New Yahoo! comScore Study on Shopping Behavior

The Yahoo! comScore study released this week reaffirms that shoppers who pre-shop products on the Web in fact purchase more at off-line stores. The study, which was designed to identify whether of search and display advertising had an impact on in-store sales was conducted during April 2006 to January 2007. This large study involved a sample of more than 175,000 comScore panelists and five major retailers including major national department stores, a major apparel retailer and a major supplier of office products. The study used behaviorally and demographically similar panels to compare the purchasing behavior of those exposed to online advertising with the behavior of those who were not exposed.

The results showed that consumers exposed to online advertising tend to research or ‘pre-shop’ products online prior to purchase. This behavior ultimately leads to increased in-store sales. The study also found that ‘pre-shoppers’ spend an average of 41 percent more in-store when compared to consumers not exposed to online advertising.

To those familiar with current retail shopping behaviors or tracking the growth of online retailing will not find these findings surprising. Although online sales continue to grow, they remain just a fraction of in-store retail sales; however, exposure to online advertising has increased dramatically. Logically, exposure to this volume of advertising has to have an impact, but the impact’s dimensions were not spelled out previously.

The Yahoo! and comScore study showed that:

Exposure to online advertising resulted in increased consumer engagement resulting in consumers viewing an average of six more pages during the period in which they were researching compared to those not exposed to advertising.

Incremental sales occur off-line with almost 90 percent of the incremental sales generated by online advertising taking place in-store:

Consumers exposed to online advertising spent an incremental six dollars in-store for every one dollar spent online.

Integrated search and display campaigns create maximum impact leading to deeper consumer engagement and increased sales.

As the use of the Web and familiarity with search advertising has grown, search and online display ads are fulfilling a demand generation function similar to what used to occur with other media. For search marketers this study presents a strong case for using search ads in combination with display campaigns. The study also strongly highlights the need for more thorough online to offline results tracking so that demand generation is accurately sourced and the lift in store sales generated by these online efforts can be quantified and their value accurately assessed.

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