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.

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

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.

What is Product Advertising?

Product  advertising  is a simple idea on paper; but like most things which appear simple at first blush, it can be an incredibly complex one in practice. The idea behind product  advertising  needs no explanation – it is simply presenting a product in the hopes of generating consumer interest. Where things become thornier is when it comes to deciding what benefit the product has to offer and to whom. Identifying a target market and finding the best way to reach these consumers can be challenging in itself. Not every media is ideal for getting your marketing message across to every audience.

The answer to how best to reach the target market often begins with a careful consideration of the product itself; who will use this product’ What are these people most likely to consider the biggest advantages of this product? From this, one can often decide on a strategy in terms of which media will provide their product advertisement which will make an impact on the largest number of consumers within this market, as well as helping to begin coming up with ideas on how to present the product as something which will improve the lives of these consumers.

Along with media placements which will be more likely to directly speak to the target market in question, most successful product  advertising  campaigns will also include  advertising  placements in media which reaches a general audience. After all, no matter how specialized of a niche market you are dealing with, these consumers also watch television; listen to the radio and so on.

Product  advertising  is something which can be so complex that most companies find it useful to engage the services of a marketing or  advertising  agency to handle the work of reaching the consumer. The company can then devote their resources elsewhere, while reaping the benefit of having  advertising  professionals on their side; professionals who know how to speak to consumers and get the company’s message across and have extensive experience in using various forms of media to make a favorable impression on consumers. This is a more cost effective model of product  advertising  for the product manufacturer and permits them to focus on their product and on serving the needs of their customer base.

Mobile Advertising Is Smart Advertising

Mobile Advertising is not just the modern way of promoting your brand but also the smartest way of doing so. Though it is true that not every platform or technique, created with the latest technologies, is an ideal platform to impress audiences, the Mobile Platform is an excellent exception. A mobile phone redefines the concept of personal devices and is seldom kept at a distance which is more than an arm’s length from the user. It is the surest way of reaching and impressing the modern audiences. Some of the reasons, why targeting a user through his mobile is the smartest way of promoting your business, are discussed below.

24/7 Access

For many clients of Mobile Advertising Agencies, the most noteworthy opportunity, which the platform of Mobile Advertising offers, is the ability of round-the-clock targeting. Such a platform provides great freedom for implementing innovative campaigns and thus, easily qualifies as the smartest way of advertising. The 24/7 access also allows multiple campaigns to be targeted at different times of the day.

One-to-One Communication

A Mobile Advertisement has more scopes of being one-to-one communications with the user. The Mobile Ad Copies can be created in such manners that it assumes the form of direct solicitations and are thus better formed for creating user engagement. Since user engagement is the mantra for businesses in the modern markets, this platform is of special significance.

Predictive Advertising

Since the mobile is practically with the person at all times of the day, it can be used to study and predict the behavior of the user. What started as a study of the online behavior of the user is now a full-fledged analysis of even his offline activities. This has been made possible with the incorporation of the GPS into the mobile phones. Now it is possible to analyze the movements of the user and predict his future positions. This can be smartly used for Advertising purposes. For example, if the position of a mobile user is predicted to be at point X during lunch hour, a nearby restaurant can advertise at his mobile with offers and discounts. Quite amazingly, posts that he makes during those periods on the social media platforms can be analyzed to ascertain whether he takes lunch at point X or not.

The Future of Advertising on the Internet

In spite of what some traditionalists say, Mobile Advertising is the future of advertising on the internet platform. As the number of users using internet on the mobiles steadily increase, the scope for Mobile Ads rise with it. With the increase in the capacities of such devices, we are looking at times when they are very likely to completely replace the traditional devices used to access the internet. Thus, creating customized ads for such a platform is definitely the smart thing to do.

A Better Bridge between Businesses and Clients

Remember the times when the consumer had to search for a classified on the local daily, jot down the contact person’s name and phone number? Then, he had to reach for the landline and give him a ring, while hoping that he is nearby to pick up. A juxtaposition of that scenario with the present condition provides a classic reminder of the extents to which the times have changed. There is no longer a need to find ads as they find the consumer on the mobile. He can also call back the advertiser straight from the ad by touching the touch-to-call button.

