Introduction to Online Advertising

Our next lesson covers the main items for online advertising. Advertising is probably the most important promotion tool for big brick-and-mortar companies. However, with a SEM businesses, advertising is only a supporting factor. The problem is that the majority of SEM businesses lack the scale to be able to effectively contact large numbers of prospects and clients. Furthermore, there aren’t many places on the Web where prospective clients come in flocks. Therefore, advertising is largely PPC-oriented.

Actually, online advertising is advertising on the Internet. This particular form of advertising is a source of revenue for an increasing number of websites and companies.

A significant number of firms, from small businesses to multinational corporations, incorporate online advertising into their marketing strategy. Online advertisements typically involve at least two separate firms: the advertiser or agency which purchases or sponsors the advertisement and the publisher or network which distributes the ad for display. Because of the close relationship between technical innovation and online advertising, many firms specialize in both. For example, most search engines couple their search service with an advertising program, exploiting the benefits of keyword-based search technology by including ads in search results.

Let’s look closer on the most popular online advertising form as traditional banner. PPC advertising form will be explained in details in 8 lessons of our next Step.

Traditional Banner

A Web banner or banner ad is a widely used form of advertising on the Internet. This kind of online advertising entails embedding an advertisement into a Web page. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking them to the advertiser’s website.

Generally the advertisement is constructed from an image (GIF, JPEG, PNG), JavaScript program or multimedia object employing technologies such as Java, Shockwave or Flash, and often employing animation or sound to maximize presence. Images are usually in a high-aspect ratio shape. Banners are usually placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

The Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression“. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”. Many banner ads work on a click-through payback system.

At the base of a click-through system are mathematical calculations of the number of users (users clicking on an ad) divided by impression number. We remember that the term impression means the number of times the ad was delivered. For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%.

It should be noted that banner ad click-through rates have fallen over time, often measuring significantly less than 1% and choice of an appropriate advertising site with high affinity is very important crucial factor in this situation. Personalized ads, unusual formats, and more obtrusive ads typically have higher click-through rates than standard banner ads.

When the advertiser scans their log files and detects that a Web user has visited the advertiser’s site from the content site by clicking on the banner ad, the advertiser sends the content provider a small amount of money (usually around five to ten US cents). This payback system is often how the content provider is able to pay for the Internet access to supply the content in the first place.

Nine Common Banner Ad Mistakes to Avoid

Banner advertising expert Rob Frankel advises e-marketers to avoid the following mistakes when creating their banner ads:

  1. Overloaded. Too many colors. Too slow to load. Too hard to read. Nobody wants to grow old waiting for your banner ad to load. Frankel advises designing banner ads that will load and view easily with last year’s technology. “Personally, I design pages for people running no more than Netscape 2.0 on the equivalent of a 486 running at 66 MHz and 256 colors,” says Frankel. “That means your art should still be no deeper than eight bits, unless you’re a true minimalist and can bring it in at no more than four.”
  2. Unattractive. People like good-looking stuff. What works for Cindy Crawford can work for you, too. So if you’re not a digital Da Vinci, find someone who is and pay him or her a few bucks to make your banner look great.
  3. Too many bells and whistles. Just because technology offers you bells and whistles doesn’t mean you have to use every one of them. Chances are that the average Web surfer has been through several sites before he or she gets to your banner. Give the reader a break. Don’t overdo motion, movement, or message changes. And allow some time to digest what you’re displaying.
  4. Illiteracy and illegibility. These are the ads that make you scrunch up your face and twist your head trying to make some sense out of the illegible scrawls that some knucklehead thinks are cool. But prospects don’t care how cool you think it looks. If they can’t read it, you’ve lost any chance of their clicking on it.
  5. Missing link. Your banner looks great but isn’t linked to anything. That’s a mistake that anyone should be able to detect and prevent with a simple check.
  6. Link errors. Your banner looks great. The link works… directly to a 404 message (meaning the requested Web page was not found). Maybe this one isn’t your fault. Maybe your webmaster inadvertently forgot to tell you he or she switched servers. But even if it was the webmaster’s fault, who do you think will catch the blame? Keep checking those banner links every few days.
  7. Weak message. The same things that make good ads make good banners. Unfortunately, the same things that make bad ads make horrible banners. If you don’t know how to write and design a clever, compelling message, hire someone who does. Nothing turns off poten¬≠tial prospects more than a really stupid attempt at being clever, an offense usually committed with the aid of a bad pun. Remember that your ad is a representative of you, containing a smattering of your personality and ability. If it looks dopey to a viewer, guess what they’re going to think about you? It’s better to be clear than clever.
  8. Confusing message. Your banner looks pretty, but nobody understands what the heck you’re talking about. This is the number-one mistake made by do-it-yourselfers.
  9. Boring banners. One common mistake is that your banner doesn’t compel your recipients to respond within a certain time frame. Without a deadline, there is no immediacy to act, which means they scroll away until they forget it.

