This Is Not Advertising That Works

July 10, 2013
In advertising, impressions are not conversions.

On a recent trip to Dallas I drove past one of those “Does advertising work? Just did!” billboards. As a marketer I hate them because they give people the idea that slapping an ad on a roadside billboard will mean marketing success. Everyone say it with me, please...

Impressions are not conversions

  • Impressions - How often your ad is shown
  • Conversion - When someone completes the action you want them to after viewing your ad

In most cases, an ad or marketing campaign is not considered successful unless it results in conversions. A million people might drive by those billboards (impressions), but until someone calls the number and rents the billboard for his or her own advertising (conversion), the campaign is not reaching its goal.

Success requires strategy

Currently the only thing these billboards succeed at is making me roll my eyes at their dumb, uncompelling advertising — there’s nothing to it but a lame attempt at humor, and a kind of smugness at the campaign’s assumed success. It’s laziness, pure and simple.

If the owners of these billboards want to be successful (i.e. rent the billboard out to advertisers), they need to think strategically — they need to compel people to call.

The ads don’t even have to be amazingly creative or unique. How about instead of their boring “Does advertising work?” line they instead use things like this:

  • 58% of viewers visited restaurants advertised on billboards just like this one
  • 32% of viewers visited retailers advertised on billboards just like this one
  • 24% of viewers have immediately visited businesses advertised on billboards just like this one

Follow the statistic up with a call-to-action (“Call today to start advertising!”) and include a trackable phone number for reporting purposes, and bam! An infinitely better advertisement.

A little effort is all it takes

Consumers are sick of dumb advertising, and are rapidly getting good at ignoring or avoiding it. It doesn’t take much to create a solid, simple campaign strategy, and consumers (and your ROI) will thank you.