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Online display ads deliver ROI of almost double for brands in UK supermarkets

Tyrone Stewart

Sainsbury'sEvery £1 spent on online display ads delivers an average of £1.94 in sales in UK supermarkets, according to a year-long research project involving Unilever, Nestlé, i2c, Nielsen, Nectar, and IAB UK.

The project tested ads of nine brands – Nescafé, Häagen Dazs, Persil, PG Tips, Magnum, Surf, Maille, Tropicana and Aquafresh – across the desktop and mobiles sites of publishers including The Guardian, Yahoo!, eBay, Gumtree, AutoTrader, and Mail Online.

The purchasing behaviour of people that received ads was compared to those who didn’t receive them through Nectar loyalty card data and Nielsen Homescan data.

“The ‘Holy Grail’ question we get from marketers is what impact does an online ad have on offline sales, and the answer is a very big one as the vast majority of the sales attributable to the online ad happened in-store,” said Tim Elkington, chief digital officer at IAB UK. “The calibre and range of the brands involved in the project gives marketers a reassuring guide as to what their investment in digital will pay back.”

All of the ads carried a Sainsbury’s logo, but were estimated by IAB UK to be 21 per cent as effective at driving sales at different supermarkets. Previous IAB UK research found that 55 per cent of shoppers believe an ad carrying the Sainsbury’s logo would mean that the product is also available at another supermarket. Furthermore, according to research i2c, 38 per cent don’t feel a Sainsbury’s logo would make a difference to which supermarket they purchased from.