Web banners function the same way as traditional advertisements are intended to function: notifying consumers of the product or service and presenting reasons why the consumer should choose the product in question, although Web banners differ in that the results for advertisement campaigns may be monitored real-time and may be targeted to the viewer’s interests.

The evidence shows that Web banner ads are restricted by high cost and limited physical banner area. Let’s look at the Marketplace section of SearchEngineWatch.com:

Out of 10 advertisers only 3 are in the SEM services business. These companies – BruceClay, KeywordRanking and MoreVisibility – are the largest players in the industry; they have enough wherewithal to run these ads and enough resources to satisfy a large flow of traffic.

Pay per click advertising

Pay per click or PPC advertising is an arrangement in which webmasters (operators of websites), acting as publishers, display clickable links from advertisers, in exchange for a charge per click. As this industry evolved, a number of advertising networks developed which acted as middlemen between these two groups (publishers and advertisers). Each time a (believed to be) valid Web user clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays the advertising network, who in turn pays the publisher a share of this money. This revenue sharing system is seen as an incentive for click fraud.

Though many companies offer pay per click system as one of their services. Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and MSN AdCenter are top players in this field.

As far as PPC advertising is the first advertising option for any new on-line businesses it became one of the dominant and widely used marketing tools.

What you should remember:

  1. A Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression”. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”.
  2. Banners should be placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

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.

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.

Online Advertising

Whether you are checking your email, shopping on a website or just searching for information, online ads are everywhere! A new marketing landscape, the Internet offers a new and cheaper advertising space, as compared to traditional spaces like print, television, radio and outdoor advertising. It’s a revolution of sorts and small and home business owners are making the most of it.

For a home based start up, online advertising is a potent tool that can maximize visibility, drive traffic to the company’s website, up the sales and build a solid brand in the process. Going to an expensive advertising agency to run your campaign would most definitely burn a hole in your pocket. The good news is you don’t have to do that. Just remember the twin mantras of focus on what you want and a strong dose of imagination; and you’ll be on your way.

Take the guesswork out of online advertising

Online advertising is not a function of elaborate guesswork and a myriad of hits and misses. Like the traditional offline version, online advertising must also follow some basic rules. Know what you want your advertising to do, where to get it and what to do with it once you have it. Here are some guidelines to get you started.

