I've seen a number of folk who whine about an ad for their book not earning back the cost of the ad. Is it fair to whine?
I've seen a number of other folk step in to say, "Suck it up. Ads only build awareness, not sales. People saw your ad so it was a success."
We've all heard the adage: It takes being exposed to a message 5/6/7 times before someone makes a purchase. These are wise words for garnering patience from executives but are they true? Or are they a fallback for the marketer/promoter/advertiser whose campaign is failing?
"That was just the first exposure! We need to do this 4/5/6 more times before you, Ms. CEO, can expect a return on your investment. Click-through/mail-back/purchase-contemplation success generally doesn't exceed 5% anyway. My team and I of highly paid professionals will get right on it. Should only take another 6 paydays before we're done and you start seeing some effect."
This is, of course, old-school, pre-technology thinking. This is thinking from an era that required effort on the consumer's part. This is thinking that might still be true for marketing and promoting efforts where raising awareness is the reason for the campaign. This is thinking for high-end purchases.
But advertising in the digital age? Especially advertising for books? Banner ads are NOT all about exposure. Banner ads, especially 1-day ads, are about driving instant behavior -- impulse buys. Can you be assured a consumer will see an ad of yours more than once, much less any marketing or promotional efforts? No. You need an instant response, instant click-through. You're not going to turn every click-through into a sale, but you CAN base the effectiveness (or failure) of an ad campaign on an uptick in sales.
Sure, an ad adds to your overall marketing campaign where you are looking for multiple exposures. You can treat it as one incident of eyes-on where marketing is concerned. But if your ad's main purpose is to capture impulse buys -- just like that candy bar from the bins at the checkout line gets tossed onto the checkout counter or that magazine with the sizzling headline you didn't know you even wanted ends up in your purchases -- then you can't ignore sales or lack of them.
Collateral awareness is great, but it's not the purpose of advertising; it's marketing -- or promotion, if it's free. The best thing you can understand is that online buying behavior is not the same as a mail campaign or a billboard or even TV placement, and that the expected results are, and should be, different for each venue.
A banner ad can fail miserably as part of an advertising campaign yet still be a positive result within the overall marketing campaign. For that to be true, though, you have to have a clear marketing plan to begin with. If you don't, and if an ad doesn't pay for itself with purchases made during and shortly after its run, then you've wasted money. You can only absorb those costs within a greater plan.
It's not unprofessional to point out when an ad doesn't bring in the revenue someone expected it to. That's a needed data point for the next person to decide whether that ad fits into a short-term advertising campaign or a longer-term marketing plan. I want to hear people whine.
So, if you're at this point, do you distinguish between advertising and marketing? How?