Online ads change consumers' shopping behavior: study

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Exposure to online advertising is fundamentally changing the way consumers shop, according to a new study from Yahoo and comScore.

The study examined the effect of search and display advertising on in-store sales for five major retailers.

The study found that consumers exposed to online advertising tend to research or "pre-shop" online before making a purchase and that this behavior leads to increased in-store sales.

Pre-shoppers are highly engaged and spend an average of 41 percent more in stores compared to consumers not exposed to online advertising.

Consumers exposed to online advertising are more engaged as they viewed an average of six more pages during the period in which they were researching, compared to those not exposed to advertising.

Almost 90 percent of the incremental sales generated by online advertising take place in stores, and consumers exposed to online advertising spent an incremental $6 in stores for every $1 spent online.

In addition, integrated search and display campaigns have maximum effect, as they resulted in deeper engagement for consumers exposed to those ads and led to increased sales.

The study, conducted between April 2006 and January 2007, involved a sample of more than 175,000 comScore panelists. It compared the purchasing behavior of those exposed to online advertising with the behavior of those who were not exposed but who were otherwise behaviorally and demographically identical.

The goal was to examine the lift of in-store purchases of those exposed to online advertising compared to those not exposed and to understand the incremental effect that online ad exposure has on offline sales.

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