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  1. Define your advertising objective: Shut the door, switch off the lights, take a deep breath and think why you need to advertise. Clearly define the goals you want your advertising program to achieve. Is it generating new leads, increasing the number of hits on your website, making your company visible in the market place or to increase on/off -line sales? Each goal will have a different advertising path. You can only expect your program to maximize returns, if you know for sure what you want your advertising to do.
  2. Decide “where” you want to be seen: It makes a difference to be seen in the right places. Like in offline advertising, the placement of your ad is very crucial to success. Advertising (Co-advertising for higher benefits) on websites that are most relevant to your line of business would be the best place. Also consider top Search Engines, Online Yellow pages, Service Provider directories and large sites or networks. Explore trade –specific websites for a more focused audience.
  3. Tailor the message for your target audience: when you want the caveman to listen, beat your chest! Craft your message to appeal to the target audience. Your message for a visitor on a trade forum’s website would be different from what you say to the guy clicking on your ad on a home business site. The trick here is to align your message to the mindset of your audience. Equally important is that the message should convey the promotional goals your advertising desires to accomplish. So if you are selling ice to an Eskimo shopping in an Internet mall, don’t forget to mention the discount on your season sale!
  4. Be Creative: In a marketplace teeming with new ads you can easily get clobbered on the head with run-of-the-mill ad copy. Your most valuable asset in this crowd is your creativity, which will make your ad stand out. Be creative not only in the copy, but also in the placement of the advertisement. An online contact lens clinic pulls hundreds of people every day to take an eye test with a simple ad. The small 1” X 2” banner says, “ Think You Don’t Need an Eye Test?” in the same format as you see on the reading sheet in an optometrist’s clinic, with alphabets running vertically in a decreasing order. This is a classic example of a simple but creative idea getting the desired results.

    Add more depth to your advertisement by using rich media like HTML, DHTML, Java and layered ads. Use animated messages doubled with pull down menus for better use of space and for expanding possibilities of response.

  5. Choose the advertising medium well: They say, “Well Begun is Half Done”. If you are going to spend a sizeable amount of money on creating and placing ads, they should do more than just wiggle and pop. To maximize response, choose the advertising medium carefully. You have several choices like banner ads, contextual advertising, ezine advertising etc. Research and read on various formats and the factors for each one’s success. Then decide on what format works best for your campaign. Once you have decided on the format, it is equally important to choose the vendor. If you have decided on banner advertising, research and list the websites that would give you the maximum exposure to the right kind of audience. Check out the option of using advertising networks and the pay-per-click options as well. [http://a1portal.com/]

    Once your campaign has been set in motion, take care to monitor response and be ready to change or completely redo your copy and the advertising vehicles you use. Keep a track of the ROI (Return on Investment) for every advertising purchase that you make. This way you can figure out which forms of advertising are working for you and which ones aren’t.

All online advertising is aimed at inducing “action”. Every online ad that you see is built to make you act: ‘Register for a free newsletter’, ‘buy now and save dollars’, ‘get a quote on your requirements’…the list goes on. The thing to remember here is that once the prospect has been pushed into an action, there should be real value for him at the other end of the pop- up. Unless you can fulfill the promise your brand is making, your online ad has been wasted.

A well-planned and well-executed advertising campaign can fuel the growth of your home business tremendously. Use online advertising following some simple guidelines and see how it impacts your sales, visibility and brand building, all at the same time.

Also see: http://www.web-source.net/internet_advertising.htm

New and Cheap Advertising Ideas

When you are in the business world then your major aim is always to surge ahead of your competitors. It is important that your product is of high quality but it is also important to advertise it so that it reaches every household. You can take the example of mobile phone producers. Normally two products have got the same kind of features but the one with higher sales is the one which is well known as compared to the other one. What is being emphasized here is that you need to speak out loud about the product you are offering and that can be done through the proper implementation of  advertising  ideas.  Advertising  is the key to your success in the business.

Generally our conception about the  advertising  is limited to the big banners we see on the roadsides, in the malls and the large scale advertisements in the electronic as well as print media. With the rising popularity of the internet, the pops ups and advertisements on the websites are also now part of the  advertising  industry. For the big business houses these are standard mode of  advertising  but for the smaller businessmen it is a no-no thing because of the higher budgets. There is no need to get disheartened because these are not the only  advertising  ideas or ways to promote your product. Distributing pamphlets, use of salesperson are also the cheap and effective ways of  advertising . One needs to understand that anything that will make sure that the customer gets to know about your product is a way of  advertising .

