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Off line advertising
Do off line ads work to pull web visitors

 2:45 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm thinking about placing ads offline to pull visitors to my website, but my roots are strictly online. Anyone have experience placing offline ads in newpapers or magazines suggesting readers go to their website and buy something?

I'd appreciate hearing about any experiences, positive or negative.



 2:54 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I did somthing like that once, i was crazy back then.

I have a bunch of pron sites. Once i made 1000 a3 size flyers with a kaned lady on it.
Of course the website url was good visible on the poster.
Then i went out and spread these posters over town.
All i got was a warning from the city stating: your flyer is taking the drivers attention of the road. Do not put flyers in those places again or we will take legal action.

This was the stupidest thing i ever did,

PS my revenue stayed te same that month. So it was useless.


 3:12 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)


You bring up an interesting point. I've tried magazine advertising with no results. Over the next 2 weeks I will be having an article I wrote printed in out local paper (with a plug for my website) and I expect a short term surge then falling back to normal levels.

With this in mind, (magazine and newspaper advertising doesn't convert well...), it could be a gold mine.

Lets reverse your question for discussion purposes. "Do websites work to get people to buy magazines?" I think the answer is 'yes'.

Feel free to disagree, but for the sake of argument, let's go with this for a moment. With my analogy, we see that websites=sell and magazines don't do that well. So what are we left with? Well, it occurs to me that there are many many magazine advertisers that are buying magazine advertising that doesn't convert very well. Same with newspapers.

Someone is getting paid for that advertising. A LOT of money, usually. And yet the conversion rate is very low. Now, if one were to contact some of these advertisers and point this out....well it would occur to me that they'd jump at the chance to get better conversions for their advertising dollar. Even at 10% of the cost of 'traditional' advertising, the web is a better deal for most (not all) advertisers.

I realize there are a lot of holes in this analogy, but it holds enough water to make a point. It's all about money. Who has the money? What are they spending it on? Is it returning the value (ROI) they expected?

In many cases, the web is a better medium for that transfer of money. It's all the same money-it's just coming from different sources.


 3:40 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

We advertise in several places offline with varying results. On one outlet, when the advertising comes out, 75% of the visitors from that advertising come the first day, 20% the second day, and 5% the third day. After that it's useless. I was able to estimate those numbers way back when, when our visitor counts were small enough that blips were more pronounced.

Even though the new non-IE browsers mess up favicon.ico counts, one thing I'd do is look at what happens to your bookmarks on the days and weeks your advertising comes out. That will be a rough indication of the staying power of your ad. Some ads of course bring a lot of visitors but few repeats. Others bring few visitors but mostly repeaters, and those that convert repeatedly.

If you can help it, don't run your offline ads in parallel, run them on separate days or weeks. A lot of people like adding additional text to the URL, like if you see a Dell ad, and then they tell you to go to dell.com/tv , that enables Dell to measure that. I don't like that and I don't do it, figuring that I'm trying to confuse the least amount of people and keeping the URL as short as possible, and the URL that I want them to remember is the true one, not one with some arbitrary directory that's made up.

We've had better experience with magazines than newspapers. The narrower the scope of the magazine the better. Never run the same ad twice, and make sure that the new ad you run is better than every ad in the previous issue of the magazine. You're fighting for attention, and a really good ad just takes more of your time, but it doesn't cost you any more money (except the value of your time). Even better, advertise where there are few or no other advertisers. We like to approach publishers and push our luck, where we'll ask for things some of them might very well give us. If readers aren't expecting an ad someplace, and all of sudden one shows up, it has more staying power.

So maybe narrowed down, one rule is don't go by the rules that other advertisers in your industry go by, keeping within ethics and good taste of course.


 7:20 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've tried magazine advertising with no results.

I'm afraid I did not understand this part. How did you state so emphatically that your magazine ad did not get visitors to your site? Let me rephrase that... How do you measure the performance of magazine ads? How do you find out the number of visitors to your site who came through the magazine ad? Did you run some kind of survey?


