Are Online Ads Less Effective Than TV and Print Ads?

Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant


Online AdsGrowing up in the desktop publishing age, I recall trusting the three pioneering companies: Apple, Adobe and Aldus. Of course, those were different and some would say headier times and those three company leaders Jobs, Warnock, and Brainerd are gone, but personally I still trust the remaining companies (Aldus was bought by Adobe).
Therefore, reading a study by Adobe stating that 50% of consumers say that online banner ads do not work and only 3% prefer online ads on social media sites was surprising. Most said that they found online ads “annoying” and “distracting.” The study entitled “Click Here: The State of Online Advertising” suggests that the current thinking about the effectiveness of online ads and social media is exaggerated.
Anytime a study appears that some would consider controversial many people ask how recent the study is, is it a reliable source, and was the research reputable. The study was done between October 8-16 in 2012, the research firm is Edelman Berland and the number of people was 1,250 (all 18 years or older; 1,000 in the general population and 250 were marketing decision makers). Therefore, the source, timeliness, and methodology sound unimpeachable.
“The study is a wakeup call for marketers,” said Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer at Adobe. “We know there’s a tremendous opportunity—online, on mobile, in social—in terms of where consumers are spending their time and money. But as marketers we’ve yet to really break through. Serving customers relevant content, delivering experiences that are engaging instead of intrusive and, just as importantly, measuring what’s working and what isn’t so that we can improve our marketing are all critical. When marketers begin to master these things we’ll turn the corner—consumers will start to notice and we’ll start to capitalize.”
In the article, Adobe suggests that online marketing ads are failing because of their impersonal nature.
This term “impersonal nature” is interesting. For years we have talked about the reason that variable data printing is more effective is because it is more targeted and relevant.
This study prompts three questions.

  1. Do you agree that online ads are less effective than traditional TV and print ads?
  2. If online ads are failing because of their impersonal nature, does this mean that better targeted and relevant online ads will be more successful?
  3. Does this mean that in addition to variable data printing, email marketing, Purls, QR codes, and SMS text that another service marketers may offer in the future is variable data online ads?

Howard Fenton is a Consultant and Business Advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.

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  1. Lenore Bavota November 16, 2012 -

    I agree, banner/print online ads are not effective. Video advertising is proving to be the way to go. Call to action, point of sale, all embeded into the video. Video’s time has come.

  2. Bill Michael November 16, 2012 -

    Lenore – you bring up a very interesting point. Just to clarify, when you say ‘video advertising’, are you referring to the ad that takes up the first 10 seconds of a YouTube video before you are able to skip it?

    I wonder what the data would reveal if a survey was conducted on whether consumers prefer video advertising or online ads. Personally, I find video ads less effective than online ads or traditional TV and print ads. One of the challenges I see with online ads of any sort is that the consumer is driving the content – whether by surfing through different site pages or navigating through online video channels – and has an expectation that the information will appear instantaneously. It’s the need for instant gratification. Any obstruction to receiving that information instantly is usually viewed negatively by the consumer. Whether online ads or video advertising, overcoming the consumers expectation for instantaneous information is a barrier that must be considered. What do you see as challenges for video advertising?

    – Bill (Xerox Employee)

  3. cathlynP March 17, 2013 -

    This article says that print media is still effective: . I think it still is, but online advertising will be its strong contender. However, unless online ads will be more personal, focused, and targeted, print will remain effective.

  4. AITEOBHOR JOSEPHINE March 29, 2013 -

    Online and video advertisement, can easily be kept aside by the consumer. There is no doubt that the print media has the spotlight in the advertising industry. In the case of using online advertising, the aim of the advertisement is forfeited when the consumer dose not open the advert. In online and video advertisement, the consumer is the driving force, he chooses to open or ignore it. Taking for example the print media, when a bill board with an advert copy on it is placed on highly commercial roads, it will draw the attention of the passers by. they don’t necessarily have to do any thing to get the information written on it, all they have to do is just look, and the necessary information has been passed across. the print medium is like buying food in a restaurant, it is already made so u just come and eat. Unlike the online and video advertisement which could easily be distributed either by network or electricity respectively. AITEOBHOR JOSEPHINE. CALEB UNIVERSITY IMOTA LAGOS.

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