When you’re spending money on advertising, you want every dollar you spend to yield the maximum return. Unless you’re seriously invested in building brand awareness, chances are that result will ultimately be measured in new leads and increased sales. It’s not enough for someone to see your ad and like it, they need to be inspired to buy.
Here’s where a lot of newcomers to advertising make a big misstep: It’s not just about the ad itself. It’s also about the media the ad is running on. If you want to see great results, the media (also called the channel in this context) needs to match the message.
If you’re a cutting-edge technology company focusing on building B2B solutions for online stores, buying a regional TV or radio spot isn’t a good alignment. The bulk of your potential customers might not be in your region, for instance, and even those who are probably aren’t looking for that solution while flipping through channels or listening to the Top 40.
It makes more sense for a technology company to spend their ad dollars being where their customers are actively looking for them, like in Google search results or banner ads on business websites. In fact, it might make sense for this technology company to spend money on a print ad in a regional or national business publication, even though print is part of the “old media.”
On the other hand, if your goal is simply to build awareness, there’s not a huge difference between any channel, or between the new and old media. You’re simply buying access to the biggest audience. This is one reason why only big brands with extremely deep pockets run high-frequency awareness ads and sponsorships. Those ads aren’t directly resulting in sales, and they aren’t intended to. They exist to maintain a presence and a level of visibility for an established brand.
This is true even on the local level. A company that sponsors a local theater company or ballfield isn’t seeing many conversions from their investment. It’s a great way to build goodwill, but a poor method for generating sales.
If you are simply looking to quickly generate leads, or if you have a fully automated sales process through your website, it’s hard not to be a fan of the “new media.” Targeted online ads, mobile ads, AdWords, email, social media and other digital advertising can be extremely powerful. For the right kind of company, the low-cost new-media options can really move the needle. At the same time, digital media is still a little like the Wild West, and it can take a little time to find your footing.
Whatever kind of advertising you go with, from an investment in an established old-media channel or dipping your toes into the possibilities of new media, make sure that you’re setting yourself up to measure your campaign performance. The more hard data you have to work with, the better informed your decisions become. When your advertising doesn’t perform as well as you expected, it’s a clear signal that something isn’t in alignment.