How To Integrate Print Ads Into Facebook and Google Ads To Lift Effectiveness

by Toby

February 9, 2015

integration of print ads with digital ads

One of the biggest challenges with print media is that there’s so much waste in your spend. This waste is evident in the fact that the cost per lead from print campaigns can be 10x higher or more compared to leads coming from digital marketing tactics. This fact alone is part of the reason so many magazines and newspapers went bankrupt during The Great Recession that began in 2007.

This waste is evident in the fact that the cost per lead from print campaigns can be 10x higher or more compared to leads coming from digital marketing tactics. This fact alone is part of the reason so many magazines and newspapers went bankrupt during The Great Recession that began in 2007.

Print is still a necessary tactic for many businesses because it does still work when done correctly (just not as effectively as digital marketing).

But you can make print advertising SO much more effective.  And stretch your print advertising dollars for one single ad

 Through digital integration, print ad effectiveness can be extended for a year!

That’s right, that one print ad that you placed, whether a magazine, newspaper, or direct mail, can have an impact on sales and brand awareness for up to a year through digital integration with Facebook and Google ads!

And digital integration with print won’t cost you much at all to extend its life.

If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a glossy print ad in expensive magazines or direct mailers, the newspaper, marriage mail, etc., why would you not want to extend the reach of that ad for as long as possible?

Why Is This Important?

  1. Because the consumer behavior, or the path to purchase, has a sales cycle. Most customers take longer than a day to make a purchase decision. I know in my business it can be weeks or months before someone decides to hire us. So if you’re not extending that exposure to the customer, you will lose the sale.
  2. Consumers research multiple sources before making a purchase decision. A study done by Google found that between 2010 and 2013 that the number of points of influence before a customer made a purchase decision more than doubled from 5 to 13. And for car purchases, for example, Google found that consumers completed 24 research points prior to purchasing.
Figure 1 Source: Think With Google, https://www.google.com.au/think/tools/customer-journey-to-online-purchase.html

As the above chart from Think With Google indicates, the path to purchase for the majority of revenue from industries comes from multiple steps.

In other words, your customers don’t land on your site on the very first visit and buy your products. Customers do research, check your reviews, talk with their friends or family, visit competitors’ sites, etc.

If you’re not maintaining exposure over the course of days, weeks, or months while your customer is deciding whether she should purchase your product or service then the chances are higher you will lose that sale.

As the expression goes, out of sight, out mind.

 The Benefit of Digital Integration with Print Media:

  1. Increased sales
  2. More leads
  3. Better brand awareness
  4. Higher return on advertising spend

If someone views your print ad and never sees it again how are you going to maintain your brand awareness to her? How will she remember you if she only sees your print ad once and then tosses the newspaper or magazine into the garbage?

This leads to the most important question:
How can you integrate print ads into your Google and Facebook ads and extend the life of your print media?

Integrating print ads with online marketing is not too difficult but does require some technical understanding, and you may need to reach out to your web developer. I will outline the process below.

  1. First, buy a vanity URL from a company like Godaddy (only costs $12 or so) that you will use in your print ad (not your real website address). So if your website is, www.I-make-widgets.com, then you could purchase something similar like www.MakeWidgets2015.com.
  2. After you purchase the new domain name you need to set up what is called a 301 redirect with Google UTM parameters – sounds scary for the non-techie, but it’s really not that bad. This assumes you have Google Analytics set up on your site.

What is a 301 redirect you ask?
A 301 redirect is geek talk that means that when someone types in a particular website address it will redirect them to the website address you want instead. In this case, you’ve purchased a vanity URL and are redirecting it to your normal website address.

The Google UTM parameters will allow you to not only track how many people are coming from this vanity URL (and thus your print ad) but also allow you the ability to target these same site visitors that came from your print ad with ads in Google and Facebook.

How To Set Up Google UTM Parameters:
Visit the Google URL Builder here and enter your parameters as in the screenshot below.


After you hit submit you end up with the below URL:

new URL google UTM parameters added

It’s this URL that you will tell your domain provider to redirect your vanity website too.

In other words, with this example, I will tell the vanity domain that when someone types in www.MakeWdgets2015.com they will automatically be redirected to my normal website (www.I-Make-Widgets.com) but with the Google UTM parameters that I created above from the Google URL builder.