To name a few of the cheap and better  advertising  ideas you can count on distributing the pamphlets and flyers in the areas that are in your reach. Through these flyers you can also distribute the discount coupons. These coupons will get the people discussing your product and the contemporary wisdom says that the word of mouth is still the best way to go about the  advertising .

In modern times internet has become such a powerful medium that you can achieve unbelievable results with its reach. You can make a website detailing your product or service. Along with this also make use of the various social networking websites like Facebook, orkut etc. by dedicating a page on them to your product. If you can further spend a little more time you can also make a monthly newsletter relating to your product and send a mass email to the people. In the newsletter make sure that you detail all the good things about your product and also offer some good discounts. This is sure to set some of the tongues waging.

Make yourself a regular member of the business sittings in your locality. Discuss about your product with other people. They might give you some nice  advertising  ideas. The more you keep your eyes and ears open the more you are bound to gain. Project yourself as the key player in the niche of your product and make sure that your product as though it is the only viable option available in the market. These  advertising  ideas are sure to make your project a hit in the market.

5 Important Advertising Tips

1)  Advertising  is Key! Truth is…you can’t afford not to advertise. Statistically speaking, research shows…companies that maintain their  advertising  throughout a recession are poised to reap benefits over their competitors, who do not advertise, especially once the market begins to recover. Therefore, slightly increasing your  advertising  in order to get the edge over your competition is a good idea. However, if you’re not in a position to do that, try to maintain your normal spending levels if at all possible. First and foremost…  advertising  is the promotion of a company’s products or services carried out essentially to drive sales of the products or services, but also, to build a brand identity and communicate any changes or new products or services to the customer base. If you want to grow your company’s profitability and improve your bottom line…you must ADVERTISE!

2) Choose your  advertising  method wisely. Here are some options.

a) Print  advertising : newspapers, magazines, brochures, fliers & direct mail

b) Outdoor  advertising : billboards, kiosks, trade shows and events

c) Broadcast  advertising : Television, Radio and Internet

d) Covert  advertising  or in layman’s terms “product placement”: now this is the  advertising  you see in motion pictures-or with sitcoms on TV…this is a unique form of  advertising  that companies do to showcase their product or service.

e) Public Service  advertising : is traditionally reserved for socially relevant messaging, political integrity, poverty, religious or civic events, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organizations.

f) Celebrity  advertising : of course this is when a famous person is asked to be a spokesperson for your product or service. Today there are growing companies that bank on the power and influence of celebrity  advertising . In most cases, the celebrity lends instant credibility and influences the target customer base positive manner thereby increasing the company’s profitability.

3) The difference between having an  advertising  plan and having an  advertising  strategy is critical. It’s like this…if you want to get from point A to point B that’s your plan. Your strategy is how you’re going to do it. For example if my plan is to drive to Savannah then I have to formulate a strategy on how I’m going to get there…either by car, plane or train etc. Once I determine the how, then I must map out my route…that’s my strategy. Your  advertising  plan consists of what your goal is. For instance, let’s say your plan is to increase sales by 30% and promote your special July 4th sale including half off of everything in stock. Well the  advertising  strategy must include the execution of the plan. If you want to inform your prospective customers about your sale…you’ve got to figure out “the how factor”…how are you going to get that message across? What vehicle will you use? Then you must strategize an effective campaign relaying the pertinent information to the target audience utilizing a creative advertisement to effectively communicate your message. You may decide to combine flyers, TV, radio & internet along with a celebrity endorsement. So the  advertising  plan and  advertising  strategy are very different but function in partnership…because one doesn’t work effectively without the other.

4) The one key word to use in  advertising  The best word in  advertising  is…”FREE” anything free is going to instantly grab attention and make your customer curious to find out what is being offered for free! However, if you’re limited on what you can offer for free…there are other  advertising  techniques you can use…i.e., special offers are nothing more than good old fashioned “bribery” because you hook the customer with the BUY ONE GET ONE OFFER or Buy TWO GET ONE HALF OFF! This technique is very effective because you have given the customer an incentive to spend more!

