Measuring Advertising Success

A comment usually attributed to Lord Leverhulme went something like, “I know that half of my marketing spend is wasted, but I’m not sure which half.”

Whether they know it or not, this is this situation most companies are in today, I would go further and say 80% of your prospects come from 20% of your marketing but which 20%? Leverhulme didn’t have the advantage of the Internet back in the 20s but you now have some big advantages.

Imagine being able to cut out the wasted spend and do more of what is working! It isn’t difficult it just needs a simple database, better use of your web site and maybe a little planning.

Whether it is paying £20 per month to put a business card in the local store, a yellow pages advert or a piece in the local/national press; you need to know whether it is worth doing. When it comes to more expensive  advertising  then you really need to know how many leads you are getting for your money and how many of those are converting to sales. If you use pay-per-click and have multiple adverts running then maybe we can show you how to track the exact success of each one.

If the ‘Call To Action’ of your  advertising  is to call you then you need to ask where people found your details or have a separate number for each campaign if that is practical for you. You need to do this every time and you need to record the results. Whether on paper or on computer you need to track every prospect:

  • Name
  • Contact details
  • Product/service they are interested in
  • Likely buying timescale
  • Where they heard about you
  • Core product/service bought
  • What additional products/services have they been offer

That is the bare minimum and you will have to add to this for your own business purposes but without this core data you are doomed to continue wasting a large portion of your marketing budget.

If you have a web site then you can get clever. If you don’t have a web site then go get one, now! Seriously, you can have a web site for around £20 plus the time and effort of setting it up. There is enough information freely available to allow you to create a compelling web experience for your customers and get the message out there that you exist. If you know nothing about the internet and can’t afford to get a third party to do the development for you then choose a web host that offers one of the easy web creators.

Every piece of  advertising  you do will have a web site address (URL) on it so that people can go to your web site to find out more about what you have to offer. The vast majority of companies drive people to their home page and in doing so most of them lose valuable information on where the visitor came from. If you are getting links to your site from other places on the internet then it is possible to include information in those links to track where they came from. If you don’t have the knowledge to do this then simple create a new web page for each advert and have people reading that advert go to that unique page.

After a while you can see through your web statistics how many people arrive at these unique pages. An easy way of judging the success rates of all your  advertising . Go back and read that part again and then make a note to do it. This is a free way of measuring marketing success and one of the easiest to implement. It is more than that though, it allows you to customize each landing page to the advert that brought people in, it allows you to test different landing pages to see which ones give the best conversion rates. Never forget the bottom line, you are trying to get people to spend their money in your direction.

Then you can stop paying for the adverts that are not bringing in visitors, adjust the ones where the conversion rates are low and do more like the ones that are working for you.

Mobile Advertising – Integral Part of Any Marketing Campaign

Mobile advertising is advertising through mobile phones or other devices like iPad. An integral part of any advertising campaign, mobile advertising is fast gaining popularity due to its quick, wider reach and its potential to track the effectiveness of a campaign. As the number of mobile users across the world continues to surge (studies show that the trend is likely to continue for several years), mobile media is evolving rapidly. Apart from simple mobile phones, smart phones based on Wi Fi or Wimax have also emerged as a popular means of promoting products and sending out social messages.

Forms of Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is done in several forms but the most common one is banner ads of varied sizes. Mobile web banner or web poster ads appear on the top of a page or bottom of a mobile screen. Another very popular form of mobile ads is the SMS advertising which contributes significantly to the global mobile marketing revenues. Other forms of cell phone advertising include MMS advertising, advertising within mobile games, videos or in-application ads which appear when an application is being loaded or before it is loaded. Another advantage of this mode of advertising is that its effectiveness can be measured in a variety of ways, such as on the basis of number of view and clicks. A recent introduction is interactive ads, which allows mobile users to interact with the advertiser.

Importance of Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is likely to emerge as the necessary driver for the development and commercialization of the mobile internet. It is an important tool for monetizing mobile content and applications. However, an effective cell phone advertising campaign can only be developed if the mobile phone operators, handset vendors, content providers, application developers and advertisers collaborate effectively. So, it must be taken up while taking into consideration the variety of handsets available in the market, their different screen sizes and support technologies.

The high potential of cell phone ad has seen a proliferation of advertising networks that provide the necessary infrastructure for developing mobile ads of various types that suit the specifications and requirements of advertisers. These companies provide their clients with a Software Development Kit or SDK to include mobile ads in the applications for a mobile phone.

Online Advertising

 Advertising  has moved much beyond the levels of print and point of contact  advertising . Today one of the world’s most effective  advertising  techniques is online  advertising . With the unparalleled rise in the World Wide Web, not only has it become one of the most targeted sections of  advertising , but at the same time it is also the most cost effective  advertising  process in the world.

Categories of online  advertising  could include such systems as banner ads, email marketing,  advertising  networks, online classified  advertising  and many other techniques. The procedures are simple, they are quick and the results are easily visible.

