February 7, 2014

I recently had a discussion with a client about measuring print ad results. I’ve always loved the old adage50% of advertising is wasted, but no one knows what 50%.”  The client is now using ad specific URLs in each print ad, so they can track what ad has the best click-thru rate. Ten years ago, when I first used this technique, I thought this was a great idea. Now, it is going to give you some questionable data.

Why? Because research that my firm has conducted, supported by various national studies, shows that most people who respond to print ads by going online, use a search engine to find the company. In fact, our studies show that you can take the Google Analytics figure for referrals from a specific print URL and multiply it by 3 and you will have a better reflection of your true response from a print ad.

Now let’s talk about the power of an impression. Counting total impressions is important because it will give you your CPM cost (the ad cost per thousand views or Cost Per Impression, the online advertising cost per thousand views). CPM, as I outline in my book, will tell you how “efficient” your media buy is. But today you need to move beyond simply counting impressions. Consumers are in control. They move constantly from one media choice to another, bombarded constantly by ad messages. And yes, they tune out most of it.

If you are going to get real value out of an impression, you need to make one. That means being unexpected, creative and media savvy. Another great topic for your marketing staff meeting.

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