I am using Godaddy as an example, and the steps may vary with your domain provider.

Next go to the section for forwarding for that particular domain name and click on “manage.”


Add domain forwarding:


Add the full website address you built in Google URL builder.


In the above example, we’ve added our URL with the Google UTM parameters and set it to a 301 redirect. The result of this will be that anytime someone types in the vanity URL you purchased they will end up redirected to your normal website (or whatever website you’ve chosen) and the UTM parameters in the URL will be passed to your Google Analytics program.

So those are the first steps.

You will use the vanity URL www.MakeWdigets2015.com in your print ad that will ensure that everyone that types it in to find out more will be redirected to a landing page on your normal website.

At this point, you want to make sure the website address is fairly prominent in your print ad, and you may even want to add a call-to-action (CTA) to it, such as, “Find out more, visit MakeWidgets2015.com today!”

In this case, we redirected the traffic to the home page, but the best-case scenario would be to send the readers of the print ad to a landing page that was modeled after your ad and that had an offer, your unique selling proposition, and all that other good copy and direct response elements you need to sell your products or services.

google analytics

So we can see above within Google Analytics I’ve selected Source/Medium that shows all the Sources and Mediums of traffic to your website. In this case, when we built our redirect with the Google URL Builder we told it our source was Vogue and the medium was Print.

If we had received traffic from that vanity URL it would have appeared here in our list with all the metrics of how people are behaving on the site.

Integrating Facebook and Google With Print Ads

How to integrate your print ad with Facebook ads:

From within your Facebook Ads Manager, click on Audiences in the left-hand column –


Then click on Custom Audiences from the Create Audience drop down.


Then click on Website Traffic:


And then click on People Who Visited Specific Web Pages:


Now here is where we can target the Google UTM parameters – our URL was:

So we can target any of those variables we added to the URL – Vogue or Print, or Holiday, etc. You probably want to target something unique that would not be used anywhere else.

In this case, if you never thought you’d run another ad in Vogue you could target “Vogue.” So just add “Vogue” to the “URL contains” box. Then click on Create Audience, and you now have a Facebook Custom Audience that has in it anyone that has visited any URL on your site in the last 30 days with “vogue” in the URL.


How great is that?

I just extended the life of my print ad indefinitely, or as long as I have people in my new Custom Audience on Facebook.

You can create multiple Custom Audiences with Facebook’s Custom Audiences based on time and other options as indicated in the dropdowns. The default time is set to 30 days on Facebook, but it can be changed from anywhere between 1 to 180 days, and you can create many of the same and just vary the days.

Now all you have to do is create your ads, but at this point, Facebook is now capturing your audience into your list that has come from your print ad.

How to integrate your print ad with Google ads:

The process is somewhat similar to Facebook Custom Audiences, however, in Google, we’re creating what Google calls a Remarketing List. I’m assuming you have a Google Adwords account already set up.

Potential customers that end up on a Google Remarketing list can stay on that last for up to a year! That’s a long time to have extended the life of your print ad and have direct access to a potential consumer reminding them of your brand and product or service.

When you’re inside your Adwords account, in the left menu is a link to the Shared Library – click that.


Then click on Remarketing List.



Now we can see how Google and Facebook have very similar options – Facebook calls it Custom Audiences, and Google refers to it as Remarketing Lists.

So enter a name for your Google Remarketing List, perhaps “Vogue Print Ad” – this is only for your reference. Then click on “Show advanced options.”


Once you’ve clicked on “Advanced options” enter “Vogue” in the box for “URL contains” or whichever variable you entered in the Google UTM parameters. Set the duration to whatever you would like. The default is the same as in Facebook at 30 days.

And like in Facebook, you can create multiple Remarketing Lists with different durations for the same page. Click Save, and now you have Google integrated with your print ad and collecting visitors for the list you just created.

Of course, you still need to create the ads, but as it stands now both Facebook and Google are capturing potential customers that are coming from your print ad. The only caveat with Google here is that your list has to build up to 100 people before you can start running ads.


If you wanted to go above and beyond for extra credit, you could also set up an ad set in Facebook to target people who read Vogue or have an interest in Vogue. Then capture those visitors in a similar Custom Audience in Facebook and a similar Remarketing List in Google.

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get in touch - how can we help you?

Your journey for better results online begins NOW!