5) The most important element in effective  advertising  The industry terminology is called “THE CALL-TO-ACTION.” But I like to call it, the WOW Factor or the “Special Sauce.” In today’s society we are spoiled. Most of us want everything now, at our convenience and deeply discounted. Consumers today don’t want to spend too much time or energy looking for a great deal. Most importantly we look for a quality product or service at a great price. Thus, the key for any company or business…is to offer their target audience something unique that’s going to “knock their socks off!” However, you must offer something that will influence the target customer to take action right away! The WOW Factor equals activation! To make sure you get that activation; you must give it the KISS test; KEEP-IT-SWEET & SIMPLE!

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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.

The Forgotten Advertising Medium

Too often those of us that own an online business forget that there’s another  advertising  medium that business owners have been using for years, with excellent results.

That medium is Newspaper  Advertising . Any online business owner that is not using the option of  advertising  in newspapers is losing potentially thousands of dollars per year.

Although print newspapers have lost some of their readership to online news sources there are still millions of homes in America that still buy newspapers, either by newsstands or home delivery.

Reading the newspaper is a habit for many families because there is something for everybody–sports, comics, crosswords, the food section, classifieds, etc. You can reach certain types of people by placing your ad in different sections of the paper that would appeal to your target market. People expect  advertising  in the newspaper. In fact, many people buy the paper just to read the ads from the supermarket, movies or department stores.

As you look through your newspaper, you’ll notice some businesses that advertise regularly. Observe who they are and how they advertise their products and services. More than likely, their  advertising  investment is working if they continue to place ads.

There are many advantages to  advertising  in the newspaper. From the advertiser’s point-of-view, newspaper  advertising  can be convenient because production changes can be made quickly, if necessary, and you can often insert a new advertisement on short notice. Another advantage is the large variety of ad sizes newspaper  advertising  offers. Even though you may not have a lot of money in your budget, you can still place a series of small ads, without making a sacrifice.

Before placing an ad in your town’s daily newspaper you may want to place a few test ads in the local papers that publish less often and are not as expensive, like the Penny Pincher or American Classifieds (formerly Thrifty Nickel). If you get a good response to your ad in the smaller publications, chances are they will pull well in the larger more well-known papers. If your response is not what you were hoping for try rewriting the ad and placing it again. Since the rate is less expensive for the smaller local publications you should be able to do this as often as needed until you get the response you were expecting.

Some things to know about newspaper  advertising :

1. Newspaper circulation drops on Saturdays and increases on Sundays, which is also the day newspapers are read most thoroughly.

2. Position is important, so specify in what section you want your ad to appear. Sometimes there’s a surcharge for exact position… but don’t be afraid to pay for it if you need it.

3. Request an outside position for ads that have coupons. That makes them easier to cut out.

4. If a newspaper is delivered twice daily (morning/evening), it often offers “combination” rates or discounts for  advertising  in both papers. You usually can reach more readers, so this kind of  advertising  may be something to consider.

Other important tips to remember are:

* Before you advertise, have in mind a definite plan for what it is you want to sell.

* Create short, descriptive copy for your ad. Include prices if applicable. Consider using a copywriter or ask your newspaper for free copy assistance.

* Face your products toward the inside of the ad. If the product you want to use faces right, change your copy layout to the left.

* Be sure to include your company name and logo, address, telephone number and website url in the ad.

* Neat, uncluttered and orderly ads encourage readership. Don’t try to crowd everything you can in the layout. If the newspaper helps you with the layout, be sure to request a proof of the final version so you can approve it or make changes before it is printed.

* Always make sure you are satisfied with what your  advertising  says and how it looks before it goes to print.

