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February 03, 2008

Where do you look when you want to buy?

If user penetration and usage were all that mattered in marketing, television would get all the attention and budget.

But it doesn't. Depending on who is being targeted, when, and at which stage of the consumer buying process, a range of media could be considered most effective. The popularity and influence of different media can also change over time. A few recent studies illustrate this point.

Advertising inserts are still influential when it comes to making purchasing decisions, according to the Vertis-commissioned "Retail 2008: Media" study, conducted by Marshall Marketing & Communications.

More than one-quarter of US adults surveyed said that inserts had affected their buying decision, down from the 30% who said so in 2004.

"This research proves advertising inserts and circulars are a valuable marketing tool, even in a day and age when consumers are constantly being bombarded by marketing messages,” said Scott Marden, director of marketing research for Vertis.

The bigger story is that the same number of respondents (26%) said that they turned first to the Internet for purchasing decisions. That was up from the 15% who said so in 2004.

Vertis specializes in advertising inserts, so it is not surprising that that medium came out on top among respondents. However, other studies back up the Vertis data.

In December 2007, BIGresearch studied media that influence purchases. The independent company, which often conducts studies for the National Retail Federation, asked respondents about the type of media that influenced purchases of specific product types.

Newspaper inserts were very influential on electronics purchases, with more than three out of ten respondents saying inserts had affected their buys. Only word of mouth and reading articles were cited by more consumers.

More than two out of ten respondents said that Internet and e-mail ads had a similar effect.

Inserts, Internet and e-mail ads were all far down the list when it came to automobile purchases, however. About 12% of respondents said that newspaper inserts influenced their purchase, compared with about 10% for Internet ads and 7% for e-mail ads.

Word of mouth, reading articles and TV all held far more sway with respondents.

This isn't a revelation. Multimedia campaigns exist for this very reason. Similarly, segmentation and targeting of specific consumers at precise lifecycle and buying stages are meant to make the best possible use of budgets.

But it is easy to lapse into complacency when considering the best media for a campaign. Given that the "best media" change both over time and depending on the types of goods being marketed, it is important to keep current on those media.

For more information at http://www.emarketer.com

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