 7:31 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here's a recent, small scale test. One of my clients set up a dedicated page for some print advertising they did. It ran in a 10,000 circulation magazine that also featured a full, non-paid article about the client.

The dedicated URL got 17 visits the first week after mailing and 3 visits the next.

The magazine also has an online version, where the client bought an ad which linked to a different URL. The result? 380 clicks during the first week, and 320 the second.

My current assumption is that offline may be good for image or branding purposes, but it doesn't directly drive much direct traffic, unless you're giving something away.


 7:47 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

set up a dedicated page

And that answers my question too..


 7:54 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

They can work very well or not, but like anything else measurement tells the story.

If you don't measure, you never know what works and what doesn't.

A wise man once said: "He who knows not, that he knows not, is a fool"... and destined to repeat mistakes, over and over again.

[edited by: fathom at 8:55 pm (utc) on Oct. 26, 2002]


 8:08 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

John Wanamaker (founder of a chain of US retail stores) is credited with the saying "I know that half of my advertising is working - I just don't know which half."

He would have loved the web.


 8:30 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've noticed that TV infomercials invariably list a website. But they still push the toll-free number most prominently -- partly because of the upselling that their operators are trained to do, I'd guess.

I'd love to get my hands on some of their data.


 8:40 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I use it on business cards, letter heads, and trinkets that go to members. Does it work? Possibly, but I am not tracking it. It's one of those ancillary benefit of advertising.

In print the best results came form articles written about my site, then by articles written by site members mentioning us, and then the above...


 9:14 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have a client that does a particular offline marketing campaign.

When I started working with them two years ago -- I tried to ascertain what was working.

Based on the evidence available - they spent $20,000.00 dollars on the last such campaign and made $1394.00 (or about a 93% loss).

They were determined to do the exact same thing again, against my professional advice (and did).

They did cut some expenditures, down to around $15,000.00.

... return - $1,200.00 -- don't figure!

If you don't succeed the first and second time... try, try again (their motto).

Needless to say... they wanted to do the exact same thing again.

Why... that's what everyone else does!

You really can't do the exact same thing... and expect different results.

[edited by: fathom at 9:14 pm (utc) on Oct. 26, 2002]


 9:14 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I advertised in magazines, with an extremely low response (around 20 per click!).
There must be some statistics somewhere, but you have to think that online stores are overwhelmingly found online!


 9:22 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sort of off-topic...but within the realm of the discussion:

I got an email yesterday from someone looking for a magazine related to my website industry....go figure. (Using a website to find a magazine vs. using a magazine to find a website.)


 9:32 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

fathom where they looking for sales or marketing?


 9:36 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

fathom where they looking for sales or marketing?

They wanted it all!

marketing, promotion, sales, branding, 100% total domination!

Learning Curve

 8:37 pm on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've tested a lot of advertising for a regional product. In my particular situation, they ranked from most expensive to least expensive per action; direct mail (targeted), print (classifieds), radio (sponsored local NPR station), TV (local niche show), ads in local e-mail newsletters (not targeted), Google Adwords, and SEO.

The local e-mail newsletters met my cost per action. Unfortunately, there are very few local e-mail newsletters, I've only found three in my area that accept advertising. I wish there were a lot more of them.

AdWords, however, had an even lower cost per action.

(BTW, I couldn't get Overture to be cost effective for me! Maybe I should try it again.)


 8:50 pm on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I couldn't get Overture to be cost effective for me! Maybe I should try it again.

It depends on the niche - and whether you arrive in the middle of a bidding war. I have one keyword area that spent the last half year in the bidding stratosphere. Then in mid-October with all the same players, the bids just tumbled.

I couldn't make the ROI work out at 1.50 per click. But at the current 0.28 per click, things are hunky-dory (imagine that kind of price swing!) I always had hope, though, because the Google AdWords rates were never all that high.