The greatest benefit of online  advertising  is that it knows no time and space boundaries. It is visible to anyone at anytime and geographical boundaries are no longer applicable. Another great advantage is that they can be targeted to specific groups or a relevant audience. Certain keywords will bring up the advertisements on the requisite pages, thus ensuring that you catch the eyeballs of people who are looking for similar content.

Google, due to its commanding position in the search engine world, is used as the benchmark for all  advertising  techniques and marketing strategies. If a company manages to do well with its Google  advertising , then it is guaranteed that the same techniques will achieve good results on other search engines also.

Google’s AdWords is one of the most basic systems of  advertising  on their search network. The AdWords reach only interested customers, since the ads pop-up only on relevant search pages. You can also reduce  advertising  costs tremendously since these are not very high priced ads. You can also alter them as and when needed, and judging from the evaluation charts you can make informed marketing decisions.

Online  advertising , especially banner  advertising  or ads on various sites should not be judged on the basis of the number of click throughs. An advertisement’s efficacy cannot be calculated according to the instantaneous results it generates. There is a great deal of recall value attached to ads, and similar to print media or TV advertisements, the results normally become evident only later. However what is essential is the placing of the advertisement, since the significance of the page it appears on is what determines the focus of the ad.

Over 13.6 billion searches take place in one month in the US alone. Out of these 9 billion of those searches are on Google. Hence the importance of Google as the main  advertising  destination cannot be underplayed. Every SEM company worth its salt will target Google searches for optimization, and online  advertising  companies will target their ads towards the 9 billion searches every month. Thus Google promotion packages are an inherent segment of every  advertising  strategy. These include not only  advertising  on Google search engines, using the specialized techniques developed by Google, but also  advertising  on other classified advertisement networks and directory listing sites which are ranked high on the search engine lists.

Online  Advertising  includes search engine marketing with Google AdWords, Yahoo SM and Microsoft Adcenter; it also includes buying banners from CPM ad networks as well as social media marketing.

New and Cheap Advertising Ideas

When you are in the business world then your major aim is always to surge ahead of your competitors. It is important that your product is of high quality but it is also important to advertise it so that it reaches every household. You can take the example of mobile phone producers. Normally two products have got the same kind of features but the one with higher sales is the one which is well known as compared to the other one. What is being emphasized here is that you need to speak out loud about the product you are offering and that can be done through the proper implementation of  advertising  ideas.  Advertising  is the key to your success in the business.

Generally our conception about the  advertising  is limited to the big banners we see on the roadsides, in the malls and the large scale advertisements in the electronic as well as print media. With the rising popularity of the internet, the pops ups and advertisements on the websites are also now part of the  advertising  industry. For the big business houses these are standard mode of  advertising  but for the smaller businessmen it is a no-no thing because of the higher budgets. There is no need to get disheartened because these are not the only  advertising  ideas or ways to promote your product. Distributing pamphlets, use of salesperson are also the cheap and effective ways of  advertising . One needs to understand that anything that will make sure that the customer gets to know about your product is a way of  advertising .

To name a few of the cheap and better  advertising  ideas you can count on distributing the pamphlets and flyers in the areas that are in your reach. Through these flyers you can also distribute the discount coupons. These coupons will get the people discussing your product and the contemporary wisdom says that the word of mouth is still the best way to go about the  advertising .

In modern times internet has become such a powerful medium that you can achieve unbelievable results with its reach. You can make a website detailing your product or service. Along with this also make use of the various social networking websites like Facebook, orkut etc. by dedicating a page on them to your product. If you can further spend a little more time you can also make a monthly newsletter relating to your product and send a mass email to the people. In the newsletter make sure that you detail all the good things about your product and also offer some good discounts. This is sure to set some of the tongues waging.

Make yourself a regular member of the business sittings in your locality. Discuss about your product with other people. They might give you some nice  advertising  ideas. The more you keep your eyes and ears open the more you are bound to gain. Project yourself as the key player in the niche of your product and make sure that your product as though it is the only viable option available in the market. These  advertising  ideas are sure to make your project a hit in the market.

Radio Advertising Commandments – Part 1

In my last article “Local  Advertising  – The Biggest Mistakes” we took a look at the major media available for local advertisers to market their products. To follow up, I’d like to discuss the many uses of Radio. Sort of the 10 Commandments Of Radio  Advertising . This will take up several pages, for sure, so I’ll start by asking the most obvious radio questions.

Q: How do I know if radio will work for me & why should I use radio?

A: I usually have gotten these questions when a client is afraid & can’t stomach the idea of paying for an Advertisement that they can’t physically hold on to. In other words, they think that if they can’t SEE their Ad, then no one else can. They seem to have a hard time believing that a disembodied radio voice can move people to buy their product.

Yes, it’s probably true that most advertisers get their feet wet with print  advertising . Your typical print advertiser will place an Ad in a local weekly or daily newspaper and bingo, the next day – traffic. The results can be quite immediate.

Radio is a different animal and although it can work as effectively as print, it can be equally disappointing to a seasoned print advertiser.

