How to Mix Ad Media for Maximum ResultsHow are consumers finding your business and deciding whether to purchase your product or service? And how should you be spending your advertising dollars?  The answer is not as simple as even a few years ago, but here is a helpful guide through the ad media maze.

Consumers are turning to more media forms  to research their local purchases – an average of nearly eight different media, up from five or six just three years ago, according to research by BIA/Kelsey. Small businesses are stepping up to the challenge, advertising in an average of nearly five media, up from three before.

To stretch your ad budget further, you need to get smarter about choosing how much to spend on which media outlets. Building an effective “media mix” means you are on top of these facts:

  • How many potential customers are actively searching for your product or service in your local area over the course of a year?
  • What media are they using as part of their search?

Market research company TNS conducted a large-scale consumer survey for Dex One to help local businesses answer those questions. Consumers were asked about their purchases over the course of a year and the media they used to make a purchase decision. The results drive one key message home: Consumer behavior varies from one type of purchase to another, so it pays to know the consumers who are buying your particular product or service.

For instance, over the course of a year, here are the percentages of consumers who are looking in all media for these services:

  • Auto Wrecking  1%
  • Painting Contractors 3%
  • Musical Instruments 4%
  • Office Supplies  25%
  • Pizza  66%

Look at those percentages and apply that to your local population and you get a sense of how many leads are out there for your advertising to attract.

Next, take a look at media consumption among those shoppers to get a sense of how many leads you can reach per media form. As it turns out, it varies widely, according to the TNS survey.

For restaurants, coupons are king. Forty-three percent of consumers said they used coupons as part of their dining-out decisions, compared to 29% using online services, 21% for newspapers and 15% using print yellow pages.

For new car dealers, 57% of consumers are using online services, ahead of all other media. That’s no surprise, given the explosion of car shopping sites. But when it comes time for that auto to be fixed, for auto repair shops the action swings to print yellow pages, with 21.4% of consumers using that media vs. 21.1% for online services.

Bridal shop advertising is another business that’s moved heavily to the internet, with 53% saying they had consulted bridal websites. But internet yellow page sites were also used by 20% and television by 24%.

On the other hand, print yellow pages were far out ahead of other media for these businesses: funeral directors, plumbing contractors, automobile and window glass, roofing contractors and electricians.

For some products and services, local shoppers seem to be paying equal attention to many types of media. For example, general contractors (26% print yellow pages, 24 % online services) and carpet and rug cleaners (24% print yellow pages, 22% online services, 24% coupons).

The biggest all-around media consumers appear to be the folks with the most urgent need to purchase a service: bail bond customers. They reported checking print yellow pages 41% of the time, internet yellow pages 34%, other online services 30%, coupons 31% and TV 32%.

Don’t look at the numbers and take the easy way out by placing all your bets on the one form of media with the most users for your line of business. Here’s why: Advertising using only one media will eventually hit a point of diminishing returns. That means you will eventually be spending more money to reach less people. You can be more effective by spreading the same budget across several media types. Plus, ad studies have shown that there’s a reinforcing effect when any ad message is viewed across several platforms.

But it all starts with knowing where your customers search — track that and you’re on your way to blending a media mix that will maximize every ad dollar you spend.


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