So I just played along with the Overture game, staying active as a bottom feeder to learn the territory and polishing my titles and ad text -- and making the occasional preemptive undercut bid. Happily for now, it looks fiscally sane.

So I'd advise watching and choosing your moment for another run at Overture. If you can make the advertising niche work out on Google, it can usually work on Overture, too.


 6:27 am on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you are a pay per click search engine advertiser in general and Overture advertiser in particular, I have one simple suggestion - don't get involved in bid wars.

Know the conversion rate of your website, set your bid price and forget about it.

For example, if your product sale price is $10 and your conversion rate is 2 percent (100 visitors = 2 sales = $20 profit), you will break-even when your bid price is $0.20 per click.

Set your bid price to $0.10 per click and leave it. If you are not getting enough traffic at Overture, go to Google AdWords. Not enough traffic here again? Go to FindWhat.... and so on.

You can also increase traffic (without hiking bid price) by writing creative ads (to improve CTR) and by bidding for a larger set of keywords.


 2:30 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

For example, if your product sale price is $10 and your conversion rate is 2 percent (100 visitors = 2 sales = $20 profit), you will break-even when your bid price is $0.20 per click

I assume that you mean profit of $10 when you talk about sales price of $10? ;)


 3:23 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

I was speaking to a friend of mine who is the vice president of a bank. She was telling me that you are lucky if you get a 2% feedback on a mailing campaign. Apparently the best source of offline customers is

1. Word of mouth
2. Through Parnerships

It was some valuable advice I have now diverted my marketing guy to concentrating on finding partners who can send us customers.

I also advertise in very specific magazines and have had some good reults. The difference between my business and others is that my average sale is in the hundreds of dollars. If you are doing small stuff it may not pay off


 3:42 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just like any form of advertising, Print media takes atleast 6 insertions or more to get your message through to people. That is why cross media advertising works so well.

Tips for purchasing magazine advertising:

You need to be very selective to which magazine that you advertise in. If they wont give you added value, tell them you are going to their competitior. If they don't have a competitor, tell them your going to a newspaper. Play with them, you will get results!

At no additional cost you should be able to;

Place an advertisement on their website for the duration of the campaign. The size and location of course will have to depend on what size of a print ad you take out.

Be included in their email newsletter and or a one time mailing to all of thier subscribers.(if they have one, if they dont ask why not!)

You have to remeber that these magazine ad saleman need to eat, and in most cases will do anything to make you happy enough to place an ad.

And in return; you can write a nice little testimonial about the results of your campaign URL included :-)

Side Note: I am currently running a local campaign for a new magazine that spans across newspapers, magazines, radio and local websites. So far so good, I have made my money back, just over half way done the campaign.

The most response is coming from the radio. At $25.00 for 30 seconds, its been worth it so far! Web second, print third. As for the print, you got to factor in that I have been able to send a email to subscribers from a local magazine, and have been prominately featured on all websites that ran my print ad. They have been the source of over half my web responses.

The most common response when asking someone where they heard about us .... All over the place, or everywhere



 3:43 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Target - Target - Target

We have a site selling First Communion apparel. Each year we:

(1) Locate cities in the USA that have a high Catholic population. (Some sleepers - Green Bay,WI 71%, Buffalo, NY 48%)

(2) Place cheap text only Pennysaver(and of that ilk) ads regularly in all those cities 2 months before the first communion seasons of September and May.

FIRST COMMUNION DRESSES at low prices direct from distributor. Visit us at WWW.XXX.COM.

(3) Place annual order for new car.


 3:50 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Very few of my clients can afford off line advertising for the site, but some use it for their products. For those already using off line advertising, the cost of adding the web addy to the adds is negligible.

If client wants to advertise the web site, some factors weight in :

The cost of product/service (the higher the better)
How local is market (the smaller the better)
How specialised is market (niches are better)
How strong is competition (the higher the worst, but if competition do it, it's a must)

Off line advertising can aim very accurately at a single geographic area.
It can also do good on niche markets for print.