Local radio  advertising  can turn off a new advertiser who expects immediate results, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 10 reasons why “immediate results” are hard to come by:

1) the spots were not aggressive enough

2) the offer was not strong enough

3) there was not enough weight (number of spots) booked

4) the wrong local radio station was used to reach the desired market

5) not enough radio stations were booked

6) only radio was used

7) spots were poorly placed throughout the day

8) the production was poorly executed or the wrong announcer used

9) timing of the campaign was off

10) the new client had no name recognition

This brings me to Commandment #1

Don’t Underestimate The Power of Radio.

The voice is a wonderful thing.

Used properly, it can move you to tears, unleash a fury of anger, sooth both physical and mental pain, irritate you like chalk on a blackboard, hypnotize you into the most embarrassing behaviour, fire you up & motivate you to accomplish the most daunting tasks, fire up a nation to battle, seduce the most cold-hearted soul and yes, it can certainly convince you to happily part with your money.

In fact, the people who make radio production their livelyhood, are paid quite handsomely to get you to do things that are not on your priority list.

Ever listen to a movie trailer? Listen to the announcer. His job is to get you to see that movie. Whether you realize it or not, the impact of that voice lasts longer than you may be aware of.

You may remember the visuals, but it is the EMOTIONAL AUDIO IMPRINT that leaves you with a “I’ve got to see this when it comes out!” memory.

It is the same subliminal effect that radio can create.

The problem faced, is that most radio production quality can often be sub-standard.

Let’s face it – the radio station copywriters are under the gun to write & produce dozens of spots a day & there just isn’t enough time to write super creative & dynamic commercials. Even if the copywriter can squeeze out something really hot, there is often a lack of voice-over talent to make it happen. Let’s not talk about the studio engineer’s backlog!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have an effective radio spot come out of a radio station. It just means that to make it more effective, you may have to go to a third party production house to get your spots professionaly produced.

This brings me to Radio Commandment #2

Get The Best Creative Production Possible

Why do you want the best creative possible? Well, there are several reasons.

1) it makes your  advertising  more effective

2) the cost of your campaign can actually be lower if more people respond to a better commercial, as fewer spots are necessary to make the same impact

3) better creative is more memorable.

4) strong creativity entertains and sells at the same time

5) powerful creative radio spots get people talking about the spot & consequently the product

“OK,” you’re saying, “but this sounds like it’s going to cost a fortune!”

Nothing could be further from the truth. What will cost you a fortune, is a radio  advertising  campaign that falls flat because the production was not up to scratch!

Remember,  advertising  is an investment if you eventually get back more than you paid. It’s a fortune if you don’t get back anything!

In order to make sure that there’s a payback, I highly recommend you look at all the variables and creative production is high on the list!

This brings me to Radio Commandment #3

Develop A Strategy & Stick With It

There are many ways to use radio. Short campaigns, long campaigns, image building, promotions, product launches etc.

The first thing to be aware of is that new advertisers have to develop name recognition with a station’s audience. This isn’t as important for long time advertisers who have used other media, but it is crucial for first-timers.

Well known advertisers are seen as reliable and trustworthy. The longer you advertise, the more favour you win with listeners. It is like money in the bank.

I advise all new advertisers to start with an introduction campaign to highlight who they are, what their product is and the benefits of shopping at their store.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t break the rules and have a grand opening with a fantastic door crasher special. Certainly that will work. But ideally, the best results for that type of scenario come when a “teaser campaign” precedes the grand opening.

Let me state that much of the advice offered here is what I believe to be the “safe route” to effective radio  advertising . Even under less optimal conditions, radio can be quite effective!

What you want to do, however, is not succeed by throwing tons of money into your  advertising , but rather cover all the essentials so that you have an effective and cost efficient campaign.

Good planning can go a long way.

In my next article I’ll continue with commandment #4

Use The Right Music Bed

The Top Five Secrets To Advertising Strategies – Starting With Your First Ad

Today, most advertising strategies focus on achieving three general goals, as the Small Business Administration indicated in Advertising Your Business:

1) promote awareness of a business and its product or services;

2) stimulate sales directly and “attract competitors’ customers”; and

3) establish or modify a business’ image. In other words, advertising seeks to inform, persuade, and remind the consumer. With these aims in mind, most businesses follow a general process which ties advertising into the other promotional efforts and overall marketing objectives of the business.

An advertising strategy is a campaign developed to communicate ideas about products and services to potential consumers in the hopes of convincing them to buy those products and services. This strategy, when built in a rational and intelligent manner, will reflect other business considerations (overall budget, brand recognition efforts) and objectives (public image enhancement, market share growth) as well. Even though a small business has limited capital and is unable to devote as much money to advertising as a large corporation, it can still develop a highly effective advertising campaign. The key is creative and flexible planning, based on an in-depth knowledge of the target consumer and the avenues that can be utilized to reach that consumer.

STAGES OF ADVERTISING STRATEGY

As a business begins, one of the major goals of advertising must be to generate awareness of the business and its products. Once the business’ reputation is established and its products are positioned within the market, the amount of resources used for advertising will decrease as the consumer develops a kind of loyalty to the product. Ideally, this established and ever-growing consumer base will eventually aid the company in its efforts to carry their advertising message out into the market, both through its purchasing actions and its testimonials on behalf of the product or service.

