It’s back! After a year off, we’re releasing our latest study of ad influencers and how they measure up with earned and owned channels. In our new US Purchase Influencers Report 2018, we delve into the media activities, attention to advertisers, and reported purchase influencers of US adults across several demographic variables.

Ad spending in the US is following general consumer behaviors, such as declines across print and steady increases for digital. However, the argument that ad spend should simply mimic consumers’ media consumption behaviors assumes receptiveness to advertising is constant across advertising types.

Is that a fair assumption? Are people as receptive to an ad on social media as they are to one on TV (or more)? Do people feel as though they notice advertisers in the places where they’re most exposed to ads? And which advertising media – as well as earned and owned media – do they believe most influence their purchases?

Based on a nationally representative survey of more than 2,200 US adults, our 36-page study – which contains 32 charts and tables – examines:

  • 18 paid, owned and earned purchase influencers; for
  • 4 activities and responses (e.g. where consumers are exposed to multiple ads); across
  • 6 demographic variables.

The report is available for purchase as either just a PDF study or as a PDF plus an accompanying folder full of the report’s png charts and an Excel file with the full survey results by demographic.

Some notable findings follow.

  • Word-of-mouth is the leading influencer of consumers’ purchases overall, followed by TV advertising, the only paid medium in the upper echelon of purchase influencers. However, this result is driven in part by youth, with older adults more likely to ascribe influence to TV ads than word-of-mouth.
  • Direct mail rounds out the top 5 (of 18) purchase influencers, carrying more heft with women, affluents, the most highly-educated, and older generations.
  • Social media is a key area of advertising exposure, particularly for women and Millennials who are its heaviest users.
  • Search ads attract almost as much purchase influence as social media ads, and more so for men. Exposure to search ads is high among affluents and highly-educated adults, though that doesn’t always translate to purchase influence.
  • Boomers report tuning out advertising to a greater extent than Millennials, and other comparisons of demographic groups likewise find some ascribing less purchase influence to paid, owned and earned media than others.

The full report is available for purchase here.

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