Effectiveness of Ads

June 24th, 2012 by Potato

I’ve always been a little dubious about the effectiveness of advertising: even as a kid without leaving the house, I’d be exposed to hundreds of ads a day just by watching TV. Sure, advertising is needed in some cases, particularly for new products (how else would I have become hooked on Special K cracker chips, or know what’s coming soon to a theatre near me?). But the amount of spending on advertising is something I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around: so very much is ad-supported, especially on the internet, yet how effective can it really be in the end?

It seemed to be one of those perverse arms races where no one really believes advertising is effective, but that they can’t stop advertising as long as their competitors are flooding the airwaves, billboards, and internet banners. So many people had such a vested interest in keeping the advertising dollars flowing that no one stopped to think about it.

I had a chance to try out some internet advertising recently: Google Ads gave me a free credit to give them a whirl. So I picked out some key words, spruced up the landing page for my book, and let the ad campaign rip.

Maybe the problem is I’m too much an educator, and not enough a salesman, so even having the ads drive people to my page wasn’t enough to sell them on the book. A big case of TL;DR. Or maybe all the hits were from bots trying to scam Google and the advertisers of their money so the probloggers can make some “passive” income.

What I know is this: it took only a few days to blow through $100 in free advertising, and I made one $5 sale (and that’s the gross!). That’s not a good return on investment: not even close enough to start down the path of “maybe if I optimized my key words or reconfigured the layout of the landing page or…” That’s just awful.

One Response to “Effectiveness of Ads”

  1. Netbug Says:

    This is a HUGE topic. A lot of advertising depends upon your reader-base; there are (obviously) certain demographics more susceptible to ads than others.

    The other thing is what I call the “not now” factor. The best example I could give is when I’m driving down the highway and I see a billboard that interests me, I’m not going to pull my cell out and call right away; I file it away in my brain and refer to it later. So there’s no direct relation to that highway sign and my interest in that particular service or product.

    I find this is how I view advertising on the internet as well. There is a lot that catches my eye, but I don’t immediately click on it. This has got to be a huge frustration for tracking the effectiveness of ads.

    I’m also much more likely to buy/use/see something based upon a review or preview than I am on a straight-up ad. Does this word-of-mouth count as advertising? It’s tough to say. Take Facebook’s recent foray into “sponsored likes” where if a friend “liked” a product, that would be presented on your friends pages as a sponsored ad stating who originally liked it. I actually didn’t have a problem with this other than the lack of control. I trust my friends (mostly) more than I trust some faceless ad firm.

    But anyways… those are my rambling thoughts.