Essential to this rather abstract process is the development of a “positioning statement, a positioning statement explains how a company’s product (or service) is differentiated from those of key competitors. With this statement, the business owner turns intellectual objectives into concrete plans. In addition, this statement acts as the foundation for the development of a selling proposal, which is composed of the elements that will make up the advertising message’s “copy platform.” This platform delineates the images, copy, and art work that the business owner believes will sell the product.

With these concrete objectives, the following elements of the advertising strategy need to be considered: target audience, product concept, communication media, and advertising message. These elements are at the core of an advertising strategy, and are often referred to as the “creative mix.” Again, what most advertisers stress from the beginning is clear planning and flexibility. And key to these aims is creativity, and the ability to adapt to new market trends. A rigid advertising strategy often leads to a loss of market share. Therefore, the core elements of the advertising strategy need to mix in a way that allows the message to envelope the target consumer, providing ample opportunity for this consumer to become acquainted with the advertising message.

1. TARGET CONSUMER The target consumer is a complex combination of persons. It includes the person who ultimately buys the product, as well as those who decide what product will be bought (but don’t physically buy it), and those who influence product purchases, such as children, spouse, and friends. In order to identify the target consumer, and the forces acting upon any purchasing decision, it is important to define three general criteria in relation to that consumer, as discussed by the Small Business Administration:

1. Demographics-Age, gender, job, income, ethnicity, and hobbies.

2. Behaviors-When considering the consumers’ behavior an advertiser needs to examine the consumers’ awareness of the business and its competition, the type of vendors and services the consumer currently uses, and the types of appeals that are likely to convince the consumer to give the advertiser’s product or service a chance.

3. Needs and Desires-here an advertiser must determine the consumer needs-both in practical terms and in terms of self-image, etc.-and the kind of pitch/message that will convince the consumer that the advertiser’s services or products can fulfill those needs.

2. PRODUCT CONCEPT The product concept grows out of the guidelines established in the “positioning statement.” How the product is positioned within the market will dictate the kind of values the product represents, and thus how the target consumer will receive that product. Therefore, it is important to remember that no product is just itself, but, a “bundle of values” that the consumer needs to be able to identify with. Whether couched in presentations that emphasize sex, humor, romance, science, masculinity, or femininity, the consumer must be able to believe in the product’s representation.

3. COMMUNICATION MEDIA The communication media is the means by which the advertising message is transmitted to the consumer. In addition to marketing objectives and budgetary restraints, the characteristics of the target consumer need to be considered as an advertiser decides what media to use. The types of media categories from which advertisers can choose include the following:

o Print-primarily newspapers (both weekly and daily) and magazines.

o Audio-FM and AM radio.

o Video-Promotional videos, infomercials.

o World Wide Web.

o Direct mail.

o Outdoor advertising-Billboards, advertisements on public transportation (cabs, buses).

After deciding on the medium that is 1) financially in reach, and 2) most likely to reach the target audience, an advertiser needs to schedule the broadcasting of that advertising. The media schedule, as defined by Hills, is “the combination of specific times (for example, by day, week, and month) when advertisements are inserted into media vehicles and delivered to target audiences.”

4. ADVERTISING MESSAGE An advertising message is guided by the “advertising or copy platform,” which is a combination of the marketing objectives, copy, art, and production values. This combination is best realized after the target consumer has been analyzed, the product concept has been established, and the media and vehicles have been chosen. At this point, the advertising message can be directed at a very concrete audience to achieve very specific goals. There are three major areas that an advertiser should consider when endeavoring to develop an effective “advertising platform”:

o What are the product’s unique features?

o How do consumers evaluate the product? What is likely to persuade them to purchase the product?

o How do competitors rank in the eyes of the consumer? Are there any weaknesses in their positions? What are their strengths?

Most business consultants recommend employing an advertising agency to create the art work and write the copy. However, many small businesses don’t have the up-front capital to hire such an agency, and therefore need to create their own advertising pieces. When doing this a business owner needs to follow a few important guidelines.

5. COPY When composing advertising copy it is crucial to remember that the primary aim is to communicate information about the business and its products and services. The “selling proposal” can act as a blueprint here, ensuring that the advertising fits the overall marketing objectives. Many companies utilize a theme or a slogan as the centerpiece of such efforts, emphasizing major attributes of the business’s products or services in the process. While something must be used to animate the theme …care must be taken not to lose the underlying message in the pursuit of memorable advertising.”

When writing the copy, direct language (saying exactly what you mean in a positive, rather than negative manner) has been shown to be the most effective. The theory here is that the less the audience has to interpret, or unravel the message, the easier the message will be to read, understand, and act upon. As Jerry Fisher observed in Entrepreneur, “Two-syllable phrases like ‘free book,’ ‘fast help,’ and ‘lose weight’ are the kind of advertising messages that don’t need to be read to be effective. By that I mean they are so easy for the brain to interpret as a whole thought that they’re ‘read’ in an eye blink rather than as linear verbiage. So for an advertiser trying to get attention in a world awash in advertising images, it makes sense to try this message-in-an-eye-blink route to the public consciousness-be it for a sales slogan or even a product name.”

