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Digital, print media deliver the best ROI - finds new Nielsen study

According to Nielsen's new study on advertising ROI, digital and print media will get you more bang for your buck. The study, conducted over three years, investigated the return on investment of 17 different brands across multiple channels.
Image credit: Matthew Guay on Unsplash.

The key takeout? Reading, especially on digital platforms, consistently delivered the greatest ROI for every R1 spent.

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“This study was conducted by Nielsen and is based on three years of empirical real spend data, including all other marketing mix elements such as price, promotion, place and product,” said Josephine Buys, CEO of the Publisher Research Council of SA (PRC).

“These 17 case studies, conducted over three years, prove to advertisers that print and digital should form part of clients next campaign. This proof of ROI is the justification, as opposed to classic planning metrics of cost per thousand (CPT), reach and frequency,” she added.

Nielsen analysts surveyed brands across six categories, which included toothpaste, analgesics, coffee, snacks and chips, chocolate and liquor (spirits, wine and ciders) over 156 weeks. The advanced analytics team conducted regression analysis right down to the individual store level.

Briefly, it found:

  • Digital gives the best return on investment
  • Print gives the third-best ROI
  • Media that is read (print and digital combined) gives better ROI than any other above-the-line media
  • When combinations of all above the line media are used, sales lifts can increase up to 10% on top of what each would contribute individually 

Mix and match media


Peter Langschmidt, a research consultant to the PRC, said there were hundreds of combinations so “media has to be switched on and off continually and sales measured if the regression is going to truly identify the particular advertising medium as the cause of the sales change. This is the primary reason why these case studies are on-going for over three years and are truly robust”.



For every rand spent, digital performs best and returns R2.30 while print at R1.35 is in third place. A simple average of these two ‘read’ media is a whopping R1.83, greater than any other single medium.

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As Langschmidt points out, the case studies developed over three years now provide solid evidence that detailed product information, prices and comparisons on hundreds of brands and store locations translate directly into more sales at the till and a better advertising ROI.

Read the full study here
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Read more: media, digital, Nielsen, print, ROI, PRC

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