I run across them all the time. The people who believe that online advertising does not work. Or that it works on some people, but not on them.
If you think advertising doesn’t work on you, prepare for a shock.
Your home tells a different story. Forget online advertising — advertising itself has molded the life of everyone — even smart people like you. Advertising, and the products it sells, has worked its influence into your most private life. In your bathroom you have cabinets and drawers chockablock with products that advertising has made successful. Deodorant. Makeup. Shampoo. Toothpaste.
None of these items were very much in use back in 1850. Back in 1850 we smelled more. Our breath was bad. Our scalps were flaky. And no one thought twice about it.
In his book, Twenty Ads That Shook the World, James Twitchell writes that the advertising for Listerine mouthwash didn’t so much sell mouthwash as create awareness of, and embarrassment around, bad breath. And having created the need, it then filled it with the antiseptic mouthwash.
Advertising is better than it used to be
A famous retailer once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” That was in the bad old days of advertising, days when your ad reached thousands of people who were never going to buy your product or service.
It’s different today. With online advertising, your media money can be spent far more efficiently by appearing only to people actively searching for something you sell. Google AdWords expert David Booth says online advertising is “targeted, extremely measurable, and it’s active.”
Online advertising takes many forms; it’s so popular now you see it without even noticing it:
- You see online ads in a text ad on search results;
- Commercials before a YouTube video starts;
- Banner ads in a blog; and
- Ads slipped into a news story are another example of online advertising.
AdWords are key words
Search engines keep your advertising relevant when you do the keyword research for online advertising.
If you were searching for “online advertising”, congratulations — you’ve found this post. This article has been optimized for those primary keywords.
When people search for something, search engines count the searches. And, if you ask, the search engine will tell you how many times people search for a term.
You want to write about what people are searching for because it keeps you relevant. This article you’re reading is a case in point. We create all kinds of advertising here. But if we write this article to rank highly for the keyword “advertising” we are talking to a lot fewer people than if we write to rank highly for “online advertising”.
Actually, your thinking that advertising doesn’t work is probably advertising’s greatest achievement.
Keyword research also shows you how a term is used. Here’s another example. We’re graphic designers here at Pitchgreen. One of the benefits of using good graphic design in your business is that you look professional. But if we use online tools to see how people use the term “look professional” on social media, we learn that they’re talking about how to dress for job interviews. Seeing that we’re not a clothing store or an image consultancy, we stay away from the term.
But the thing is, people who are searching online for something have gotten the idea for it somewhere. And that may have been through TV ads, in a magazine review, a product placement in a movie, or a blog post. The main idea is that if you’re not doing advertising, if you’re not using keywords, if you don’t have a website, you need to start.
Online advertising is a game you need to play
When you don’t believe advertising works, you are reluctant to use it. And your reluctance poses a real danger to you and your organization. The hazard here is that you believe advertising not only doesn’t work on you, but that you believe it doesn’t work on anybody. So why bother informing, reminding, and persuading the public about your organization and its offerings?
And all the while, the public is becoming less aware of your products and services not because your organization is playing the communications game badly, but because it is not playing the communications game at all. And you’re sweating from your deodorized armpits and questioning through your mouthwashed mouth about where you’re going to find more money, more members, and more volume.
Actually, your thinking that advertising doesn’t work is probably advertising’s greatest achievement. Advertising longs to be just under your radar: if it’s too noticeable, all kinds of critical faculties come rushing in to bring it down. And stop it from ever getting to you, or your bathroom.