Track Print Advertising Online with Google Analytics


Google Analytics tracking print ads

We recently shared three tips on how to track the ROI of print marketing, and one of them focused on how to track your offline advertising online. The goal is to measure the visitors that come to your website because of a print ad campaign.

Because the topic is fairly complex and extremely important to understanding how effective your print ads are, in this article we’ll explore how to track print advertising in Google Analytics.

Step 1: Set up a URL specific to your print campaign.

The goal here is to provide a new and unique URL that is short and easy for a customer to remember, as they’ll have to type it into their computer when they see it on your ad.

There are two methods to do this.

Add a unique page to your website

This just means to add a new page to your site that is specifically targeted to your print campaign.

As an example, let’s say your company website is What you would do in this method is create a new page that is only advertised on your print ads.

Let’s say in this case you are using your print campaign to advertise a sale on widgets. On the ads you may direct customers to your new page,, that you’ve created specifically for the print campaign.

Purchase a vanity URL

The second method is to purchase a completely new URL; this is really more like an additional step to the first method. This doesn’t mean that you will build a separate website, just that you will buy a URL that will redirect to your existing website.

The advantage here is that you can purchase a URL that is very easy for customers to remember and type into their browser. Maybe you’ve already created page, but you don’t want your customers to have to remember that entire URL. So you purchase

When customers enter, they will be sent to the page you set up, To do this, see this article on how to set up a 301 redirect.

Step 2: Track the visitor in Google Analytics

Whichever method you use, it is key track the number of visitors you receive from the print campaigns in Google Analytics. Otherwise, the trouble you went to in step 1 was a waste of time.

To see how many customers came to, you’ll just go into Google Analytics, click “Behavior” in the left sidebar, then click “Site Content” and then click “Landing Page.”

In this section, look for /sale; the numbers in this row represent all the people that came directly to the page of your site without going to your homepage. Since you’ve only advertised that particular page on your print ads, you know they came to your site because they saw the ad. If you are tracking sales or conversions on your site, you can use this information to see exactly how effective your print ad campaign was.

Don’t forget to visit our previous article on calculating ROI on print advertising to also learn how you can track phone calls coming in from your ads.

3 Ways Print Can Help Your Business


3 ways print can help your business

We’ve published a slew of articles discussing the important role print plays in today’s world. This ranges from how print ad spend is rising to the growing importance of variable data printing.

Today we want to look at three simple ways print can help grow your business. We think you’ll find it interesting and informative as a way to distill down all the stats and figures about print.

1. Print brings back lapsed customers

It is easier (and cheaper) to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. But did you know print can help you re-engage lapsed customers? The following quote on the matter comes from the great article “10 killer reasons why you should be using print” from Content Magazine.

“There is one very good use for print, better than other content delivery systems and not enough brands are using it for this purpose, that is, re-engaging lapsed customers,” said Andrew Hirsch, CEO of John Brown Media. “Online footwear retailer, Zappos (which is not one of our clients), was experiencing a problem with re-engaging with lapsed customers. About two Christmases ago it sent their lapsed customers a print catalogue, and overnight some went on to become their best customers.”

2. Create trust and credibility

No matter what kind of print product you are producing, consumers see it as inherently more credible and trustworthy than digital products. And you don’t have to take our word for it. Joey Hinojoso, owner of Smart Levels Media, quotes a variety of studies showing how readers perceive traditional ads versus digital ads in a great LinkedIn article.

“An extensive survey conducted by The VTT Research Institute in 2012 found that 63% of consumers who read newspapers find the ads within them trustworthy,” he writes. “This is compared with a shockingly low 25% of consumers who derive the same sense of trust from internet advertising methods.”

3. It will help people remember your business

Studies have shown that those reading print publications retain information better than those that read the same information online. We quoted one such study that found the reason for this is that reading print is more effective than reading digital sources. And it makes sense in context of how information is perceived in today’s world.

“The knowledge that the information they can find online, even if it disappears after reading, is immediately electronically archived and thus imminently retrievable may make readers less apt to feel they need to store it in their memory,” said a researcher that worked on the study.

We hope this information shines a little more light on the importance of print and how it can help your business. For information on how we can help, contact us today.

Paper Brightness, Whiteness & Shade: Definitions and Differences


Paper Brightness, Whiteness and Shade

Paper brightness, paper whiteness and shade are three of the most often misunderstood variables of paper choice in print projects. However, they all play an important role in determining the look of your final product.

While it’s easy to have a general idea of what the terms brightness, whiteness and shade mean, there can be quite a bit of confusion as to their technical definitions and how they affect the appearance of your final product.

It should be noted that though paper brightness and whiteness are somewhat similar, they are not interchangeable.

Paper Brightness

Brightness measures the amount of reflectance of a specific wavelength of blue light. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 – the higher the number, the brighter the paper.

In other words, 95 bright paper reflects more light than an 85 bright paper, therefore appearing brighter.

Using the specific blue light to measure this reflection ignores longer wavelengths, including green and red. Because of this, two types of paper with the same brightness can visually appear very different, even though their “brightness” is the same.

