Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nobody clicks on outdoor ads

Nobody clicks on outdoor ads. Clearly.

But this doesn't mean outdoor advertising doesn't work. It does. And when I say work, I mean it drives sales. Of course, the ads need to have impact, to communicate and be persuasive. Such as these. But few doubt the effectiveness of the medium itself.

The problem with online display advertising is the pressure to measure it only by 'hard measures' such as cost per click. Of course these are important. But it is dangerous to determine the success of an online campaign based only on the number of people that clicked. If we do, the tendency will be to aim for the lowest cost-per-click every time.

Is this a bad thing?

I think it can be. On the face of it, lowest cost-per-click sounds like the only right thing to do. If we went just for lowest cost-per-click every time, we'd probably just do Google ads all the time. The production cost on Google adwords is nothing and you only pay per click. So, very little upfront risk and lots of transparency.

This is a bit like classified newspaper ads. They too are low cost. In fairness, Google's model is better for a number of reasons but there are similarities. It is safe to assume most brand managers would not put their entire campaign into classified ads. Yet, many put most of their online budgets into Google.

Maybe we decide to splash out and bang up a few flash display ads - to link in with some offline advertising. Not cheap if you measure the cost divided by clicks. And not cheaper than Google, so how do you justify the cost? And how do you make the case for rich media ads, video, full page takeovers or some interactive game?

We start by trying to understand why we would do each format. Why do brands take full page newspaper ads? Or gatefolds on magazines? Or wraps on the Metro or Herald AM? Or a roadblock on all the TV stations? Not for efficiency. Small ads will always be more efficient.

They do these for impact.

The difficulty I've come across is finding a common language for measuring anything beyond adwords and low-cost flash banner ads. I believe they have value in terms of fast reach, impact and other brand engagement. But I'm not happy with the measures. We can't just do full page takeovers because they look nice.

Which is why I was happy to discover a new report on Cybercom's site. All my questions are not answered but there is some good stuff in there. Drop over there for a read.

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