When advertisers come in to purchase any type of advertising they are excited and motivated, as they should be -- and it is these feelings that can make them delusional about a realistic ROI. It is our job as publishers, networks, and affiliates to explain rationally what the ROI will actually (should) be. If we are not upfront and honest about these things, we will be setting ourselves up for failure, because we are allowing advertisers to retain their delusional thoughts.
Sometimes being honest will have a negative effect. The advertiser, with visions of grandeur, will be taken aback by the news that your firm will not be able to reach the ROI. They will say that another firm has promised that they can produce this ridiculous ROI. We need to accept that if we cannot produce the ROI, we should let this client go. Staying honest and sticking to your guns is how you remain professional. Then, when the advertiser goes to Firm X and gets nothing from their investment, that advertiser will remember your professionalism and return to you.
It is your responsibility to explain that advertising metrics are based on mathmatical equations and statistics. When you are selling on-line banner display on a CPM, the only guarantee you can give is the amount of impressions you can deliver. You can ESTIMATE what the CTR will be based on past ads and their similarities, but then you cannot tell the advertiser how many people will actually become buyers. You can again give an ESTIMATE based on past ad performance (if that has been shared with you), and this is again where honesty comes in. You need to inform your new advertiser that these are in fact ESTIMATES. If your conversation with the advertiser begins and ends with, "your last 'guy' bought ten million impressions and made $20 million," those numbers are what the advertiser will expect, and you will lose that advertiser when those numbers are not met.
The point of this article is, when it comes to setting the expectations of ROI for an advertiser, honesty is the only policy. Let them know that if they make back the amount they have put in, the campaign is a success.
We all want the same thing: long-standing relationships, and to generate a great deal of money. I guarantee, if you are honest with advertisers, even if a campaign is not effective, they will come back and buy again.