Interactive Print , Marketing , Augmented Reality , Publishing

Print Advertisements - Best ROI Measurement Techniques

Measuring Print Ad ROI is difficult. Traditional methods of measuring ROI- Asking customers, Discount Coupons, Mail Order Forms, QR codes, Special Phone Numbers- have their limitations. Interactive Print overcomes these limitations with Visual Appeal, Scalability, Easy and Passive Data Collection.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

                  - Legendary Management Guru Peter Drucker

 marketing roi elusive

Source -

An advertisement is only as effective as the revenue it generates, at the day, it is the universal truth. We can all agree that Return on Investment, or ROI is one of the most important ways to gauge the success of an advertisement. In fact High ROI is more important than innovation, creativity or the design of an ad. Therefore, if you want to be improving the measuring advertising effectiveness, ROI is the best of the print advertising metrics to focus on.

Digital advertising makes it easy to calculate ROI on advertisements. With end to end Clicks, Conversions and Sales tracking, ROI is easy to assess.

A-Z of Experiential Marketing - A Beginner's Mini Guide


Calculating print advertising metrics, especially ROI, is not so simple. There is no direct way to measure print advertising effectiveness, to track which advertisement drove an engagement or a sale.

Traditionally, a few indirect methods to calculate ROI exist. These ROI measurement techniques involve

  • Asking the customer
  • Using a dedicated phone number/website
  • Discount Coupons/ Gift Codes
  • QR Codes
  • Mail Order Forms
  • Isolating Data from other Marketing Campaigns
  • Stopping other Marketing campaigns

Let us go through each of these ROI measurement techniques briefly, and identify their limitations in measuring print advertising effectiveness.


The simplest way of knowing about the customer is asking them. You ask the customer for the source of their information about the product, where in the questions can be generic or specific. For example -


“Where did you learn about our product?”, “What publication did you find our advertisement in?”, “When did you last see our ad?”

The problem with this approach is the customer experience. Customers’ don’t want the process of market research questions to disrupt  their shopping experience., simply because the poor customer experience would result in lesser sales.

Besides, people have a weak memory and may not be able to provide precise reliable data. This could lead to inaccurate data about the advertisement and source of information and could jeopardize the ROI calculation.


In this ROI measurement technique, companies use a unique phone number for each advertising campaign. The reader of the advertisement is asked to contact the company on the given phone number . This number is exclusive to the given advertising campaign. Similarly, the company might set up a unique website for a campaign as well.

Any interest/queries for the given campaign are directed to this phone number. Any sales/revenue resulting from these queries is associated with the advertising campaign. These sales/revenues help in calculating the final ROI of the campaign.

This approach is expensive and not scalable and not to mention acquiring a new phone number/website for each campaign requires large investment. As the number of advertisements and campaigns grow, more phone numbers and websites are needed. The end result is an unmanageable mess. With a large number of advertisements, the administrative and management overheads of maintaining multiple phone numbers/websites increases rapidly. Effectively extracting data for each campaign becomes a manual and time consuming task.


Advertisements often provide gift codes and discount coupons. Each advertisement campaign is accompanied with a unique coupon code where the customer provides this code at the point of sale. Each sale that is accompanied with a gift card/coupon code is associated with the corresponding advertising campaign. The revenue from these sales is used to calculate the ROI for a given advertising campaign.

This is a straightforward method with little downside. In some cases, the customer may not use the gift code at the time of purchase. Thus the revenue generated by those customers wouldn’t be associated with the campaign. Thus the calculated ROI would be lower than the actual ROI. As a result, your marketing team may ignore  high performing campaigns and profitable avenues.


QR codes have become a staple in Print ads. QR codes is one of the interactive solutions that act as a bridge between the Print advertisements and Digital tracking systems. They are extensively used in electronics and automobiles ads. Typically,  the first step for a customer would be to scan the QR code to see further relevant content, provide his contact details to the advertiser, or buy something. Advertising software can track these actions and assign a monetary value to them. This value can be used to calculate ROI.

QR codes do change the design and visual appeal of the advertisements. For visual intensive ads, (Eg. - Apple), a QR code might be a dampener on the appearance of the ad. This could affect the ad's impact and the brand's image.


Mail order forms are a classic Direct Response marketing tool. These forms can be customized for each advertisement or marketing campaign. Mailed in order forms can be tracked to estimate the success and ROI of each marketing campaign.

