The first study to analyze the combined effects of online, print and TV advertising in a single product campaign found the online component significantly increased the campaign's measurable brand awareness impact, according to Forrester Research.
The study -- a six-week analysis of a Unilever mixed-media campaign for Dove Nutrium bar soap -- concluded that spending 15% of the campaign's TV/print/online budget on the Web resulted in a 24% lift in branding impact, according to a Feb. 15 briefing paper prepared for Forrester's clients by senior analyst Jim Nail with Charlene Li.
The study was conducted in October and November by Marketing Evolution, El Dorado Hills, Calif., in conjunction with Microsoft's MSN, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Advertising Research Foundation, Dynamic Logic, New York, and Dove's agency, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York. During the project, researchers polled 13,000 randomly selected users of MSN.com.
"This study applied media mix analysis and modeling techniques to a live, in-market TV, print and online campaign to quantify the impact of different levels of exposure to each medium on standard brand metrics like awareness, brand image and purchase intent," Mr. Nail wrote in his briefing.
"Basically," he told AdAge.com in a phone interview from his Cambridge, Mass., office, "the findings show that by increasing the online part of the Unilever campaign to 15%, the marketer was able to burn the brand into consumers' minds much better than if they hadn't used an online component in the same advertising media mix."
He noted that "in the past, much of what has been presented as online advertising 'studies' has been little more than propaganda. This one is important because it is the first time this kind of study has been done in a disciplined, credible manner."
A Unilever spokeswoman said, "We are comfortable with the methodology applied to this research since the intent was to evaluate the synergy between online and offline channel usage."
However, she declined to say whether Unilever or Dove will increase online spending in light of the study's findings. She would only say that the marketer plans to "further investigate the benefits of cross-channel marketing and the opportunities that online provides in our marketing mix."
"This survey says that online [media] should be considered in branding -- it's a cost-effective optimization of media planning," said Joanne Bradford, vice president and chief revenue officer of MSN.
The Internet represents 10% to 15% of total media consumption, according to a 2001 UCLA Internet Report. Most marketers spend 2% to 3% or less of their media budgets to advertise to consumers on the Internet, Ms. Bradford said.
Nick Nyhan, CEO of Dynamic Logic, which conducted the online survey in conjunction with researcher Rex Briggs of Marketing Evolution, said the survey results should encourage marketers to revisit the issue of how online might be effectively used in the larger mix in advertising campaigns. However, he also cautioned that the study's findings could not be extrapolated broadly to other brands, even in packaged goods.
Mr. Nyhan also called for further studies that directly compare the results of print, TV and online efforts.
"We can't compare TV and print with click-throughs," he said. "But we can compare online and offline with branding metrics, because a question is a question. So it makes sense to do more cross-media research in that area.
"It's time for the online industry to be compared to offline and see where the chips fall," he said. "In some cases online won't be as good. But they shouldn't be afraid of the comparison."
Tobi Elkin and Jack Neff, AdAge.com. February 20, 2002
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