DoubleClick's fourth annual Touchpoints survey findings highlight the importance that consumers attribute to the internet in generating awareness and as a source of information for purchase decisions.
The Touchpoints IV survey (pdf) reveals that consumers are more likely to "view through" an online ad than to click on one. A "view through" refers to a visit to an advertised website after the visitor has seen an online ad - but without having clicked on the ad, instead navigating directly to the site. The view through can occur moments after seeing an ad, or days or even weeks later.
Respondents said they were twice as likely to notice a web ad, not click on it, but visit the advertised site later (61 percent) as they were to click on an banner ad to reach a site (30 percent). An even greater number said they sometimes see an online ad and later check out the product in a physical store (67 percent).
"It is no longer a surprise to learn that the Internet is a key driver of awareness, learning and commerce," Rick Bruner, research director at DoubleClick, said in a statement. "What is striking though, is that many marketers may be under-calculating the complete value of their digital marketing if they fail to measure view-throughs and offline purchases driven by online marketing. The ROI of digital marketing may be deeper and richer than previously imagined, which is good news for CMOs everywhere."
The DoubleClick study examined the sequence of how consumers first learn about products, how they further learn about them and which factors most influenced their purchase decisions. Consumers were asked about their online and offline purchases in the previous 12 months in 15 categories: automotive, banking, credit cards, investments, mortgage and loans, air travel, hotels, rental cars, telecommunications service plans, consumer packaged goods (personal care and household care products), apparel, consumer electronics, house wares and furniture, movie tickets, and prescription drugs.
Some18 percent of respondents in the Touchpoints IV survey said they were most influenced in their decision to buy a new product or service by research they did on a website. That is greater than the number who cited seeing the product or service offering in a brick-and-mortar store (15 percent) or word of mouth (14 percent).
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Some 43 percent of Touchpoints IV survey respondents reported watching video online -the most popular emerging media activity included in the survey, and equal to the number of people who text-message via cell phone. Online video is more popular than use of portable MP3 players (38 percent). Some 14 percent of respondents say they watch movie trailers in online ads "all the time" or "frequently," and nine percent play with interactive web ads that often as well.
Purchase behavior varies considerably by industry. For air travel, hotels and rental cars, the web overwhelmingly dominates as the most influential factor in decision making; TV ads play an extremely important role in promoting movie ticket sales; and in more service-oriented verticals, such as investments and telecommunications, word of mouth was particularly important - and the top response in the first-learning and purchase-
Online ads valued more for ongoing learning than discovery, according to the survey results. Unlike other media, which showed relatively consistent percentages of consumers that valued the media for initial discovery as for ongoing learning, consumers seem to value online ads a source of further learning much more than as a source of discovery.