Mail order forms are slow, outdated and almost redundant in today's times. They do not leverage the speed and connectivity provided by Internet and smartphones. It also involves significant action on part of the reader. The tedious task of tearing the form, filling it in, going to the nearest post box and mailing it is indeed a huge task. Potential customers should not have to go through such a lengthy process.  The long conversion process could lead to a drop in the sales from an ad.


This approach works best if you can track revenues from other marketing campaigns. You subtract the revenue generated from other marketing campaigns from the total revenue. This approach would work if you can track returns from other marketing campaigns, however, it won't work if you can't isolate and track revenues from other marketing campaigns. It is  impossible to get the performance of a specific ad. You can only assess the performance of Print advertisement campaigns in general.


This is the most adventurous approach. You stop other marketing activities for some time and solely focus on Print advertising.  All the revenue generated during that time would be associated with the Print advertisement campaign. This method is the simplest and requires the least accounting and management overhead. Unfortunately, what you save in the overhead expenses, you lose out with lesser revenue. If you do not have a solid Non-Print marketing campaign going on, you could perhaps consider this approach.

If your non Print campaigns  are performing well, this approach is disastrous. You would lose out on potential revenue generated from other marketing avenues. You also wouldn't be able to take advantage of any imminent marketing opportunities. Besides, if your products have a longer sales cycle, the revenue/sales generated from an advertisement might not materialize for a long time. Halting all other marketing activities for such a long time could be a very risky idea.


The above  problems  discussed make it very difficult for any advertisers to track performance and ROI of a print advertisement. Even if they manage to track these metrics, the process ends up disrupting the marketing message and the reader's experience. Ultimately, the efficacy of the advertisement decreases.

An ideal solution for tracing ROI and performance of a print advertisement would solve for the above problems. It would not disrupt the reader experience. It would provide reliable, real time data. It would work in tandem with digital media and leverage the power of smartphones and the Internet. It would be a scalable solution - one that could be easily integrated into existing marketing systems.

As it turns out, Interactive Print is a solution that fulfills all the above criteria.



Interactive Print is a novel way for readers to engage with printed content. Interactive Print uses a smartphone application to interact with printed content. The interactive solution can deliver immersive, dynamic content to the readers. Interactive Print can deliver text, images, video, 3D content, dynamic links and text.

QR codes were an early implementation of Interactive Print. With capable smartphones available today and Augmented Reality software, the print content itself can become interactive. There is no need to scan a separate code . For eg, users can scan a Print advertisement with their smartphone to access more information about the product advertised.



For more information on Interactive Print, consult the following resources


Interactive Print makes it possible to track an advertisement’s engagement, and generate leads and sales directly. Information gained from such interactive solutions makes it easier to calculate the ROI of an ad campaign.

Interactive Print solves for the above discussed limitations of print ads in the following ways



Interactive Print ads do not need a QR code. The advertisement itself can be used to deliver relevant additional content. So if you are concerned that Interactive Print will spoil the look of your ads, don’t be.  Any existing Print ad can be made interactive with zero modification.



Customers do not like to be interrupted by market research questions. Interactive Print does not bug the consumers with questions. Instead, the reader's interaction with the Interactive Content takes a front seat.

Readers can provide their contact information, buy directly from their smartphones or share content on social media. Each of these actions can be assigned a monetary value. and this value can be later used to calculate the ROI easily.



Deploying Interactive content for each Print advertisement is simple.  Data collection, content delivery and processing happens in the cloud. Centralized content management systems make managing existing Interactive Print campaigns easy.  

Thus Interactive Print can scale to thousands, potentially millions of campaigns. This scaling requires low resource, maintenance and management overheads.



Reader demographic information, geographical location can be used to customize Interactive Print content. ROI can be individually tracked for different audience, locations, time and content.

This allows advertisers to get precise information about their audience and the success of the campaign. This information can influence future marketing strategy as well.



Interactive Print needs the reader to take minimal action. There is no need to mail a form, call or clip a coupon for a discount. All they need to do is scan the advertisement with a smartphone.

Accessing and engaging with Interactive Content is a one click process. Thus, converting readers into Leads and Customers becomes easier.

Also see: Identify Your Audience And Gain Reader Insights With Interactive Print


There are several methods for measuring advertising effectiveness and the performance of your campaigns. Most of these methods rely on indirect ways of gauging performance of an ad. However, all these methods suffer from several limitations, as discussed above. Interactive Print is an advertising technological innovation that solves for the above problems as it enables you to track the performance at every  level. By moving ahead of traditional ROI measurement techniques, this makes tracking the performance and ROI of an advertising campaign easy, convenient and accurate with an added charm of technological innovation.