DoubleClick: Web Is Major Awareness Builder for Consumers

Internet marketing is stealing share from television as a medium that creates awareness leading to consumer purchases, according to DoubleClick Inc.'s second annual Touchpoints survey.

The influence of TV dropped in the past year in categories like automotive, movies and electronics. Broadcast dominates only five out of 10 categories DoubleClick measured as the medium with the most influence on the first-learn, or awareness, phase of the purchase process.

Web sites and online marketing have significant influence in driving the further-learn and purchase-decision phases for automotive, electronics, movies, travel, telecommunications, prescription drugs and home products.

The survey found travel Web sites lead in generating awareness of travel, and online ads do the same for mortgages and investments. Direct mail drives credit card and retail banking awareness, and print pushes packaged goods and home products.

Web sites particularly boasted a high degree of influence, often matching or outranking broadcast and print media, according to DoubleClick. Respondents ranked the influence of various factors on the purchase process to illustrate relative impact. Answers were ranked 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest score.

For mortgages and telecom, news and financial sites had the highest impact, ranking at 4.5, followed by company sites at 4.3. In telecom, company sites outranked other media with a 3.5 media score, followed by TV ads at 3.3.

The only category where TV outranked online was movies, scoring at 5. However, online movie reviews have a similar effect as newspaper ads, each ranking at 2.7.

Search engine marketing is growing in importance as well. It is a major factor in complicated purchase categories like consumer electronics and prescription drugs. For instance, 53 percent of the Touchpoints survey respondents said search is how they found Web sites for prescription drugs compared with 7 percent who guessed the Web address.

Search is less used in telecom, a category with a small number of high-category brands. There, 38 percent used a search engine while 36 percent guessed the Web address.

Also, opt-in e-mail marketing is working, DoubleClick said. Nearly half of the surveyed consumers who made a purchase reported interest in or already were receiving e-mail updates about those products or services.

The research found that, across categories, 54 percent of consumers who visited a corporate Web site requested more information, 32 percent of them by e-mail and 6 percent by mail.

Permission-based e-mail has high penetration levels in travel, credit cards and retail banking, and mortgages and investments. It shows even more potential in automotive, packaged goods and electronics.

As expected, a direct link exists between the growth in Internet use for researching purchases and the decline in impact of the salesman. For all categories surveyed by DoubleClick, nearly 40 percent of respondents, on average, said they had decreased their reliance on intermediaries like in-store salesmen or brokers.

The Touchpoints survey was fielded in December, with 2,000 completed responses and a minimum of 200 per product category. DoubleClick worked with GreyGlobal's Beyond Interactive using the Greenfield Online panel.

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