Why applying on-line evaluation methods to print advertising is a bad idea

After many calls and e-mails from an advertising sales person in your target trade media, you finally gave in. You bought the half page advertising space at a fraction of what the sales person initially quoted; it almost feels like a bargain, doesn't it? Now, you would like to track the return on investment for your company, so you decide to measure the number of visitors and inquiries generated by this advert.

How can companies measure the
 success of print advertising campaigns

All you really want to know is has the advert worked?

One way that many companies try to quantify the efficacy of their print advertising by creating a purpose built landing page on their website. This is supposed to count the number of visitors coming to your website after reading the advert. But does this really work?

Not really, because people will not take the time to type into their browser the address of your landing page: http://www.bluewidgets.com/trademags/visitors... Nobody has the time or patience to type all that in, so instead, they will go to Mr. Google and type in blue widgets manufacturer. Their inquiry will thus appear to come via a search engine and not through advertising.

Conclusion: Trying to get an accurate headcount of the leads generated by magazine adverts using a landing page is practically impossible.

And for the geeky ones amongst us: the mighty QR code. A well placed QR code will take the reader exactly where you want him and give him specific information, and that is the reason for a purpose build landing page, after all.

However, you must consider all these variables before giving your vote to the QR code:

- How many of those reading your adverts have a smartphone? All of them? 50%? Perhaps even less?

- Of that small minority, how many have a QR code reading app on their phone and know how to use it? 10% maybe?

- How many will actually take the time to turn on the app and then navigate to your landing page?

- And when they do, how can you ensure that the landing page will load quickly and display correctly on everybody’s phones?

Unfortunately QR codes will return very few visitors and thus the results you get will be inaccurate, to say the least. Most people will still just go via Google.

Finally, what about using specific telephone numbers in your print advert? Surely that would clearly show inquiries generated by your investment in promoting the company? In reality, these don’t work very well either, simply because people assume that they would get the most recent or direct company number by visiting the website and typing in bluewidgets company telephone. They are probably better than landing pages or QR codes though.

From what we have seen, applying these on-line evaluation methods to track the response of advertising in trade magazines does not work. And we can say this in an unbiased way as neither booking adverts nor building response mechanisms form part of Stone Junction’s core business.

Photo: Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Oana Baetica - Technical PR consultant

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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