Study Finds Print Ads More Effective Than Web Banners

Newspapers and magazines are driving more users to Web sites than online advertising, says Bernadette Tracy, president of, a consulting firm in New York. “I would advise Web sites to spend more advertising dollars in print publications,” she says.

Tracy’s firm surveyed 1,000 Web site users across the U.S., who spend at least an hour online every week, excluding e-mail. The survey found that 39% of consumers said they had visited Web sites after seeing ads in magazines and 29% after seeing ads in newspapers. Twenty-seven percent of Web surfers said they visited sites after seeing ads on the Web.

The survey also finds that sponsored sections on Web sites are far more effective for driving traffic to advertisers than banner ads. “If you’re in the car business, I’d recommend sponsoring a special car section on a newspaper Web site, just like car dealers sometimes do on radio stations,” Tracy says. “Our research shows that’s an incredibly effective means of driving traffic.”

Tracy recommends that newspaper and magazine Web sites come up with special seasonal sections that local retailers can sponsor. “Do a fall fashion section on your Web site, or a back-to-school area,” she says. Smart local retailers will clamor to sponsor such sections, Tracy believes.

 Print classifieds still in trouble

Web users are turning to online classifieds more and more often, the survey finds. Overall, 17% of the respondents said they no longer use print classifieds. More alarmingly, the survey finds that the more experienced the Web user, the more likely he is to abandon print classifieds.

“The ‘newbies’ are more likely to still use print ads, but more experienced Web users are more likely to look at classifieds online,” Tracy says. This trend obviously doesn’t bode well for print classifieds; as users become more comfortable with the Internet, they’ll turn to online classifieds in increasing numbers.

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