunities where advertisers can reach and influence consumers online, from initial research, to evaluating alternatives, right through to purchase and post purchase evaluation. It also found that mobile devices are being used to access the internet during the decision-making process as well as on the shop floor at potential point of purchase.

The research found that the Listerine campaign, which reached 44% of online consumers aged 25-54 and 36% of the total online population in NSW, increased a number of brand equity measures with significant increases seen for awareness, consideration and sentiment for the Listerine brand, as well as even more significant increases for awareness, recommendation and purchase intent for Listerine Zero.

Lillian Zrim, associate director of insights and innovation of Media Australia at Nielsen says: “For some time now, research has shown that online advertising can have an impact on brand equity. The results of this new study prove that online advertising can not only increase such brand measures as consideration and purchase intention for retail advertisers, but also have an impact on actual in-store sales. Given that consumers are using online media at many touch points in their retail decision making process, and these findings prove that online advertising can convert to actual sales, it clearly demonstrates the importance for all retailers to consider the full potential of online advertising in their marketing mix.”

According to Paul Fisher, CEO of IAB Australia, online brand advertising is playing an increasingly significant role in moving products or brands into consumers’ consideration set.

“This research and case study provides yet more clear evidence that online advertising should be considered in the marketing mix for retail campaigns. It clearly demonstrates its positive impact on brand equity measures and in particular online advertisings’ ability to convert interest to actual sales,” says Fisher.

Belle Kwan
BY Belle Kwan ON 25 October 2011
Assistant editor, Marketing magazine & marketingmag.com.au
A marketer's dream who believes everything she sees on TV.
Advertising is not evil, it is an artform and a science.