But usually, when my clients see the first quaterly report (with estimated cost per visitors), they tend to remanage the enveloppe. PPC and SEO gets a way larger share when they see the numbers.


 3:52 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Tube advert work the best for offline advertising of websites. People have time to write the URL down.

For other types of adds use any keywords
(that you have number 1 ranking for in google) very prominantly. People tend to forget www.red_widget.uk.com but may well see the ad and then go to google and type in red widgets! Make sure not to advertise for a competitor by mistake!


 4:44 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Offline advertising, what I've learnt.

1.Make sure all your ads are traceable, if it requires that they (the prospect) send something in the post, have them send it to a department that does not exist. And then log the account on a sheet of paper with the source being whatever magazine your ad appeared in. Equally do the same with a URL: subdom with a magazine name in the title and then run a stats tracker on that with a robots to stop any spiders. This will give you some kind of data to monitor effectiveness.

2. Going back a few years now, it seemed that most of the mainstream magazines were advertorials, accordingly more coverage for more money spent on advertising. Expect text and no-more for trying to get a freebie.

Hope that helps.


 5:53 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

For tracking advertising I always use alternate URLs. That way, I'm not doing a redirect, the client doesn't have to remember a long URL. This allows me to quickly change marketing campaigns but track everything. Similary in concept to a doorway page for offline marketing but on a TLD level. It works pretty well.

I am involved in the real estate industry where margins are low but dollar amounts are high. Its also EXTREMELY competitive. Any decent keyword at overture will cost you over $1.00 easy with some over $2.00. My clients engage in a lot of old-world marketing including direct mail, magazine/newspaper, tv, radio, and traffic points (bus stops, billboards, etc).

Here is what I have learned over the 5 years I've been doing this. Offline advertising is incredibly deceitful in tracking. The consumer who gets branded by your billboard 20 times in the week might not go to your website for 3-4 months. At which ponit in time, they may not remember your URL but rather your catchy slogan or your company name. So it's real important to make sure that and branding text you have in your offline advertising have some SEO work done so if a consumer tried to find you, he/she will.

Therefore, offline metrics are a bit inaccurate. I can tell you though that even paying $2.00 CPC generates a higher ROI than ANY print / radio / tv advertising. Traditional advertising is there for the long haul, branding. For some industries, home buying for example, the value of branding is questionable. For others, such as the fast food industry, its invaluable.

My 2 cents.


 6:02 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

I love my magnetic signs


 6:33 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

I haven't run ads in magazines, but my site has been mentioned or reviewed in a fair number of national magazines and newspapers, and I've never seen a significant bump in traffic except for the time Bill Machrone made a very nice comment about my site in his PC Magazine column. That gave me a nice boost for about a week. (Of course, I have no way of knowing how many of the visitors clicked through from the online version of PC Magazine. I suspect the percentage of online readers was fairly high.)

On another occasion, I was interviewed by a major news radio station in Boston on a specific topic, and my page views for the article on that topic went up by a whopping 5 over their normal level.

Now, if you accept the premise that an editorial plug is more valuable than an advertisement, it's hard to put much faith in the idea that print advertising--or broadcast advertising, for that matter--will drive Web traffic.

That doesn't mean that magazine advertising is worthless. It simply means that you probably shouldn't run magazine advertising if your primary goal is to build traffic on a Web site. If, on the other hand, you're running magazine ads for other reasons (such as building a brand or generating inquiries for a unique product or service), it obviously makes sense to display a URL prominently in your company's ad.


 8:47 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> generating inquiries for a unique product

Well, let me be specific ... would advertising an online source for Viagra in a pennysaver type newspaper in a retirement community have a good chance of generating decent ROI? Or how about Propecia for hair loss in a middle age yuppie community?

And would the local "authorities" or pharmacies and medical practicioners get their back up seeing these kind of ads in print in their local paper?

My proposal would be to set up a unique URL that is easy to remember and direct people there with a prominant 1/8 or 1/4 page print ad.

Any experience or thoughts to share?

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