How Long Will Advertising Remain More Effective Online Than Off?

A new study by Simmons, a unit of Experian Research Services, indicates that people who view TV ads online are way more engaged with those ads (and with the content, too) than when they’re viewed on a TV set. As Experian’s John Fetto says in a MediaPost article, “Web sites that are extensions of properties that exist in other media channels have great potential to funnel audiences that are highly engaged in the first place.”

Makes sense, of course. And that’s why I’ve always thought that magazines, most of which serve to segment people into pretty distinct groups according to their interests, should be able to survive the current print ad swoon—if they get their act together online. Indeed, the study says the same trend holds, though to a much lesser extent, with ads and stories in magazines, which our ad people no doubt will be thrilled to hear. As the article notes, “among those who read magazines, it’s the most engaging medium.” The problem, though: “Overall, the audience for print media is declining.” Yeah, I’ve been noticing that.

But as much as it’s apparent that most media is going online, I can’t help thinking that this greater attention on the Web won’t last indefinitely, at least not with ads in their current form. (And of course, Facebook, Google, and many others are coming up with all kinds of new ad formats to make them more effective.) As Nate Anderson at Ars Technica asks, “How long will it be until the serpent of consumer overstimulation does to the new medium what it has already done to television ads?”

Bingo. Not too awfully long, seems to me. The more advertisers can avoid simply running online versions of print ads, the better off they’ll be in the long term.

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