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4 Ways to Integrate Online with Print

4 Ways to Integrate Online with Print Mike Wokosin

Even while consumer and business print media is predicted to decline in the next five years, the opportunities to advance reader engagement and online integration are significant. In the face of less print media advertising, both marketers and agencies can improve the impact of their messages by developing creative that includes a meaningful bridge to support the relationship between the consumer and the brand.

For both high and low involvement brands, a connection to the internet can support a number of tangential strategies that relate to competition, new product development, acquisition, retention and driving revenue through direct purchase or referral.

After reviewing more than 400 print advertisements, an average of 75 percent included a URL across fashion, business, entertainment, lifestyle, eBusiness and youth magazines with youth driving the top end of the average and fashion the lower end.

In the following pages, we’ll look at what I found in reviewing these hundreds of print executions in order to give you some easy but important strategies to improve the effectiveness of your print and online integration.

Author Notes:
Mike Wokosin is the VP of Marketing at The Cannery. Read full bio.

Similar to the integration for television advertising, including a URL in a print ad is the base level of integration that doesn’t require much effort. Still, while 70 percent of print ads included a URL, the mean masks a broad range in execution.

At the upper end of the integrated print ad spectrum, urban male-focused magazines such as VIBE and Dub had nearly 90 percent URL inclusive advertisements, while fashion had just 20 to 30 percent URL inclusion. Fashion advertising has been late to adopt interactive, but its low URL inclusion rate is compounded by poor execution.

An example of clear URL integration is this GM ad with its bold font, unique color, call to action and reiteration in the body of the text as well as in the lower right corner where the reader’s eye naturally follows the page.

Clear integration

As an industry-leading direct marketer, Dell is typical of a brand that has an ecommerce website with the ability to call a reader to action. With the brand represented within the URL as the hero, the font size is extreme but also does its job to make Dell top of mind for those consumers considering which computer to buy with a specific purpose in mind-- gaming.

Bold and effective

What to avoid:

  1. Font/type is too small to notice or read

  2. Placing the URL near or in the center crease of the magazine

  3. A font color of the URL that is too similar to the background color of the ad itself

As with any advertising, whether it’s a gorgeous product shot, a carefully chosen tagline or the right location backdrop, marketers and creative directors should spend time thinking about what the reader -- your consumer -- should do with this URL and how to generate an expectation for the effort. Too many ads today treat the URL as if it were a legal mandatory element.

Consider the context (audience, buying process, magazine and campaign)

  1. Is your objective to sell your product online? Then offer the reader value for making the effort to go online and purchase.

  2. Is your product or service high involvement, requiring a complex decision-making process? Then mention an online tutorial or downloadable decision checklist.

  3. Will this purchase require a combination of offline and online research? Then offer a downloadable product catalog.

  4. Are your consumers in the casual game demographic? Offer and tout your online games.

Your consumer has a problem-- your brand is the solution. It’s your job to guide them through the decision-making process.

HunterDouglas sells premium-priced blinds that require consumers to consider the color of flooring, furniture and wall coverings. This is a custom product and a complex purchase. HunterDouglas attempts to make this easier by guiding the consumer to their website for a free, downloadable catalog. They save the effort and cost of mass mailings, and the consumer benefits by saving time.


Below, Penguin Books misses the mark by including just their main URL in the ad. Given they only listed the Penguin.com URL, I expected to either see a corporate brochure ware site or to see The Wal-Mart Effect book prominently listed on the home page.

Less effective

When I went to Penguin.com, I saw neither and was surprised to see that it was an ecommerce website. This is a missed opportunity to sell. An easy win would have been in the URL of Penguin.com/Wal-MartEffect that led directly to the product landing page.

VP, Digital Marketing at Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Mike´s experience spans two decades of working with brands such as Nestle, Warner Bros, ABC, Disney, Fox, Nautilus, The Buckle and Shimano among others.

View full biography


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