Exposure to online advertising is fundamentally changing the way consumers shop, according to research from Yahoo! and comScore, which found that those exposed to online advertising tend to research their purchases online before buying, ultimately leading to increased in-store sales.
The study, which examined the impact of search and display advertising on in-store sales for five major retailers, found that these highly-engaged "pre-shoppers" spend an average of 41% more in-store than consumers who are not exposed to online advertising.
Pre-shopping consumer opportunity
Although some research suggests that as many as 89% of consumers shop for information about products online, less than 7% of retail sales actually take place online, according to Amy Vener, senior retail category director for Yahoo: "This means that retailers have a prime opportunity to engage pre-shoppers through online advertising to boost incremental sales in-store."
For example, according to Dave Abbott, JC Penney's vice president of direct marketing, the JC Penney web site was found to be the company's main shopping hub, whether customers are planning to buy online or in a physical store. As a result, the company has focused on developing its online marketing and merchandising programmes to better understand the relationship between customers' online engagement and in-store sales.
Other significant findings of the study included the following:
- Consumers exposed to online advertising are more engaged: Those exposed to display and/or search advertising viewed an average of 6 more web pages during the period in which they were researching compared to those not exposed to advertising.
- Almost 90% of the incremental sales generated by online advertising take place in-store: Consumers exposed to online advertising spent an incremental US$6 in-store for every US$1 spent online.
- Integrated search and display campaigns have the most impact: Combined search and display ad campaigns resulted in deeper engagement for consumers exposed to those ads, leading to increased sales.
The study involved a sample of more than 175,000 comScore panellists and compared the purchasing behaviour of those exposed to online advertising with that of those who were not exposed but who were otherwise behaviourally and demographically identical.