Specifically, the blue light used to measure brightness has a wavelength of 457 nanometers (nm).

Paper Whiteness

Whereas brightness measures the reflection of a very specific wavelength of light, whiteness measures the reflection of all wavelengths of light across the visible spectrum. Because of this, the whiteness measure is more in line with our visual perception.

So, there will generally be a consensus that the higher the whiteness rating (which also uses a 0-100 scale), the whiter the paper.

Using the entire spectrum of visible light, paper with a very high whiteness number can appear to have a blue tint depending on what light source it is viewed under.

The most common whiteness measure, D65 illumination, represents outdoor daylight. This standard is called CIE Whiteness and was developed by the French-based International Commission on Illumination (also abbreviated CIE). Indoor lighting, of course, will change how white the paper appears, and this will vary even more between fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.

Paper Shade

Shade, on the other hand, does not take into account any light reflection; instead, it represents the color of the paper. There are three common groups of white shades:

True White
Blue White
Cream White

As noted above, often the blue white shade is used for paper because it appears to be a “whiter” white than true white. These papers are often labeled “bright white” or “high white.” It has this tint because it reflects more blues.

Cream white absorbs the blues that blue white reflects, and therefore has a yellowish look. True white, as it name would suggest, reflects the entire color spectrum equally, which of course is the true definition of white.

Shade choice is particularly important in book printing. In addition to taking your own preference into account, you also want to make sure the shade of your paper provides visual comfort for your readers. The best choice for this depends largely on the content of your book. If you are interested in book printing, find out more at our book printing division,

When Brightness and Whiteness Go Off the Charts

If you’ve looked at a variety of paper, you may have seen brightness and whiteness levels going above the 100 scale mentioned earlier.

The 100 limit is for standard paper made only with pulp. However, additives may be added to make the paper appear even brighter or whiter.

These additives are known as Optical Brightening Agents (OBA), and in reference to brightness they reflect ultraviolet – or UV – light as visible light. In other words, this is reflecting more visible light than the actual light source emits.

Similarly, fluorescent OBAs will cause whiteness values to increase above 100.

North American Paper Standards

Outside the paper industry and print industry, paper brightness is the most common measuring standard in North America. The 0-100 scale is typically based on the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry’s TAPPI Standard T451. Regions outside North America commonly use the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO Standard 2469.

As mentioned above, the standard for Whiteness measurement is CIE Whiteness.

Again, though whiteness and brightness have similarities, the measurement systems used to measure each are completely independent of each other and are not at correlated.


Print Today: Measuring Advertising Effectiveness


It’s news to some people: print advertising is sticking around. But methods of measuring the advertising effectiveness of print is changing. Or, it should be.

Studies show that we consumers are neurologically disposed to respond better to print ads in certain situations – and this is not just true of the old folks, either. Studies show that while Millennials are more influenced by digital ads than other age groups, they pay more attention to traditional ads.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal released the following chart, and it’s no surprise that ad spending on print has dropped in recent years while spending on digital ads has accelerated. But look at what happens to print in the next few years: print spending will remain around the same level where it is today.

Total Media Ad Spending - WSJ Chart

Print clearly will remain a major advertising player, but for it to complement digital and other types of advertising we must focus on better ways of reporting the effectiveness of print advertising. Particularly, we must be able to measure the ROI of print not only on its own, but also in relation to other advertising platforms. Of course, this is easier said than done.

One of the clear advantages of digital advertising is how easy it is to gather data about the performance of ads. When a potential customer clicks on your ad, you can see not only exactly where they came from to get to your site, but also how they then interact once on your site. When enough data is collected you can adjust your marketing plan accordingly.

The Difficulties in Measuring Advertising Effectiveness in Print

Print advertising, however, is not always so simple to quantify.

The use of a QR code once seemed like the answer; the natural link between print and digital. Just like a click on the digital ad, the information transferred from a QR scan provides a wealth of information about where the consumer viewing the ad came from.

But the codes have never taken off with the public as much as marketers might like. Even the inventor of the code recently said it (the code) only has a decade or so left to live. Though he was referring to the original use of the codes in warehouse and manufacturing settings, it is likely that the same is true for advertising.

So we are left to focus on creating better methods to measure the performance of print advertising.

A New Kind of Measurement Tool

A new tool that aims to offer new insights into print advertising effectiveness is the Magazine Audience Performing Predictor (mapp), which delivers performance data of magazine ads within 14 days of the issue’s on-sale date. This is as close to real time performance results for magazine ads as we currently have available. A collaborative effort of Magazine Publishers of Australia (MPA) – and thus far only available for Australian magazines – the tool recently received a global award at the FIPP Research Forum.

Magazine Audience Performance Predictor (Mapp) Logo

Here’s the description of the tool on the MPA website:

Using mapp advertisers can now access timely, real-time measures of current magazine issue performance and magazine audience build over time. [It] enables magazines to be evaluated more accurately in advertisers’ marketing and media models, using a weekly timeframe of performance, alongside other media and key indicators, such as sales. mapp provides, within a week or two after the on-sale date, estimates of the total ratings that specific magazine issues will achieve over their lifespan.

