We’ve recently been joined at Site Visibility by Eloi Casali a recent graduate from Brighton University in Communications & Digital Media. We were really impressed with his dissertation about online advertising so we’ve asked him to summarise some of his findings in a series of blog posts, this being the first – Kelvin
Advertising has traditionally been a very expensive/ lucrative business (depending on your perspective) with huge amounts of money being spent with the intention of making the average target consumer aware of a brand.
At the foundation of the pricing of offline advertising is the amount of people that will see the ad (Cost Per Thousand), which is very speculative: Who knows exactly how many people are watching BBC2 at the moment? No-one. Who knows exactly how many people looked at that Nike poster? And more so, who knows how many people bought a Nike product because of that poster?
The success of advertising campaigns has usually been assessed by focus groups and surveys consisting of 10 -500 people being asked what they think or finger in the air estimates. Obviously this raises questions in terms of representation, demographics and the quality of retention of the advertising message. Personally what worries me is that a focus group attendee will remember a product much more after being quizzed about it, perhaps skewing the results (This is part of the conclusion of my final year dissertation: interactivity engages consumers and increases retention of the advertising message). This also means that the brands that spend the most will be remembered not because their advertising is better and more relevant to the consumer, but because it is more “visible” the other brands. Yes, you’ve understood me: traditional advertising is the triumph of capital over quality. Traditional advertising campaigns rely on their style of approach to make us remember their brand: whether they use comedy, annoyingly catchy songs, celebrities or scientific claims, what is rewarded (by awards and bigger contracts) is not the actual performance of the ad but its artistic value.
I am not saying that traditional advertising does not lead to ROI or is a completely speculative area. I do believe broadcasting is necessary to promote FMCGs, but I think for the majority of companies their advertising budgets should be in planning and buying and not in the creative agencies that spend their money on rooms with ceilings painted to look like the sky so that their execs can think ‘better’… This past year I have seen so much more creativity come from Internet users (Check out: Ok Go!, Brave sir Garrick, Evolution of Dance, Scroobius pip’s ‘thou shall not’) than from the big creative agencies.
On the Internet, everything is measurable, and you can compare the performance of campaigns side by side. At Site Visibility I have been focusing mainly on Pay Per Click advertising; here the possibilities of the creative is quite restrictive (4 lines of text) but offer the advantage of being tailored. Furthermore, their impacts are 100% measurable and optimisable, it’s not surprising advertisers are fleeing of advertising on traditional platforms to the Internet.
If traditional advertisers had tools that allowed them to measure consumer responses, reactions and conversions, traditional advertising campaigns might be worth the huge amounts of money pumped into them. For the moment, they are not; artistic value is rewarded, not performance. But with Video on demand making some headway into the UK market and podcast’s continuing to rise in popularity it’ll be interesting to see if they can follow Google & Co’s lead when it comes to measuring a campaigns success.