Service Tracks Online Conversion From Offline Ads

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Advertisers are testing a service that tracks Web hits from ads that run in print or on television, radio and other offline media outlets. PrintAd.Info, developed by STG Media Corp., tracks Web site visits -- and the time and city of the visitor -- to measure offline ad effectiveness and determine in which markets the ads performed best.

"Besides product marketers, both the Republican and Democratic parties have expressed interest in PrintAd.Info's ability to track the cities and states that were most responsive to a particular message," said Thomas Lark, president of STG Media Corp., Phoenix.

PrintAd.Info uses a unique URL or toll-free number at the bottom of a print ad to track an offline campaign. It compiles the data using proprietary technology. PrintAd.Info also can track the effectiveness of telemarketing and SMS messages.

One direct response television firm worked with STG to track its print media campaign's ability to drive retail sales and orders to its call centers using a dedicated 800 number. Over the course of three creative tests and rewriting call center scripts, the company raised its conversion ratio more than 500 percent and boosted its return on media investment 150 percent, according to STG.

Though advertisers want to track each ad creative's effectiveness better, some remain hesitant to create separate URLs to track campaigns, said Jack Baker, STG's senior vice president of marketing. Large retailers, for example, want customers to visit their main Web site, not a slightly different URL such as or, in the hypothetical example of a Gap campaign.

"People who understand the importance of tracking get it," Baker said. "People who don't track, don't get it. It's the old mentality versus the new."

Yet marketers are being pressured by executives to provide more data on offline and online campaign effectiveness, Baker and Lark said.

"Our clients want to know how much profit each ad generates," Lark said.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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