8 Ways Companies Waste Advertising Dollars

I understand, running a business is tough. Tons to do. Even more to think about. But, have you thought about how you are wasting those precious few  advertising  dollars? We see money wasted everyday in  advertising , here are some of the most common ways:

1) Inconsistency – Rollercoaster  advertising  is not as fun as it sounds. Rollercoaster  advertising  is when companies don’t stay in front of their customers. Business slows down so the company responds by doing some  advertising . They soon get busy and the attention gets directed to serving the recent influx of business. Soon, that new business is starting to wane, and its time to ramp up the ad machine again. If you will consistently advertise to your perfect customer your rollercoaster will level out and you can ride that train to the bank.

2) “Me Too”  Advertising  – Do you remember the “Got Milk?” campaign? Of couse you do. Its one of the best campaigns of the 90’s. Do you remember all the knockoff campaigns that it spawned. T-shirts, billboards, magazine ads everywhere had “Got _______?” in that nice narrow font. Do you remember any of the companies that did the knockoffs? I didn’t think so. “Me Too!”  advertising  is jumping on a band wagon of a concept or tactic that works. Unfortunately, the “me too”ers seldom see the same returns. Be original, set the bar and let everyone else say “Me Too!” to your  advertising .

3) Shotgun  Advertising  – This spray and pray method of  advertising  to EVERYONE is costly and not very profitable. It gets expensive trying to flood the marketplace with your message in hopes of hitting the perfect customer. Every time your message lands on the wrong customer you waste money. You may wonder why “the big boys” use so much of the mass market  advertising , its because they can afford to. But in recent years they are learning that targeting specific customers that are ideally compatible with their message is paying off more than hitting everyone with the same ad.

4) Wrong Vehicle – Using mass transit  advertising  to market a kitchen utensil to stay at home moms doesn’t sound like a good Idea, right? It’s not. Stay at home moms are called that for a reason. They stay at home. They don’t use mass transit very often. So why do companies use  advertising  vehicles that won’t reach their perfect customer? Choose the  advertising  vehicle that best fits the needs of that one customer that your product speaks directly to. Its kind of like using a tank to go water skiing, it might pull you but it won’t work that well.

5) Wrong Customer – Have you tried to sell tractors to a stock broker? It ain’t easy. Choosing the right customer is half of the battle in  advertising . Many companies say our target market is the whole world. That is a bit of a contradiction. Take an inventory of what needs your product or service fills. Look at what customers have the demographic and psychographic qualities that fit your product offer. Then work to craft a message that speaks directly to them and their needs. They are the right customer, speak to them.

6) Too Big – Every year a few companies spend millions on a single 30 second spot during the super bowl. If you remember the DotCom boom the Super Bowl broadcast was filled with quirky sometimes weird ads that “promoted” a website. A few years later, 90% of those companies were no where to be found. Would that money been better used in a consistent, targeted, custom message to the right customer? Guaranteed. Would they still be in business today? No way to know. My advice, don’t spend  advertising  dollars on placement that is beyond your reach. Especially if your haven’t tested the message. Think Big, Work Small.

7) Too Small – Money is tight. I get it. But, try to push yourself to the next level when it comes to your ad budget. I know it sounds weird after the last point. But I said the “next” level not the next stratosphere. If you wish to reach your perfect customer, they have to know you exist. You must let them know what you offer and how it meets their needs. Test your message as cheaply as you can. When you find a message that works, go big. Take a few risks, step out of your comfort zone. To get something different, you must do something different.

8) Poor Brand – What is your brand? Your brand is your look, your message, your value, your overall marketing message. Do you have a strong brand? Can you convey your message in 2 sentences? Do you speak to your Perfect Customer with every market touch point? Do the answers to these questions evade you? That probably means your brand isn’t as strong as it should be. Branding is probably the most important part of  advertising . Invest in your brand, it pays dividends.

If you can avoid these few mistakes, your  advertising  can be the life-blood of your business. If you fear making an  advertising  mistake, send us an email at [email protected] we be glad to help you through it.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Combs

Lead Cre8ive, Cre8iveDept.com