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Tracking Advertising Results

Are you spending your advertising rands sensibly? Here’s how to get results.

Roy Williams




You can’t always track the effectiveness of your adspend. No matter how powerful and persuasive your ad, most of the people you’re paying to reach won’t currently need what you’re selling. But if your ad makes a deep enough impression on them, they’ll remember you when they need you later. That said, ad results can never be tracked.When you want to hold your adspend accountable, there are three ad-tracking strategies to choose from:

Strategy#1: Under-price a well-known product. ?

This is the classic “loss leader”strategy. The general idea is that enough customers will buy additional items to offset the losses created by the under-pricing of the lead item. Would you make a trip to the grocery store if they were advertising milk at R4 a litre and eggs at R2 a dozen? You can easily track the effectiveness of the advertising through the number of units sold, or by the increase in customers.

The losses created through theunder-pricing of the item will be relative to the amount of traffic generated.Think of it as pro-rated advertising: the better it works, the more it costs.The downside to this strategy is that customers who switch to you for reasons of price alone will switch from you just as quickly, and for the same reason. Don’t confuse the loss-leader strategy with couponing. Generally, coupons appeal only to the lowest quality of customer. If you’re going to offer a bargain, do it openly. Your best customers – the relational ones – will be offended by the idea that some customers pay a higher price than others.

Strategy#2: Feature an item with a powerful story.

The quantity of customers generated through this strategy will be less than when using the loss-leader strategy, but they’ll be a better quality of customer. The keys to this strategy are:

  • Find an item with a powerful story.
  • Then find a writer capable of telling that story well.

Again, the effectiveness of the ad can easily be tracked through sales of the item or a general increase in customer count. Both strategies must be limited-time offers- “while stocks last” is always a bad idea. You must name a specific calendar date when the offer will expire and then be sure you have enough of the promotional item in stock to satisfy every inquiry. The limit of “one per customer” is usually acceptable as long as it’s plainly disclosed in the ad.

Strategy#3: Plant a word-flag in the ad.
A word-flag is an unexpected, memorable name, word or phrase that customers will voluntarily mention in their efforts to be friendly or to”connect” with you. For example, in the case of Joshua Doore:”You’ve got an uncle in the furniture business”.

The downside of the word-flag strategy is that is produces less immediate traffic than the first two strategies, but usually of a higher quality. The customers responding to word-flag ads will becoming to you because they’ve decided they like you. Note: it’s not a word-flag to say, “Mention this ad and receive a 20% discount”. Those ads will only make you seem unfocused and desperate.

Is it possible to combine two or three strategies in a single ad? Yes – if you have a brilliant copywriter.

Roy Williams teaches creative thinking, strategic planning and human persuasion courses attended by executives from many of the world's largest advertising agencies, professors from leading universities, broadcasters, journalists and small-business CEOs from around the world.

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Consumers Don’t Have An Attention Problem. It’s Just That Your Advertising Isn’t Very Good

With so much media available to consume, quality matters more than ever for ads.

Brendan Gahan




If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?

People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?

Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.

Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.

Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan

But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.

The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.

Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.

Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.

People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.

Related: 9 Strategies For Memorable Advertising When Your Audience Is Chronically Distracted

But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.

From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.

Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.

This article was originally posted here on

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6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From

Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.

Jayson Demers



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New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.

And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.

But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:

  1. Airborne
  2. Splenda
  3. New Balance
  4. Rice Krispies
  5. Volkswagen
  6. Red Bull
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Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell

If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.

Scott Brown



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Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.

Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.

For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.

Related: How do I know that my product is market-ready?

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