The smart ways are the optimized ways. In that light, there are hardly any other ways to advertise which are as smart as Mobile Advertising.

The Impact of Advertising on Society

The impact of the advertising company on the society at large has been enormous. Unprecedented sales have been made the world over by listing products and services on TV. The American society belongs to the Television age that loves to just sit and watch all sorts of things on television.

In a world that’s increasingly becoming one small global village, companies cannot help but take advantage of the various mediums created to advertise their goods and services.

Research has shown that immense profit has been recorded by most companies who have invested hugely in advertising. Although no one knows the origin of advertising, time has proven that people’s opinion to buy have been greatly influenced by the impact of advertising.

Show a product over and over again as extremely good for acne, coupled with dazzling pictures of women with clear and bright skin and you will notice the increased demand for the product in the coming weeks and months. The art of advertising has often been criticized by its detractors as a form of deceptive propaganda.

Critics has accused advertising companies of falsely using the power of sound and visual to convince unsuspecting buyers to purchase products that don’t offer what they promise. However you look at this, this is business and companies will use any market strategy that is available to them to sell their product.

Why then do advertising companies spend millions of dollar on marketing their products and services to prospective buyers? The answer is not farfetched! People all over the world want to see results. People need to be convinced all the time that they are actually paying for a good or service that works.

If it’s a cleaning product, people want to visualize the results this product will produce and if it’s a meal they also want to see it cooked and served. There’s power in visualization. It triggers off the imagination which in turn helps to convince the mind.

For some reason, People who watch most commercials on televisions never stop to think for once that this could be all make-believe. As soon as they see a commercial, they begin to actually dream of acquiring the actual product. That’s the power of advertising that has been utilized by some good companies to sell their products and also been used as a medium by some other companies to actually take advantage of potential buyers.

Television commercial/advertising has been in the forefront of the creative industry for over two decades now. The number of advertising companies that have sprang up during this time cannot be numbered.

Needless to say that advertising companies now form a major part of the development economy of many nations. They have created numerous forms of employment for artists, computer scientist, graphic artists, public relations personnel, modelling agencies and models to mention but a few.

Almost all listed fortune 500 companies owe a part of their success to their utilization of efficient advertising companies. In this regards, there are various types of advertising companies. Like in any other industry, there are leaders and there are toddlers.

Certain advertising companies have clearly defined themselves as leaders in business with strong competitors coming fast behind. Others however have however barely managed to make a success of their career and are just merely existing and on the verge of extinction.

Like every other business out there, only the persistent and strong willed will win. Advertising is a serious business. It is not some sort of joke. To be better explained, it is a business that is cut out for the witty. The world of advertising is witty, fast and fiercely competitive. In other words, it’s a world where only the fittest survive.

All said and done, it cannot be denied that advertising has it cons, however its pros outweigh the former. It is indeed a dynamic innovation both in television and in the Arts. It has triggered off imagination and creativity. The advent of the computer and the internet has greatly expanded the mediums and forms of advertising in the world today. No longer is advertising limited to television now but also to other forms of media and multimedia.

Advertising Effectiveness Trends, a Small Survey

In the day to day running of my business, I am discussing marketing strategies with business owners and marketing managers on a daily basis. If you can earn their trust, then they will be very candid with you, especially if you can help them without trying to sell them something.

What resulted from this were some startling admissions that I did not expect. This had me thinking, it can cost an awful lot, especially for the small to medium business owner, to spend money on good market research. So I wondered what the results would look like after a few months if I were to record the marketing success and failure stories after each visit.

I broke this down into respective industries to give more meaning to the results, and also, if available, lend the reasons to these successes and failures. Now I have decided that three month periods will do for data collection as years of research in marketing becomes outdated by the time it is published in the forever increasing and changing monster that is the modern market place. Always ensure research is current and relevant.

Although some of you may want to see raw data, a summary of my finding is all I am going to share in this article sorry! Please take into account that the sample number is in the hundreds, but certainly not in the thousands. The value of this research comes from the honesty of small to medium sized business owners, and the fact they have usually spent the time to talk about these things in detail.

