August 22, 2008, 12:00 AM

45% of marketers don’t integrate online and offline ads—and they should

Two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey said offline ads such as TV and direct mail drive them to search for a company online. But a follow-up study finds that almost half of marketers don’t integrate their search ads with their offline ads.

About two-thirds of respondents to a 2007 study from search marketing firm iProspect said that offline ads such as radio, TV and direct mail drive them to search for the same company online. But a new follow-up survey from the firm found that almost half of search engine marketers don’t integrate their search ads with their offline marketing campaigns.

“We saw this strong correlation in our 2007 study between online and offline and we said ‘Let’s see what marketers are doing about it,’” says Robert Murray, president of iProspect. Murray says he was surprised when he found many marketers don’t think about tying together the two channels.

67% of online consumers polled in the 2007 study said they researched a company on the web that they were exposed to in an offline ad, and 39% of searchers said they ultimately purchased from the retailer they searched for.

However, a follow-up report released this month sponsored by iProspect and conducted by JupiterResearch, found that only 55% of search engine marketers integrate search campaigns with at least one offline channel.

Of the companies who do integrate search with ads off the web, 34% tie search to direct mail and 29% to magazine and newspapers. TV and radio tie for last with 12%. That is despite the 2007 study showing that TV is the primary offline channel for driving consumers to search for a company online.

As for the reasons why marketers don’t integrate their channels, 19% blame lack of budget, 15% cite lack of human resources, 13% did not consider integration, 11% say the idea was not supported by senior management, and 11% say different teams manage offline and online marketing. 24% say they do not advertise offline.

Murray says integrating online and offline marketing can be as simple as including a URL in a radio spot or in a direct mail piece. 84% of search marketers in the most recent study who integrate marketing do so by listing their web address. Another integration technique is using the same keywords in offline campaigns as in search ads, Murray says. Only 26% of marketers surveyed use the same words or phrases online as they do offline.

For example, an insurance company may buy the keywords “insurance quote” or “lowest insurance quote”, Murray says. If it does, it should use this messaging repeatedly in its TV, radio and direct mail pieces, as well as on its landing pages and throughout its web site. Consumers my not remember the name of the company in a 15-second radio spot but the key words could stick with them.

“Integration can be very simple. It can be a matter of walking down the hall to share data. Offline marketers need to speak with online marketers,” Murray says. “The CMO needs to break down those silos.”

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