March 31, 2003, 12:00 AM

Online marketing is winning over the product researchers

TV and word-of-mouth are still effective means to initiate product awareness. But consumers are starting to prefer online advertising, e-mail promotions and search engine marketing to gather buying information, DoubleClick Inc. reports.

When it comes to initiating consumer awareness, the top methods are still TV advertising and good old word-of-mouth. But when it comes to additional information to help consumers decide what they’ll actually buy, their preferred sources are often online advertising, e-mail promotions and search engine marketing, DoubleClick Inc. says in a recent study.

Doug Knopper, vice president and general manager of online advertising at DoubleClick, says marketers must be careful not to over-rely on traditional advertising media but figure out which medium works best for carrying out particular marketing strategies in each product category. “The purchase process that we were taught in Marketing 101 has been radically altered by media consumption shifts of the past decade,” he says.

DoubleClick, which reported the results in its “Touchpoints” survey, based on 1,800 respondents evenly split between males and females, adds that interactive marketing is effective in meeting consumers’ needs for information in several product categories, including products typically sold only offline. For example, 70% of respondents said downloading coupons online would compel them to try a new food product.

The study notes that interactive marketing is among the top three influencers of “further learning” and purchasing decision stages.

The study also notes that 22% of consumers get e-mail for health and beauty products, but an additional 25% would like to receive such e-mail; for prescription drugs, the comparable percentages were 13% and 25%, and for consumer electronics, 17% and 26%.

Nearly half of consumers would like to receive e-mail messages for most product categories, the study says, but less than half of them receive it.

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