Here are some general trends that I have found;

o Newspaper and radio advertising return on investment continues to decline rapidly.

o The second most effective form of advertising was word of mouth referrals.

o The most effective form tended to be anything unique, e.g. logo and advertisement placement in unexpected places.

o Advertising on product giveaways tends to have a life span of one week, i.e. a company logo on a free pen typically brings in no new revenue one week after it has been given away.

o Advertising discounts were not as effective at getting people through the door as advertising something new.

o Customer loyalty increased with free giveaways, but not so much with advertised discounts.

o Most business owners were dissatisfied with the follow up frequency of advertising sales reps, i.e. after an initial advertising campaign, contact is not made until after an unacceptable length of time.

To bring relevance to these results, one must take into account that this is a small city (about 122,000) and has a large rural support base in outlying areas. These trends show that a need to provide innovative and well maintained advertising service is apparent in this city. Perhaps this is the same elsewhere.

There were some other interesting facts, but these seven findings had the most valid results statistically. If in the future, some other trends become overwhelmingly evident, then I will revise this article.

Will You Help Me With Advertising?

With consumers increasingly tuning out of mainstream media channels and tuning into their iPods, mobile phones and social networks instead, most advertising is going to a dead letter office. At the same time, consumerism continues to flourish. Advertising is for awareness – not credibility. I’ve never said that advertising will go away – it won’t. Despite all the innovation, traditional brand advertising is not about to go away. These companies are successful brand builders, but they would be hard pressed to achieve elite brand status solely on the marketing strength of Google text ads and “buzz” conversations.

It will change many of the rules of what we think advertising is, what marketing is, and what design is. But the purpose of advertising is to expand the customer base by informing more people of the product’s existence and virtues. The more consumers a company attracts to its product, the more it sells. Although interactive advertising is included in the various revenue categories, total online revenue increased by roughly 11% to $3.7 million last year.

Pixel Advertising is the term given to visual advertisements on the web which have their cost calculated dependent on the number of pixels which they occupy. Pixel advertising gained popularity in the last quarter of 2005 when British student Alex Tew created a web site named The Million Dollar Homepage, and solicited advertisers to buy ad space measured in pixels on the homepage. Google’s foray into television advertising is an important test of whether the Internet giant can use its wildly successful system of search advertising in the biggest of media channels. While it is pursuing efforts in print and radio, TV represents the company’s biggest hurdle to achieving its goal of building a broad platform for advertisers to run targeted ad campaigns, continuously changed based on metrics, across all forms of media. The public secret today in online advertising is that PPC based advertising is saturated. Banners are sliding into the land of irrelevance.

While paid advertising is often one small component of a public relations campaign, the most powerful public relations influence is where the connection between the sponsor and the messenger is invisible. This period of American advertising is called the Creative Revolution and its poster boy was Bill Bernbach who helped create the revolutionary Volkswagen ads among others. Some of the most creative and long-standing American advertising dates to this incredibly creative period. The empirical results suggest that if advertising is perceived by producers to be a variable cost then in both provinces producer groups are likely to be overinvesting in advertising.

Advertising is an inescapable part of life, a fact evident each time you turn on the television, drive past endless billboards or sit down to check your email. As a small business owner with a limited budget, you may be more sensitive to the ads surrounding you than most. It also tries to organize all the creative into categories but creative advertising is chaotic– it has never been a science or something easily organized. If you think there’s a formula then you’re wrong. Advertising is not targeted to individual users but may be placed on the site adjacent to content related to advertiser or sponsor interest. Advertising also appears in our weekly newsletter, Housecall.

Advertising is a free speech issue, or at least it ought to be. Because behind today’s anti-ad campaigning there lurks a degrading view of the public as fickle and easily bought off, who must be protected from certain words and imagery by better men and women.

To help create a better experience for users and help encourage users to create better, more focused ads that are more appealing to potential customers, the way ads are ranked changes periodically. By improving the quality of ads and making them more relevant to users, you may be rewarded with a better ranking and reduced cost.It all boils down to what you’re selling,audience, and where and when ads are displayed. Also many advertisers are attacking the market through various channels, and are getting increasingly sophisticated in how they market and measure success. Intrusive ads are bad content.

The best ads are those that are complimentary to the content and blend in with the content. If you look at how some bloggers make money through adsense, it reveals their strategy to monetize from their content. Revenue from the ads are split about 50-50.

Strategic Advertising for Real Estate Agents

“99% of  advertising  doesn’t sell a thing.”

