Accidental Advertising

Posted by Tony Plies

Media companies blast your ad out to a generic audience of unknown composition (at least as it relates to your best customer profile) in the hopes that somebody (anybody) interested in what you sell happens to run into your ad. That’s the primary reason they promote audience size. It’s a numbers game.

They expect you to run that ad multiple times (frequency) to improve the chances that an accident will happen. It also improves the medias bottom-line because each time you run that ad, they make more money as they convince you to keep spending.

It’s no different than gambling. Hoping someone with money will see or hear your ad is no different than hoping to “roll a seven” in Roulette. The tragedy is that in Roulette you can place an even money bet and your chances of winning double. No such bet in advertising.

That’s why I call it accidental advertising. The results you get are completely happenstance. It’s a total accident if anything happens at all. You’re paying for results based on the process of elimination. That process is basic math.

Here’s how the math breaks out: If your ad went out to an audience of 100,000 people, we already know only 10,000 might actually see it (10%). Of that 10%, 2% (200) will be in market for what you sell. Let’s say your market share is 15%. You, specifically, have an opportunity to make 30 sales (200 X 0.15 = 30).

Depending on what you sell, that might be a good number, and it might not. Regardless, it’s critical to understand because you must consider if those 30 sales will cover the cost of the advertising. Even if you say “yes”, you’ve broken even. Breaking even doesn’t pay the bills. You need to make a profit.

If you didn’t break even, you’ve now lost money. Losing money isn’t why you advertise.

You see, most traditional media companies have a somewhat stable volume of audience at any given time. That’s the universe they play in. That may or may not be a universe that works for you.

The more your ad is presented to that audience across numerous dayparts, the more people are likely to see or hear it. The more that see it, the better the chances it will appear just when someone is looking for what you sell (this doesn’t even factor into your market share – the person of interest can be a potential client for all of your competitors, as well).

The problem with this model is the more people that see it, the more you’re spending to make that happen. Then, you get to the point of diminishing return. That means the results don’t outweigh the cost.

These media platforms can’t guarantee you anything. The only guarantee you get is that it’ll cost you money to try.

They can’t tell you if your message was seen or heard, they can’t tell you anything about their own audience beyond some speculative, low sample rate surveys that are months (or years) old.

There are better ways. Ways that don’t cost you anymore than you’re spending right now. Educate yourself in those ways. It’s costing you big-time if you don’t. If you need help, let us know with a comment.


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