The copy content needs to be clearly written, following conventional grammatical guidelines. Of course, effective headings allow the reader to get a sense of the advertisement’s central theme without having to read much of the copy. An advertisement that has “50% off” in bold black letters is not just easy to read, but it is also easy to understand.

Pixel Advertising: Fad or Trend?

Pixel  advertising  is an innovative marketing concept introduced by 22-year-old Alex Tew that allows advertisers to buy  advertising  space on a per-pixel cost basis. The more pixels an advertiser buys, the larger their ad and the greater the chance that it will be clicked on. Selling one million pixels at $1 each, Alex’s Million Dollar Homepage has created quite a buzz in the news media and has easily reached its $1 million target.

Thanks to the stunning success of Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage (MDHP), pixel ad sites have mushroomed all over the net. There are even commercial scripts that you can buy that will allow you to set up your own million-dollar homepage in less than 15 minutes. However, this does not mean you’ll make a million dollars…or even a thousand dollars…or even the cost of the script.

Alex Tew’s pixel  advertising  concept was simple, so simple that it eventually led many people to pound their heads on the wall repeating to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of this first?” But his idea was also novel and original. And because of its novelty it commanded a lot of attention (and free publicity) from the media.

Needless to say, no news organization will rush to report about a second million-dollar homepage, let alone one set up in 15 minutes with a purchased script. This is not to say, however, that there is no room in cyberspace for the second or third or even thousandth MDHP. In fact, there are presently at least a thousand MDHP clones hoping to capitalize on the pixel  advertising  craze. Many of them have managed to make a lot of money despite not being the original.

Some people view MDHP clones as little more than shameless imitations trying to leech off Tew’s original concept. This would be the case if his idea, while fun and original, has little use beyond his website.

On the contrary, the clones have proved quite the opposite. Their successes have demonstrated that Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage was worth much more than $1 million. Moreover, they have lend legitimacy to the concept of pixel .

While the original MDHP has made “internet history” (in Tew’s words) by achieving its $1 million goal, it is unlikely to become anything more than just a blip in internet history if the concept is not adopted and refined by others. In fact, most MDHP clones have achieved their riches not by ripping off Tew’s site verbatim, but by borrowing his pixel  advertising  concept and finding creative uses for it.

Far from being just a fad, pixel  advertising  holds an enormous promise as an alternative, cost-effective channel for online  advertising . But the concept is still in its infancy, and to avoid becoming internet history, it has to evolve. An important aspect of this evolution is how limitations inherent in the concept itself and in how pixel  advertising  is being used are addressed.

Perhaps the most obvious argument against pixel  advertising  is that its current use is largely limited to websites with seemingly useless clutters of ads with no content whatsoever. At best these sites offer advertisers little more than a source of non-targeted traffic.

An obvious solution to this is to incorporate pixel  advertising  into content-rich sites. Instead of selling pixel  advertising  exclusively through a site with nothing but a giant grid of picture ads, banner-sized pixel grids may be incorporated into a site with real content. A good example of this application is the relatively small and unobtrusive pixel panel placed on http://www.ezclassifieds.org/. Since most people go to ezClassifieds.org to post and look at ads, the site is an ideal place to offer pixel  advertising  to visitors. Obviously, incorporating pixel ads into content sites involves a lot more work than installing a ready-made script on a new domain. It involves developing a content-rich site and *then* offering pixel ads as an alternative to text links and traditional banner ads.

Used in this way, pixel ads are at the very least superior to traditional banner ads. Unlike traditional banners, a pixel banner may contain ads for several advertisers. Plus, pixel ads are not confined to predetermined shapes and sizes. Many pixel ad scripts will automatically resize images submitted by advertisers, eliminating the need to edit them to conform to the publisher’s requirements. Purchasing pixel ads is usually painless and often fully automated. Since most people have grown accustomed to ignore banner ads, pixel ads are likely to generate higher click-through rates.

Copyright 2006 Oudam Em

Ethics in Advertising

Introduction

Ethics have always been an important aspect of every business activity, although the term has meant different things at different times in different lands to different people. Nonetheless, as ethical concerns are an inseparable element of business, advertising can not ignore them. Sadly, the advertising industry has rarely cared to look beyond immediate marketing objectives. The argument in the industry is that it is the government’s job to judge what is right and what is wrong. Shirking its own responsibility for regulation, the industry has belittled business values and agencies have harmed their balance sheets.

For any business, customer is very important, and businessman attempt to communicate to all their target customers using means of communication like advertising and sales promotion. Advertising is a very powerful and most commonly used tool.

Benefits of advertising

o Communication

The organization has to attract the customer and create a market for its products. For this purpose, advertising is the most powerful and widely used tool for communicating message regarding products/services to a large target audience.

o To raise the standard of living

In our developing economy, adverting with its micro and macro level influences, exerts vast and varied influences that have played key role in raising the standards of physical and material well being of the Indian society.

o To make market competitive

In India, one finds many innovations being introduced which has changed the market structure from seller’s market, and thus the result is more competitive market conditions.

o Product differentiation

It is a fact that advertising brings about products variety through real and psychological product differentiation.