“mapp is a truly innovative project, which quantifies the contribution of magazines to the media mix in a manner that is in line with the forms of data available for other media,” said FIPP’s judges, according to “It involves forecasting how advertising messages in magazines will be spread through time, issue by issue.”

What’s Next?

The service is still relatively new, so its effectiveness remains to be seen. Still, it’s great to see innovations coming to magazine ad measuring techniques.

As print spending stabilizes, advertisers will have a better idea of how much they need to spend on print, but the new question will be what print venues will be the best investment. And they will be looking to new tools like mapp to help them make these decisions in context to their publications.

The Future is Cross Platform

As mentioned above, print advertisers not only want better ROI measurements, but also want to know how these ads function in context of their other advertising platforms. Forbes emphasized the importance of measuring multiple platforms at once with the article, “2014: The Year of the Cross Platform Measurement.”

Much of the article is focused on traditional television v. digital video consumption. But the parallels to the print medium are many. Television advertisers are still relying heavily on the traditional ratings measurement tools, while the rise of digital television consumption is sharp (a 30 percent rise from the final quarter of 2012 to the final quarter of 2013). Needless to say, it is now imperative to not only be able to measure both traditional and digital TV viewing, but to be able to be able to combine that data to get an accurate picture of the viewing audience.

Similarly, print advertisers still rely primarily on circulation numbers that are becoming more and more unreliable as reading habits change. While it is easier to measure digital reading habits, being able to discover what reader is reading one article in a magazine and then another (in the same publication) online will put advertisers in a much better position. It will also be a great way for publishers to give advertisers a better representation of not only how many but how readers are reading the material. Of course, this will allow them to better optimize advertising rates.

What Does it Mean Now?

The good news: print advertising is sticking around and the previous decline in print ad sales will level off. This means advertisers are realizing where the advantages of print advertising lies in relation to digital ads and how the two can complement each other.

The bad news: we don’t yet have a great way to measure the results of this cross-platform approach.

However, it is likely that new tools similar to mapp will continue to emerge to fill this void. It remains to be seen just how effective they will be, but we’ll be looking forward to seeing more effective print advertising measuring techniques emerge as we move forward into this new era of advertising.


“Think Different” image source: Wikimedia Commons

Print Marketing in the Digital Age (and How to Do It)


It’s no secret that digital marketing is growing rapidly these days. And though it will continue to do so, that doesn’t mean that print is being replaced (or is dead, which people have been claiming at least since “Ghostbusters”). Instead, digital and print marketing have become complements to each other.

A Millward Brown study may suggest why (and how) these two types of marketing can coexist: the need for continued print marketing is rooted at the neurological level of consumers.

Print Marketing Leaves a “Footprint”

Photo of a Footprint on the Moon

The study used fMRI scanning to observe how brain reactions differed when subjects were shown direct mail print ads than when they viewed the same ad on a screen. The results found that “tangible materials leave a deeper footprint on the brain.”

This “footprint” is achieved in two ways:

  1. More brain responses connected to internal feelings were immediately produced when observing physical materials,
  2. Print involved more emotional processes than when observing ads on a screen. The study finds the latter part is important for “memory and brand associations.”

In other words, print makes you feel more strongly, which in turn helps you remember.

Brain scan of print marketing affecting brain activity

It’s Not All in Your Head

But how does this neurological-level research translate to how consumers actually act and feel? A separate study finds that consumers trust print ads more than any other source.

The VTT study asked how much trust consumers put in advertising from different mediums; 63 percent trusted ads in magazines and newspapers, while TV and the internet received trust ratings of 41 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

The outlook of the study for print marketing materials was good, as well. Direct mail has more trust than social media, while catalogs are trusted more than the internet.

What Happens Next?

The Back to the Future Train

Will these trust percentages change? Probably so.

Trust of digital is on its way up, and as consumers get more familiar with it, they’ll learn what sources to trust and what sources to stay away from – just like they already do for print.

And when this happens, it will be important to remember the most important finding of these studies:

Both digital and printed marketing materials have their own unique place within a marketing strategy.

Realizing this and planning your strategy accordingly is the key to staying ahead of the curve (i.e. out in front of your target audience).

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Digital and Print

For some initial guidance on how to effectively combine digital and print marketing, a report by Qube looks into the pros and cons of both. Unsurprisingly, they echo the findings of the aforementioned neurological study.

Print is best used for three things, according to the study:

1. To build and maintain brand awareness (even if there is a shift to online).
2. For more in-depth or longer pieces
3. When marketers want consumers to focus only on one item (as opposed to the multitasking of consumers when they read online).

Digital, on the other hand, boasts the following advantages:

1. The greatest of the web’s benefits is the opportunity to interact with and listen to customers.
2. It can be utilized as a quick testing ground to garner feedback:
– to broadcast time-sensitive, quick information bites to consumers
– to serve as an effective channel when consumers are looking for immediate information

Obviously, all three studies and reports listed here are fairly specific in their testing and types of research. Therefore it’s more important than ever to use these guidelines as a base for your print marketing materials campaigns and then tailor them to your exact needs (and those of your customers).