Understanding Web Advertising
More money is wasted on advertising then any other business function. That is not to say businesses shouldn’t advertise but rather people should understand how advertising works. There are many ways to characterize ads but for our purposes let’s make it simple and separate advertising into two distinct approaches: saturation and emotional.
One of the things I’ve learned over a long career is that business folk invariably take their lead from the wrong sources. Small and medium size businesses look to the mega corporations to learn their tricks and adopt their attitudes when they have little in common – advertising being no exception. Since our clients are mostly medium or small size companies we try to help put some of these issues into perspective.
If you’re big enough and have the money available there are all kinds of marketing initiatives you can invest in, but if you have a limited marketing budget you need to be smart about how and on what you spend your advertising dollars. And the most effective and cost efficient place to spend those dollars is on your website. Yes you need to attract people to your site but if once they arrive they find it lacks intriguing, engaging content then you’ve wasted your money. So what tactical approach should you take to deliver your marketing message?
The first approach is saturation advertising like you see on television. Anyone who has spent an evening sitting in front of the TV set is familiar with what I am talking about: the constant repetition of the same commercials over and over until the ads become an unwelcome irritation. The fact is no matter what you do to avoid commercials they eventually seep into your head. Even fast forwarding through commercials on a recorded program has an effect. Saturation advertising depends on repetition not quality, which is why some of the worst and/or stupidest commercials can still be effective.
There are some great commercials on television that do engage the audience with an entertaining, memorable, marketing message that enhances the brand and generates leads, but when push comes to shove, television advertising is all about repetition not quality.
Does Saturation Advertising Work?
Does saturation advertising work? The short answer is yes it does, at least for a television audience it does. Most people believe that it works on others but not on them, a phenomenon, psychologists call the Third Party Effect. The fact is, repeating something automatically makes it appear more believable.
The majority of people will respond that they don’t pay attention to commercials, but inattention does not protect you from the influence of repeated messaging. In fact bad commercials work better if the audience isn’t really paying attention, and fail when the audience is actually listening carefully. Careful attention brings to light all a message’s conceptual, technical and performance issues.
Will Saturation Advertising Work For You?
But saturation advertising is expensive because it relies on huge media buys in order to get the required number of repetitions needed to worm its way into an audience’s collective consciousness. It’s a messaging tactic that depends on deep pockets and that rules it out for most companies. Advertising that depends on constant repetition just won’t work on the Web unless it’s merely to supplement an existing extensive integrated television and print campaign.
Just as an aside, the music industry uses the same tactic. The constant repetition of a song even of inferior quality but with minimum rhythmic value and a repetitive catchy chorus can become a hit if heard often enough on the radio or on television in a music video. And like most saturation advertising it’s controlled by whoever has the most money available to purchase audience access. The same holds true for political advertising. Politicians can get away with the most incredible nonsense if they raised enough money to drown-out their opposition.
The Web is a different communi