Critical evaluation of advertising

Though many benefits are achieved through advertisements, the ad message is becoming more and more exaggerated. To achieve competitive advantage, advertising magnifies unimportant differences, resorts to clever, tricky product promises, and claims more and more unbelievable benefits. The customer finds many advertisements as false, deceptive, or misleading. Consumers are uncertain regarding whether or not the performance of a product purchased will in fact meet their needs. If they find that the product lacks in quality, advantage, durability etc., as advertised they might not buy it again, and develop an aversion to every other product of that company.

Unethical advertising

Advertisement is considered unethical in the following situations;

o When it has degraded or underestimated the substitute or rival’s product.

o When it gives false or misleading information on the value of the product.

o When it fails to give useful information on the possible reaction or side effects of the product. And

o When it is immoral.

Ways of misleading the consumers

o Many a time, traders entice the customers into their stores by advertising goods at a very low price, but they stock only a handful of such sale items in the store. When the advertised goods are sold out, consumers are steered towards the higher-priced stock or lower quality goods.

Retailers must ensure that reasonable supply of products is available during the sales, and retailers should not purposely avoid it. Retailers should make it clear in the advertisement that how many items on sale are available or when the sale ends.

o Sale offer should be for a limited period. Advertisement should declare that sale offer is for a limited time period. The period of the offer should be made clear in the advertisement only when the advertised goods are available for a limited period or stocks are limited.

o Traders often offer insignificant price reduction. To illustrate, a trader may advertise that the price of product is reduced to Rs.99.95, when the normal selling price is Rs.100.. The trader must include the normal selling price and discounted price in his offer .The trader sale offer is misleading if the trader claims the product is below cost , when the price is not below cost after discounts, rebates and other allowances it is misleading if the trader simply shows a fictitious higher price as normal selling price in the advertisement.

o Advertisement must clearly indicate the total price of goods or services. All price comparison must be truthful and must not intentionally or unintentionally mislead the consumers. Under the Fair Trade Practices Act, retailers have an obligation to ensure that they do not mislead or make false representations to customers with respect to price of the goods. The consumers who shop around and compare the prices of various products are less likely to be deceived by misleading claims consumers should also be aware of what is a reasonable price of goods and not take any advertised discounts at face value.

o While many sales are legitimate or genuine, the consumers should not get attracted to such sales offers i.e., “Hurry…very few days remain for sale”. The consumers should be aware of what to expect when retailers place items on sale and how to avoid being misled by discount advertisements. A marketer should take care to ensure that when goods or services are advertised to be available at a discount or as being on sale, it is a genuine discount or sale.

Remedies to overcome deceptive advertisements

o Cease-and- Desist Orders

The cease-and-desist orders, which prohibit the respondent from engaging any more in deceptive practice, are actually the only formal procedure established by the Federal Trade Commission Act for enforcing the prohibition of ‘ deceptive acts and practices.”

o Restitution

Restitution means the consumer is compensated for any damage caused to him by the product that had advertised claims not adequately substantiated. Restitution is rarely considered because of its severity.

o Affirmative Disclosures

If an advertisement has provided insufficient information to the consumers, an affirmative disclosure might be issued Affirmative disclosure require ‘clear and conspicuous disclosure’ of omitted information. Often the involved information relates to the deficiency or limitations of the product or service possibly relating to matters of health or safety.

o Corrective Advertising

Corrective Advertising requires the advertisers to verify past deception by making suitable amendment in any of its future commercial.

Self Regulation in Advertising

It is our responsibility to regulate our operations. And we must do it ourselves. Self regulation is not a quick-fix solution; it will be completely ineffective with out commitment from and the integrity of one and all. Self Regulation may require the following;

o The development of a self-regulatory code of conduct covering all forms of media that is sensitive to ethics, legalities, decency and truthfulness in advertising.

o Provision for monitoring and accountability, including a policy allowing for the removal of ads that violate the code.

o Greater participation of advertising professionals in the regulatory process.

o The inclusion of non-industry players in the process

o Consumer awareness of the self regulation system.

o Simplification of the complaint process against ads.

o Transparency throughout the entire system.

These reforms will achieve three goals. They will make the industry accountable for its actions. They will make regulators and critics think twice before attacking the industry and finally they will lead the public to trust ads, advertisers and agencies.

Conclusion

Reputable companies and advertising agencies avoid telling lies. They realize the cost of being caught. A dent in trust can prove to be much costlier than the failure of an ad campaign or for that matter, even a brand. The challenge before advertisers and agencies is to ensure that ads reflect our values. We must endeavor to see that “advertising” does not remain a dirty word.

