Sunday, October 24, 2010

Am I insane? Are print ads a better value than online ads?

When's the last time someone told you print ads were a good investment?  I haven't read it in any books or even magazines or newspapers!  In fact, they all continue to promote the incredible value of online advertising.  And they are right to promote the value of online advertising, it is great.  But print ads are still a very important part of the mix and depending on the product, can be a very good value.

Most marketers love online because they can show "real results" to their bosses.  But are these results real?  "Hey boss, I got 200 clicks and it only cost $200!".  That's pretty good and something I'd be happy to hear.  Of course, I'd like to know more about the clicks and in most cases you can learn some information but you still can't pinpoint who actually clicked.  So unless the person takes action, you've measured the wrong thing. You've measured the click which makes the marketer feel good but results are still unknown.  But, it does feel good and we can "assume" that increased sales came from those clicks.  But, we are assuming.

Do not misunderstand, I am a huge fan of pay per click and online advertising.  But it isn't the panacea it is being made out to be.  Think about this.  Revenue per page view at YAHOO for ads is somewhere between $.90 and $1.31 right now.  That's an expensive view, especially when people have learned to tune out the ads (except for those really cool mortgage ads where the shadows are dancing, I can't ignore those!).  Compare that to the cost of an ad in the local paper or flyer or even a local magazine.  Assume the cost per page is $4,000 and the magazine goes to 10,000 people.  Pretty easy math, the ad cost you .40 per view.

Hogwash you say, because most people don't read the ad in the magazine.  But they do online?  Think about it the next time you view a page online and ask yourself how many of the ads do you really see?  Do you see more in your local paper/magazine/flyer?  Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Online is critical to advertising strategy, especially the search results on Google.  When people are searching, you need to have your ad in the paid results set for RELEVANT searches.  You need to have your site optimized for search and your landing pages ready for your customers.  But sometimes you need to drive traffic to your site and your business the good old fashion way.  Print ads.

Admittedly, I am biased. I recently became the CEO of Maryland Pennysaver which is the largest weekly advertising circular in Maryland reaching over 800,000 homes in 50 markets each week.  MD Pennysaver has loyal repeat advertisers who get great results from their advertising because of the weekly exposure and high readership engagement levels at a very low cost for advertising.

Create time and budget to do both online and print ads and work with a firm who understands both.  Both have good value if you advertise in the right places.  For consumer advertising, a weekly circular delivered via the mail is a great low cost option that has high readership engagement. For business to business advertising, trade magazines are fantastic.

As with all advertising, it requires a good mix of advertising to be successful.  You have people who never read print and others that don't get online.  You have more that use both.  Reach them in each media as often as possible and don't get hung up on the traffic or # of views/clicks and more than you get identifying the # of readers.