“Most Internet advertising campaigns are based on hunches and guesswork, not on the endless amounts of research that show what really brings great results in online advertising,” says Joe Plummer of The Advertising Research Foundation and co-author, with Steve Rappaport, Taddy Hall and Robert Barocci, of “The Online Advertising Playbook: Proven Strategies and Tested Tactics from the Advertising Research Foundation.”
What do we really know about using the Internet to advertise effectively? More to the point, what should we know?
1. Target the right consumers. Online, you can locate precise groups of consumers, whether current customers or attractive prospects. You do it by targeting, and the practice will help you deliver messages that really matter to your customers. “There are several newer online targeting approaches from the old school, which is demographic and geographic, to the new school, which is purchase-based,” says Plummer. “You’ll need to get as much information about your customers as possible to determine which method is going to work for you. One thing to look out for is that you don’t overdefine your market. If you do, you could end up advertising to your most responsive customers, but they may represent only a small slice of your customer base. Keep your focus on the targeting approaches that help you create the most innovative, cost-effective, and successful advertisements.”
2. Be aware of your reach and frequency. Learn the magic numbers. Advertising effectiveness is all about reaching the right people the right number of times with the right combination of media. So how many times can you present an ad before it loses its effectiveness? According to a common industry rule of thumb, most brand objectives reach diminishing returns somewhere between four and ten exposures to an individual. Success will come for those who strike a balance between reach and frequency. “This is an area that is constantly changing in online advertising,” says Plummer. “More and more traditional reach and frequency measures are being supplemented with newer engagement and brand interaction metrics. Successful online marketers will be those who embrace online advertising with concepts and metrics that emerge organically from online advertising, and reduce their dependence on ill-fitting reach and frequency measures from an earlier age.”