8 Ways Companies Waste Advertising Dollars

I understand, running a business is tough. Tons to do. Even more to think about. But, have you thought about how you are wasting those precious few  advertising  dollars? We see money wasted everyday in  advertising , here are some of the most common ways:

1) Inconsistency – Rollercoaster  advertising  is not as fun as it sounds. Rollercoaster  advertising  is when companies don’t stay in front of their customers. Business slows down so the company responds by doing some  advertising . They soon get busy and the attention gets directed to serving the recent influx of business. Soon, that new business is starting to wane, and its time to ramp up the ad machine again. If you will consistently advertise to your perfect customer your rollercoaster will level out and you can ride that train to the bank.

2) “Me Too”  Advertising  – Do you remember the “Got Milk?” campaign? Of couse you do. Its one of the best campaigns of the 90’s. Do you remember all the knockoff campaigns that it spawned. T-shirts, billboards, magazine ads everywhere had “Got _______?” in that nice narrow font. Do you remember any of the companies that did the knockoffs? I didn’t think so. “Me Too!”  advertising  is jumping on a band wagon of a concept or tactic that works. Unfortunately, the “me too”ers seldom see the same returns. Be original, set the bar and let everyone else say “Me Too!” to your  advertising .

3) Shotgun  Advertising  – This spray and pray method of  advertising  to EVERYONE is costly and not very profitable. It gets expensive trying to flood the marketplace with your message in hopes of hitting the perfect customer. Every time your message lands on the wrong customer you waste money. You may wonder why “the big boys” use so much of the mass market  advertising , its because they can afford to. But in recent years they are learning that targeting specific customers that are ideally compatible with their message is paying off more than hitting everyone with the same ad.

4) Wrong Vehicle – Using mass transit  advertising  to market a kitchen utensil to stay at home moms doesn’t sound like a good Idea, right? It’s not. Stay at home moms are called that for a reason. They stay at home. They don’t use mass transit very often. So why do companies use  advertising  vehicles that won’t reach their perfect customer? Choose the  advertising  vehicle that best fits the needs of that one customer that your product speaks directly to. Its kind of like using a tank to go water skiing, it might pull you but it won’t work that well.

5) Wrong Customer – Have you tried to sell tractors to a stock broker? It ain’t easy. Choosing the right customer is half of the battle in  advertising . Many companies say our target market is the whole world. That is a bit of a contradiction. Take an inventory of what needs your product or service fills. Look at what customers have the demographic and psychographic qualities that fit your product offer. Then work to craft a message that speaks directly to them and their needs. They are the right customer, speak to them.

6) Too Big – Every year a few companies spend millions on a single 30 second spot during the super bowl. If you remember the DotCom boom the Super Bowl broadcast was filled with quirky sometimes weird ads that “promoted” a website. A few years later, 90% of those companies were no where to be found. Would that money been better used in a consistent, targeted, custom message to the right customer? Guaranteed. Would they still be in business today? No way to know. My advice, don’t spend  advertising  dollars on placement that is beyond your reach. Especially if your haven’t tested the message. Think Big, Work Small.

7) Too Small – Money is tight. I get it. But, try to push yourself to the next level when it comes to your ad budget. I know it sounds weird after the last point. But I said the “next” level not the next stratosphere. If you wish to reach your perfect customer, they have to know you exist. You must let them know what you offer and how it meets their needs. Test your message as cheaply as you can. When you find a message that works, go big. Take a few risks, step out of your comfort zone. To get something different, you must do something different.

8) Poor Brand – What is your brand? Your brand is your look, your message, your value, your overall marketing message. Do you have a strong brand? Can you convey your message in 2 sentences? Do you speak to your Perfect Customer with every market touch point? Do the answers to these questions evade you? That probably means your brand isn’t as strong as it should be. Branding is probably the most important part of  advertising . Invest in your brand, it pays dividends.

If you can avoid these few mistakes, your  advertising  can be the life-blood of your business. If you fear making an  advertising  mistake, send us an email at [email protected] we be glad to help you through it.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Combs

Lead Cre8ive, Cre8iveDept.com

Introduction to Online Advertising

Our next lesson covers the main items for online advertising. Advertising is probably the most important promotion tool for big brick-and-mortar companies. However, with a SEM businesses, advertising is only a supporting factor. The problem is that the majority of SEM businesses lack the scale to be able to effectively contact large numbers of prospects and clients. Furthermore, there aren’t many places on the Web where prospective clients come in flocks. Therefore, advertising is largely PPC-oriented.

Actually, online advertising is advertising on the Internet. This particular form of advertising is a source of revenue for an increasing number of websites and companies.

A significant number of firms, from small businesses to multinational corporations, incorporate online advertising into their marketing strategy. Online advertisements typically involve at least two separate firms: the advertiser or agency which purchases or sponsors the advertisement and the publisher or network which distributes the ad for display. Because of the close relationship between technical innovation and online advertising, many firms specialize in both. For example, most search engines couple their search service with an advertising program, exploiting the benefits of keyword-based search technology by including ads in search results.

Let’s look closer on the most popular online advertising form as traditional banner. PPC advertising form will be explained in details in 8 lessons of our next Step.

Traditional Banner

A Web banner or banner ad is a widely used form of advertising on the Internet. This kind of online advertising entails embedding an advertisement into a Web page. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking them to the advertiser’s website.

