James likes to say that advertising is an act of faith. That’s generally true, and it’s a concept that I rail against whenever I speak to marketers. The ad industry of the twentieth century was built on a house of sand: immeasurability. Most of the time, most marketers failed to measure most of their advertising spend.
How effective is that full page ad in that industry magazine? How many people actually see that billboard? How many people actually pick up and read your brochure? These are questions that, too often, assaulted the faith of ad buyers everywhere.
Of course, all of that changed with the web, where we can measure the cost of every click, every conversion, every customer. It makes the newspaper ads and movie posters seem hilariously antiquated. When we talk to ad reps on behalf of our clients, we’ve always got an exact cost-per-conversion in mind. If they can’t offer services below that cost, we don’t advertise with them.
Seth articulates this idea in a recent post:
If the local bank were offering a sale on dollar bills, ninety cents each, how many would you buy?
Most rational people would say, “I’ll take them all please.” Especially if you had thirty days to pay for them.
So, why, precisely, do you have an ad budget?
We always discourage our clients from undertaking any advertising that they can’t measure. If they’re running offline ad campaigns, we urge them to have a unique call to action (such as a specific URL) so that they can track a campaign’s effectiveness.
Otherwise, they’re operating on faith alone.