LONDON: Advertising to subscribers who access content behind a paywall drives higher levels of online and offline behaviour and action, a new study suggests.

Project Footprint, a month-long study conducted by Keller Fay in partnership with comScore for News UK, tracked the online and offline activities of 70 multi-platform subscribers to The Times. The results showed how exposure to advertising on the tablet edition provoked offline conversation as well as searching online and purchasing products.

Offline conversation levels were significantly higher than a non-exposed control group, 150% higher in the case of luxury fashion brand Burberry, while offline action – in terms of purchases or brand choice – was 163% higher in the case of auto marque BMW.

Advertising exposure also drove more online behaviour such as brand search or website visits, an uplift of 111% in the case of cinemas.

Further, News UK claimed a strong correlation to brand advocacy in various categories, most notably in supermarkets, where 95% of brand advocates had seen an ad for their preferred brand during the month. But there were also elevated figures for banking (86%), airlines (75%) and cars (65%).

Abba Newbery, director of strategy for News UK Commercial, said the research "proves that our audience is at their most engaged and attentive when they are consuming our content, more likely to use search and more likely to take an action".

Other interesting findings from the research included the fact that Times readers spent 63% more time online than the average web user and visited 57% more pages. They were also rather less social, spending 56% less time with Facebook.

MediaPost pointed to the latter figure as a "killer stat", and suggested that marketers should look beyond the numbers and consider how best to reach an audience of fewer readers behind a paywall who were strongly engaged and about whom more was known.

"This research is an important step in publishers fighting back against the race to the bottom that automated inventory buying and selling appears to be ushering in," its columnist said.

Data sourced from News UK, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff