Internet Advertising and Marketing: Measuring Advertising Effectiveness

When it comes to advertising and marketing your business, it’s natural to want to measure your advertising effectiveness.  I know that every dollar that you spend advertising and marketing your business is a dollar that doesn’t go into your profits column.   With that in mind, business owners are always VERY interested in measuring their advertising effectiveness because advertising- viewed PROPERLY and done correctly– is an INVESTMENT in future business.

When businesses and ad agencies began using internet advertising and marketing, they thought that Web 2.0 would be nirvana.  FINALLY the old saying “I know half of my advertising dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half” could be retired.  Web 2.0 would allow us to carefully measure the effectiveness of our advertising.  What off line advertising couldn’t provide, online advertising could!  Clear, measurable RESULTS!

Fast forward to 2008.  Andy Beal writes 10 Alternative Revenues to Banner Advertising or; How Not to Starve as a Blogger:

If you run banner ads on your own blog, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen either a drop in demand or a drop in the rates you’re charging. And, with the economy sucking the wind out of any advertising growth, you’ll likely not see much of an improvement over the coming months–perhaps years.

He cites a Jakob Neilsen quote from the post,  “What if you ran an ad and nobody saw it

“We call this banner blindness — people won’t see ads at all,” said Nielsen. “Ads might as well not exist as far as users are concerned, except for search ads.” The number of web users that so much as glance at banner ads, he added, is too small to even quantify.

OK – here is 15 years of offline advertising experience speaking to you now.  I remember the days of advertising when WWW meant the “w” key on your typewriter was sticking.  I’m old. I’m 45 and I’ve been in advertising since I graduated from college a year early at age 21.   (In hindsight, I should have gotten my MBA to put some “maturity” on me, but I was an egotistical idiot at the time.  AH – YOUTH!)

It’s times like these that I’m glad I remember those days because everything old is new once again. The one thing that is different is that online advertising and marketing have “matured” to the point where online advertising and marketing operate under the same “rules” that traditional advertising has been laboring under for the past 50 years!

One of the “rules” of old-school advertising is this:

Sucky ads have NEVER worked – PERIOD!

They never worked on television.  They have never worked in newspaper.  They have never worked on radio, or on billboards, or in magazines, or even in school newspapers! People have ALWAYS tuned out sucky ads.

However, for a brief and shining moment when the web was new, sucky ads DID work.  The reason?  They were a novelty!  People would click because they had never SEEN one of these before!  Then, the banner ads got annoying.

Am I the only one who remembers those 2000 style banner ads that would rapidly flash yellow/black/red to grab your attention but their only message was “CLICK HERE”.  We came, we clicked – now give us something we want when we click!

The rise of these obnoxious banner ads was a clear signal to the end of the golden era when people would click on a banner ad because it was new.  (By the way, we’re in the same “era” when it comes to online video.  Sucky online video ads are “working” right now because they’re a novelty.  This too shall pass!)

YEAH FOR VAD NU!  HE GETS IT!!! Yes, people do see ads

Research and statistics can be dangerous things. There is real truth in the old saying that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Not to say that Jakob Nielsen isn’t doing great research, because he certainly does. But to say that you can always analyze your way to different conclusions.

We’re now squarely in the era where people are viewing ads online in the same manner as they view ads on any other medium.  When they suck, people ignore them.  When they don’t suck, people click.

The difference is – when you run a sucky ad on a website, you can WATCH as people ignore the ad.  When you run a television ad, you can’t watch people head to the bathroom like you can when you advertise on the web.

By the way, asking someone to remember an ad they saw is a PURE exercise in futility!!!  I had a client who was running a television campaign when he got a call from a new patient.  He was anxious to measure his advertising effectiveness and asked if she had seen his television ad.  No, she replied – she hadn’t seen the ad.  He pressed on – “Where did you find out about me then?”  She finally decided she had seen a billboard – only, my client wasn’t running any billboard ads – he never had!  Don’t ask people how they found you – because they don’t know!!!  Don’t annoy your new customers by grilling them like this!  80% of the buying decision is made on an UNCONSCIOUS LEVEL!

I’ve got a WHOLE CHAPTER devoted to the myths about measuring advertising effectiveness in my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results

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