Sounds like something a local real estate agent might say after paying for yet another ad that didn’t produce, right?

You might be surprised to learn that the quote actually belongs to David Ogilvy, legendary founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful  advertising  agencies.

Yikes – if a man regarded as a giant in the ad industry is so negative about  advertising’s  success rate, how should you feel?

The Bad News is the Good News…

There is an upside here. If so much of the  advertising  in your local market is ineffective, you can gain a significant edge on your competition by having a better local  advertising  strategy than other agents.

 Advertising  vs.  Advertising  Strategy

Notice that I said a better  advertising  STRATEGY, not simply better  advertising . There’s a big difference.

A better ad might get you a few more leads in the short term. A better  advertising  strategy can help you to have a consistent, meaningful message in your  advertising , and will position you to get more business from your local market on an ongoing basis.

With that in mind, here are three tips to help you define your  advertising  strategy, and put it into action:

1) Have a Strategic Objective In Mind BEFORE you Advertise

 Advertising  for the sake of “building awareness” is probably the fastest way to flush your  advertising  dollars away.

Before you even think about buying an ad, you must have a strategic objective in mind – after all, why should you pay for any type of ad unless it helps you to reach your objective.

Here are just a few questions that you might ask yourself before placing an ad to help define what you want your  advertising  strategy to do for you:

– If I could be known for just one thing in my local market, what would it be?

– Which part of the local real estate market is not currently well serviced by other agents? Is there potential in this neighborhood/age group/demographic profile?

– Which part of the local market is emerging and might be a driving force for sales in future years?

– What’s changing in my market right now – immigration, aging population, young families moving in, etc – and how do I capitalize on the change more effectively than my competitors?

If you can answer even some of these questions, you will probably be on your way to identifying the basis for an  advertising  strategy.

For example, you may determine that based on trends and current prices, your market will become increasingly popular with first time homebuyers. As a result, your strategic objective may be to use your  advertising  to become recognized as the local expert in serving first time homebuyers.

2) Have a Specific Objective for Each Ad you Place within your Strategy

With a clear objective as part of your  advertising  strategy, you can now think about investing in ads that support your objective.

Here’s a tip – you can create  advertising  that generates an immediate response while also serving to build your brand in a particular market.

Continuing with the above example, if you ran a series of ads in the local newspaper offering a free “First-Time Homebuyers Report” available from your website, you would actually be running a direct response ad (aimed at getting people to download the report) that also delivered a brand building message (the message being that you are the agent for first time homebuyers to call because you are the expert in that field).

You can measure the success of the ad by looking at the number of downloads from your site while the ad was running – since generating downloads was the specific objective of the ad. If the ads don’t generate enough downloads to justify the cost, pull them or change them. Ads are only valuable if they get you closer to achieving your strategic objective.

3) Be Consistent

All of your  advertising  (online, print, directory, flyers, etc) should be similar in both style and substance within your  advertising  strategy.

Yes, a consistent look and style for your ads is important to help you get recognized in a competitive market.

But even more important is being consistent when it comes to the messages in your ads. You can’t buy a Yellow Pages ad that promotes you as the leader in client service, and then advertise your “low low price” in the local newspaper, and then distribute flyers that try to promote you as the family real estate expert.

Your messages can’t conflict! Again, here’s where an  advertising  strategy comes in. With a strategic objective in mind for your  advertising , you will be able to focus your  advertising  dollars on communicating a single, clear message to potential clients about why they should call you.

An  Advertising  Strategy is Critical to your Success

If Mr. Ogilvy was right, then most of the advertisers out there in your real estate market are getting it wrong. This creates a huge opportunity for you to use an  advertising  strategy to drive business and outdo your competitors.

– Have a Strategic Objective for all of your  Advertising  – Know what you want to say about your business, and who you want to say it to within your local market.

– Have an Objective for Each Ad – Measure each ad’s results against the strategic objective you are trying to achieve – if you don’t, how will you know if the ads were successful or not?

– Be Consistent – Make sure all of your ads are focused on helping you reach your strategic objective by communicating a clear message to the market.

 Advertising  can be a tough game, but so can real estate. And in both cases, those with a well thought out strategy will almost always succeed over those that don’t have a plan.