Buying Advertising Like Luxury Products

When you buy an expensive watch that is priced hundreds of times more than a regular watch, it’s clear that your objective is not to know what time it is. Especially with digital watches, the cheapest digital watch, also on your phone, is more accurate than the best mechanical watch. But we still buy them. That doesn’t diminish their status as luxury products, in fact I think it increases their value as such.

Because people know that you don’t have that watch for timekeeping reasons, it is clear to everyone that it is purely a fashion statement, however you want to express that; quality, brand, story behind it, special edition, etc. It’s like owning a rare work of art that doesn’t have much practical utility but has enormous psychological value.

I have a problem when marketers buy advertising the same way we buy luxury products. When they book ads for the image it generates in the advertising community and to make a statement about the brand just to get them awards or case studies. Many times I hear extremely fluffy claims about how placing an ad in a certain placement is going to create a great effect. It’s usually how they think other marketers will perceive their ads, which is usually something completely different from how people view them. Testing some creatives across different placements can easily uncover many things that can be completely contrary to conventional wisdom.

Advertising has a function and it serves to leave an impression or send a message to the intended audience, eventually ending up in improving the sales of the business. It is not an art, although an artistic touch and creativity are needed to create messages that resonate with people and achieve the business objectives.

Why Creative Ad Executions are Not Necessarily Good Online

They are usually bad actually.

We still suffer from the thinking of offline advertising trying to force the limitations of print and outdoor on the flexibility and unboundedness of the online experience. They still think that the home page is the cover of the magazine, and waste a lot of money on that.

One of the main characteristics of online ads that offline people just don’t seem to understand is that the campaign doesn’t start and end with the ad itself like in the offline world.

In a magazine, on TV, or on a billboard, the ad is just a box or a full page that contains a message. It ends there. There is no such thing as a click. In the dark ages of offline advertising the only thing you tried to do is have a catchy message, something loud, and the main thing you could track was “message recall”. It’s ok if they don’t know what the brand was all about, because the model was so much sexier than the product, the important thing was that they recalled the brand and logo. Good job. Minus $100k. Now what?
Well, the most you can hope for, is that people would call if you have a number, or visit your store, if one is close by. Buying your product of course. Oh, and “branding”.

In the magical online world, we have something called the click. The person who is interested in knowing more about you, can click, and visit your site, your social media profile, view your videos, and spend endless hours researching you and interacting with you. Each person will choose the amount and type of interaction that suits them, and they can come back whenever they need you.

Your message doesn’t need to be loud, intrusive, and shocking to get people’s attention. If you target your message properly, and have something to say that resonates with that audience, enough people will click, and then you can give them a great experience on your site, after they have expressed interest in what you have to offer.

From a messaging perspective, it’s much more effective for them to see a fully branded page, with your domain, and trust-building elements, than it would be to run an intrusive takeover on a site where people are trying to do something else. When it is on your site, you can have an interactive page that does really interesting things and provide valuable information to your users, and you won’t have to be limited by the guidelines and limitations of whichever site you are running a takeover on. You have full control and freedom. Here is where you should be creative.

From a cost perspective, it is way more cost-effective to buy clicks to that creative page of yours, than it is to buy impressions with big limitations on what and how to deliver your message.

A good banner, video ad, or even a text ad are enough to get people to click, and once they have expressed interest in what you have to say, then and only then should you overwhelm them with your magic.

Branding vs. Performance Campaigns

There seems to be a consensus that there are generally two categories or types of campaigns online.
In the branding case you don’t expect much to happen other than making sure as many people know about you or link a certain image to your brand. In the case of performance, you mainly worry about getting people to do something after they have interacted with your ads.

While this might be an ok way to categories these activities, I don’t think it’s useful or meaningful because it misses out on a few points.

When you are running a campaign for branding or raising awareness, the ads you run will generate results; views, clicks, interactions, engagements. These should be measured, and you should take action based on the results. You should be testing different creatives and messages to see what resonates with the audience more, this also should be measured. During the campaign, the engagement rates might go down, up, or remain stable. Again you should react by either changing the approach, or stopping the ads where users have clearly indicated with the lower engagement rates that they are fed up with those messages.

Every branding campaign is a performance campaign.

With so-called performance campaigns, people usually only focus on the results; clicks, conversions, conversion rates, etc. But just because you called it a performance campaign, doesn’t mean there isn’t a by-product of communication happening. More than 90% of people don’t click on your ads, but they still see them. More than 90% of people who click don’t convert, but they still see your site, logo, tone of voice, and general differentiation points. Even the most specific and intellectual ad, the text ad, has your domain name / brand name, and has a claim or two about why people should do business with you; great quality, free delivery, best-in-class service, etc.

Every performance campaign is a branding campaign.

So how do we classify campaign types and where do we draw the line between the different types?
We simply don’t. It’s not important what you call the campaign, as long as you have actionable, clear goals, and you set the expectations regarding what you can get out of them. There are always unintended consequences and side effects to any campaign and these should be measured, taken into consideration, and made use of.

The Product as The Logo

There are few brands that have the courage not to put their logo on their products. This is a great reminder that the brand is the offering, the product experience, and the value you get that make distinctive. They don't need to even put the logo on the face because they are more focused on providing a design and an experience that you will definitely notice.

Let's see if you can figure which brands these products are. Mouseover if you don't know :)


iPod Shuffle


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Brands and Web Analytics

This is my attempt to describe how using web analytics we can get some insights on one brands, one of the most difficult things to measure. This presentation contains information and examples on how to use the numbers to know more about the actual brand vs. the brand you aspire to be. 

Main ideas... 

Definition: the brand is basically the sum total of what people who interacted with you think about you. It is not what you claim to be. Still not sure who created this definition but it is the best one I found so far.

Quantifying the brand: analyzing where people spend most time on your website, analyzing the keywords they use to come to your site shed a lot of light on what kind of brand they think you are, and shows whether or they care about the stuff you are promoting. Even if you have more content about topic X, but people are spending far more time on topic Y, then your site is "about" topic Y. At least in the eyes of consumers, which is what really matters, which is your actual brand.