Advertising Effectiveness 101

Peter Woodward

I should start by saying that this article is not a comprehensive guide to advertising. This is foundational information meant to move the needle slightly on someone who knows little to nothing about advertising. Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let’s jump in!

Through my journey of starting a creative agency, I’ve been expanding my marketing knowledge and found that the principles are not overly complicated. There is so much noise around how to reach your audience, micro-targeting, and everyone and their dog being a marketing expert. Real experts break advertising down into two categories: brand building and sales activations.

Brand Building

As the name indicates, these are ads that are meant to build your brand awareness. This should be about communicating your story and what sets you apart from your competition with as many eyeballs as possible. The goal is to evoke positive feelings in your audience and help establish or increase affinity to your brand. Brand-building ads are about making people feel things and creating or perhaps reminding them of positive memories. The idea is to create future demand for people who are going to be looking for your product or service. You target these ads very broadly. Mass media is your friend for brand building.

Sales Activations

It’s time to harvest some of that demand. The best time to ask people to buy from you is when you’ve already established a positive place in their heads. Sales activations often include price or value propositions and specifically call people to take action. This is less about how you make people feel and more about creating a rational argument for the sale. These ads are often run for shorter periods and are heavily targeted to people ready to buy and buy now.

How to measure

Sales activations in digital marketing are easy to track, making them so attractive for as long as they have been. It’s easy to see the ROI on an ad when the click can be directly attributed to dollars in a sale. That’s why everyone wants to do them and why there are so many “digital marketing experts” in the world. Aside from digital marketing, it’s easy to look at your sales campaigns and balance sheet and see if sales went up when the campaign ran. But how do you measure someone’s organic interest?

Brand-building efforts can be tracked using several methods, but the most easily accessible is Share of Search. Look at Google Search data to see how people are behaving and thinking. Getting more searches during and after your brand-building campaigns means you’ve impacted your brand awareness. Of course, context is important with this tracking to ensure the sentiment behind the increase in search is positive. This is where social listening and media monitoring come into play. With all these tools combined, you should understand how your brand performs.

Changes in the industry have had people lose focus on these basic guidelines. Although these principles and measurement techniques aren’t new, they’re not always so clearly defined for agencies or marketing departments. Hopefully, this article helped to clarify how we view the field. Our focus at Shortstop is not just to do great work but to do great work that works.

Still have questions? Reach out to us!

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