Generally the advertisement is constructed from an image (GIF, JPEG, PNG), JavaScript program or multimedia object employing technologies such as Java, Shockwave or Flash, and often employing animation or sound to maximize presence. Images are usually in a high-aspect ratio shape. Banners are usually placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

The Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression“. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”. Many banner ads work on a click-through payback system.

At the base of a click-through system are mathematical calculations of the number of users (users clicking on an ad) divided by impression number. We remember that the term impression means the number of times the ad was delivered. For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%.

It should be noted that banner ad click-through rates have fallen over time, often measuring significantly less than 1% and choice of an appropriate advertising site with high affinity is very important crucial factor in this situation. Personalized ads, unusual formats, and more obtrusive ads typically have higher click-through rates than standard banner ads.

When the advertiser scans their log files and detects that a Web user has visited the advertiser’s site from the content site by clicking on the banner ad, the advertiser sends the content provider a small amount of money (usually around five to ten US cents). This payback system is often how the content provider is able to pay for the Internet access to supply the content in the first place.

Nine Common Banner Ad Mistakes to Avoid

Banner advertising expert Rob Frankel advises e-marketers to avoid the following mistakes when creating their banner ads:

  1. Overloaded. Too many colors. Too slow to load. Too hard to read. Nobody wants to grow old waiting for your banner ad to load. Frankel advises designing banner ads that will load and view easily with last year’s technology. “Personally, I design pages for people running no more than Netscape 2.0 on the equivalent of a 486 running at 66 MHz and 256 colors,” says Frankel. “That means your art should still be no deeper than eight bits, unless you’re a true minimalist and can bring it in at no more than four.”
  2. Unattractive. People like good-looking stuff. What works for Cindy Crawford can work for you, too. So if you’re not a digital Da Vinci, find someone who is and pay him or her a few bucks to make your banner look great.
  3. Too many bells and whistles. Just because technology offers you bells and whistles doesn’t mean you have to use every one of them. Chances are that the average Web surfer has been through several sites before he or she gets to your banner. Give the reader a break. Don’t overdo motion, movement, or message changes. And allow some time to digest what you’re displaying.
  4. Illiteracy and illegibility. These are the ads that make you scrunch up your face and twist your head trying to make some sense out of the illegible scrawls that some knucklehead thinks are cool. But prospects don’t care how cool you think it looks. If they can’t read it, you’ve lost any chance of their clicking on it.
  5. Missing link. Your banner looks great but isn’t linked to anything. That’s a mistake that anyone should be able to detect and prevent with a simple check.
  6. Link errors. Your banner looks great. The link works… directly to a 404 message (meaning the requested Web page was not found). Maybe this one isn’t your fault. Maybe your webmaster inadvertently forgot to tell you he or she switched servers. But even if it was the webmaster’s fault, who do you think will catch the blame? Keep checking those banner links every few days.
  7. Weak message. The same things that make good ads make good banners. Unfortunately, the same things that make bad ads make horrible banners. If you don’t know how to write and design a clever, compelling message, hire someone who does. Nothing turns off poten­tial prospects more than a really stupid attempt at being clever, an offense usually committed with the aid of a bad pun. Remember that your ad is a representative of you, containing a smattering of your personality and ability. If it looks dopey to a viewer, guess what they’re going to think about you? It’s better to be clear than clever.
  8. Confusing message. Your banner looks pretty, but nobody understands what the heck you’re talking about. This is the number-one mistake made by do-it-yourselfers.
  9. Boring banners. One common mistake is that your banner doesn’t compel your recipients to respond within a certain time frame. Without a deadline, there is no immediacy to act, which means they scroll away until they forget it.

Web banners function the same way as traditional advertisements are intended to function: notifying consumers of the product or service and presenting reasons why the consumer should choose the product in question, although Web banners differ in that the results for advertisement campaigns may be monitored real-time and may be targeted to the viewer’s interests.

The evidence shows that Web banner ads are restricted by high cost and limited physical banner area. Let’s look at the Marketplace section of SearchEngineWatch.com:

Out of 10 advertisers only 3 are in the SEM services business. These companies – BruceClay, KeywordRanking and MoreVisibility – are the largest players in the industry; they have enough wherewithal to run these ads and enough resources to satisfy a large flow of traffic.

Pay per click advertising

Pay per click or PPC advertising is an arrangement in which webmasters (operators of websites), acting as publishers, display clickable links from advertisers, in exchange for a charge per click. As this industry evolved, a number of advertising networks developed which acted as middlemen between these two groups (publishers and advertisers). Each time a (believed to be) valid Web user clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays the advertising network, who in turn pays the publisher a share of this money. This revenue sharing system is seen as an incentive for click fraud.

Though many companies offer pay per click system as one of their services. Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and MSN AdCenter are top players in this field.

As far as PPC advertising is the first advertising option for any new on-line businesses it became one of the dominant and widely used marketing tools.

What you should remember:

  1. A Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression”. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”.
  2. Banners should be placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.