Things I Think But Dare Not Say

Well here we are a week later. The war is full-fledge. Business is uncertain. And advertising hurts.

Every once in a while it seeps out from a place I thought I'd never have to go back to. A place filled with disconcerting regression dancing on the tongues of many. Unable to divulge its new origination or the lips it came from, I sit and ponder. I think about what I'd say if I didn't have to bite my tongue. Whoa, what a mouthful it is. Take my notes and quirky anecdotes as a grain of salt or perhaps a mirror image of a day in your life. Consider the real-life questions/comments as well as this writer's answers/random thoughts:

Q: What's my click through rate (CTR)?

(What I wanted to say: Are you #$%^ing kidding me?! Did you JUST get a job in online advertising?)

CTR is a dreaded word in the industry today. Many of us admit the industry shot itself in the foot with this metric. If you are reading this I truly hope you know how to get the metric. For those who may have just joined the online world, a CTR is the number of impressions purchased divided by the number of clicks on the ad unit. CTRs were in the high percentages as the industry started. Once users became more web-savvy, the numbers dipped down. Advertisers used campy gimmicks to get people to click. Agencies and publishers saw this coming and got smart. We began trying to defer attention away from the CTR onto better metrics such as conversion or time spent, or emails captured. We struggled (and remain) to drum up concise ways of evaluating the success of a campaign. Some sites such as CBS Marketwatch, ditched the metric altogether. Nielsen NetRatings did as well.



Q: How come you aren't presenting us with any "sexy" creative...what's it called, rich media?

(What I wanted to say: Have you seen your product/service? There is nothing sexy about it. All the technology in the world couldn't make it hot.)

Rich media typically refers to anything that streams audio or video. It can also describe larger formats with animation. In order to effectively use rich formats, advertisers must consider many elements in order to be successful:

  • Do the sites accept such formats?
  • Does your target typically interact with such units?
  • Do you have enough money in the budget to produce the units?
  • How will they be tracked?
  • Do you have enough time to launch this type of creative?

    Q: How do I know we have the proper spend by medium?

    (What I really wanted to say: So you don't think you should advertise online, huh?)

    Unfortunately there is no easy answer here. The industry has no standard percentage for online media by category against all other media. We look at a variety of factors in order to determine the most efficient and effective mix for you including:

  • Your overall budget
  • Competitive spend online and offline
  • Business goals
  • Marketing budget
  • Demographics, psychographics and technographics of your target
  • Creative assets
  • Time

    Q: How many leads am I expected to get?

    (What I really wanted to say: There is nothing lead gen about your produce/service, website... so why here and why now?)

    It may be easier to answer a question with several questions here.

  • What are your monthly traffic numbers now?
  • What is the role of your website?
  • Why do you want to advertise online?
  • Is this a branding effort or a direct effort?
  • What is the total lifetime value of your customers?

    Q: Why do I need more creative?

    (What I really wanted to say: Nothing. I was speechless.)

    It's super-important for agencies to clue advertisers in on the type and amount of creative units need to meet their online advertising/marketing needs. It is also imperative that you explain production specs clearly. This is where full-service shops are advantaged and pure-plays are challenged. Creative under one roof makes things go a heck of a lot easier. And when things are easier, they are quicker...and when they are quicker they are less money. Creative and media must come together and determine media spend, tracking fees, agency fees, site-driven creative specs, and planned impressions as each relates to the creative offering. In my experience, there are some shallow pockets out there. If you can't come up with the proper amount of money to fund creative then the media plan should be reassessed.

    Q: Why do we have multiple pieces of creative running on the same "page?"

    (What I really wanted to say: Don't you want to have the most visibility?)

    Us media folk drool over exclusivity. We want to give our clients opportunities where their ads yield the largest share of voice (SOV). We want custom sponsorships wherever we can get 'em. If we can't, we sure as heck want to make sure our client's competitor is rotating on the same page. Yes multiple ads on the same page are counted as multiple impressions in many cases. However, you can work with sites and adv servers to factor this into consideration.

    I could go on and on here. I'm disappointed to be answering the same questions I did in 1994 (when the first online ad was sold). Are you experiencing the same old same old? Someone please tell me I'm not alone. After all, misery loves company.

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