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Don’t Be Fooled: Stop Hemorrhaging Money On This Marketing Activity

Find how businesses across the world are wasting huge amounts of money on display advertising.. 

When I began my career digital I worked with a number of small businesses that didn’t have large budgets so it was extremely important to ensure that marketing activity was delivering a return.

In some respects working with smaller businesses on tight budgets is far more difficult than working for companies.  You tend to receive a lot more scrutiny and because it’s often the business owner who is spending their own money, every last penny had to be accounted for and you had to constantly provide proof on return on investment.

Working with smaller businesses so early on in my career made sure I got in the habit of tracking on- and offline marketing activity as closely as possible and over the years this is something that has become ingrained in me.

Most of the people I know who work in digital marketing share the same philosophy when it comes to measuring the success of digital marketing campaigns but there are still far too many people out there who are responsible for spending online that total disregard the need to measure the success and it could be costing businesses massive sums of money each year.

There are others who try to measure success but unfortunately do not understand digital marketing enough to make the correct decisions based on the data and often repeat the same mistake over and over again.  I believe this is why I’ve seen the following issue has arisen so frequently over the past few years.

Display Ads Don’t Work
(a lot of the time)

Before anyone jumps down my throat and tells me that there are some forms of display advertising that do work.  I agree.

For example, remarketing is absolutely fantastic for increasing the likelihood that someone will buy from your business after they have visited your website.  Remarketing works because you can easily target people who have visited your website previously and shown buying intent.

What I’m actually referring to are the blanket approach campaigns that, despite what the people selling it to you will tell you, are for the most part extremely untargeted and don’t target people who are potentially in-market.

There is the argument that display ads are a great way to increase brand awareness and are not necessarily about direct response. In my opinion there are far better ways to increase brand awareness and forcing people to view unwanted ads probably isn’t one of them.  Seth Godin said that marketers need to move away from the type of marketing that ‘assaults’ people with messaging over and over again. I tend to agree.

There is also the ever-increasing problem with banner blindness. People see so many of these ads each day and have learned to ignore them.

Some may argue that if display ads don’t work why do they send traffic to your website? Well, if you dig into the data a bit deeper and see how people act when they are on your website you’ll probably find that you will have a ridiculously high bounce rate and no/very little conversions.

Research has shown that 60% of all mobile banner ads are clicked by accident so just imagine that amount of money that must be wasted on that alone.

Another argument I have heard frequently in the defence of display advertising relates to the massive amount of impressions the adverts receive.  Impression reports are just vanity figures.  If you get a massive volume of impressions but there has been no positive impact on the business, the figures are absolutely meaningless.   Impressions don’t pay the bills, wages or add to the bottom line.

Conclusion

Over the years I’ve seen many businesses waste money on display advertising.

There are of course exceptions and display marketing can help a business achieve its objectives but more often than not display it’s a poor choice especially when it comes to direct response campaigns.

If your business is running any type of display activity and it’s costing you money then make sure that you get advice from someone with the right kind of experience to help you to determine whether or not you’re generating a return on advertising spend.

Gordon Campbell

Gordon is an SEO, PPC and Social Media Consultant based in Glasgow, Scotland.

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