Consumers Would Use Online Ads, If They Had Some Way To Store Them

In all the years that I have been doing research with consumers regarding their online behaviour – across many different concepts – one thing always holds true: The most successful online companies are the ones that let people do online that which they used to do offline – but do those things faster, with greater ease, and more conveniently.

Examples? Think about researching a new car (with the Internet replacing going to numerous dealerships and picking up brochures). Or looking for an inexpensive flight (which replaced calling a travel agent or worse, many airlines).  Or even checking the value of your stock portfolio, which overnight became a hobby for millions of ‘regular’ people (vs. getting out the Wall Street Journal and a calculator).  Banking, job-searching, listening to music, watching TV… need more examples?

That’s why my very first consumer focus groups for AdKeeper dove deep into the idea behind the overall concept:  Would you be interested in saving online ads? I asked participants if they ever ripped ads out of their magazines or their newspaper, whether they saved weekly ad circulars or the coupons that they get in the mail at home.

Overwhelmingly, participants said that they saved advertisements.  But when I asked what they did with them or where they saved them, most everyone just smiled.  They smiled because they knew in their hearts that their “saving systems” really don’t work.  They said:

  • I stack them up in a big pile on my desk.
  • I have a special drawer for them.
  • I stuff them into an old manila envelope.
  • They are all over the place.
  • I don’t know, I seem to rip them out and then lose track of them.

So, clearly consumers save lots of ads for things they are interested in and don’t want to forget about — offline.

But when I asked participants to think about their online behaviour — do they save the ads they see when they are online? – not one said that they did. 

When we probed into why this is, most told us that the only way to really save an online ad would be to take a screen shot, print it to their printer, and then put that printed ad into the drawer/pile/folder…. not exactly an online solution to an offline behaviour.

With their enthusiasm for AdKeeper, (concept research resulted in “intent to use” unlike any company I’ve been involved with) consumers are telling us, “Let me be in control like I am when I spontaneously rip an ad out of a magazine.  And then give me a place that keeps my kept ads organised and easy to look at, find and use.”

Keeping ads in this new online way is far superior to the old way – and like every successful digital business, it’s easier, faster, and more convenient than doing it offline.

And that’s what makes it so appealing to consumers.

Marshall Cohen founded Marshall Cohen Associates, a research and strategic marketing firm, in 1993. Cohen has worked with a multitude of successful online brands, including CNET, Prodigy,, America Online, AIM, Compuserve, DailyCandy, Thrillist and iheartradio.

In 2004 and 2005, he created and taught an MBA seminar in Entertainment Marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania