Advertising Waste- How To Make it More Efficient

Advertising Waste Spells Failure

By Tom Dougherty

Advertising waste and John Wanamaker go hand in hand. The great department store innovator, once said that he was sure that 50% of his advertising dollars were wasted – but he could not figure out which 50%. Today’s advertisers are facing the same dilemmas because the traditional media venues like newspapers, magazines, network TV, and radio are becoming less effective each day. More dollars are needed to make up for the less subscribed readership and drop-off in prime-time viewers.

Media Is in DECLINE and is part of Advertising Waste

Advertising waste is hard to manage today. Social media is the new quagmire.
The waste in advertising today is enormous

Across the globe, readership of daily newspapers is on a deep decline. Even bastions of business, like The Wall Street Journal, are seeing a decrease in readership. Even the old stand-by Yellow Pages is basically an app as the Internet is the search medium of first resort. Let’s face facts. The interruptive media messages that built consumer product brands are becoming less effective.

Reach and Frequency, the traditional ad media formula are being replaced by Reach and Frequency, Frequency, and Frequency. To be effective you had better be prepared to say it all a lot more often. A sea change is happening and brands that want to win need to catch the wave and change.

Your ad agency won’t tell you this because they make their revenue on an old and outdated model. Placing media is a service and should be priced as such. It should not be a profit center. They see everything in terms of their own outdated business model and, your model, to paraphrase Bob Dylan “is rapidly chang’in.” You need to win, grab market share from your competitors, and find your way through the maze of increasingly inefficient media models. The want to make you part of the advertising waste they thrive on.

If the Internet and social media is your new best friend, is the buying of Adwords on Google paying off for you? If you are like the rest of us, you do it because you feel you have to but its inefficiencies and hierarchical matrix (paying the most gets you better position) means that unless you are in on the first page you might just as well not play at all. The drop off in effectiveness from first page to second page is a chasm that makes the Grand Canyon look like a wrinkle rather than a deep ravine.

Find The Way To Win

So, how do you navigate this advertising waste quagmire and find ways to excite new customers? How do you decide which media venue is right for your brand?

Knowing exactly who you are for helps a great deal. Clarity and focus are the premier allies in becoming a winning brand and that means that your brand strategy needs to make some very hard decisions. It means you need to eliminate waste (something that would make Mr. Wanamaker extremely happy). Cable TV offers some focused choices because the markets are much more segmented (and therefore more efficient). Gone are the days when your commercial on the BIG THREE reached everybody.

advertising wasteBrands that are so generic as to offend no one will go the way of LIFE Magazine. It was fun to read LIFE, but there were always better choices that reflected our individual lifestyles better. The advertising in that magazine dried up because the market evolved towards more efficiency and it always will do exactly that. (Read ways in which you can find important differences for your product or service here)

If the Super Bowl is in your advertising cross hairs — you have too much money unaccounted for in your ad budget. These are all “mass” venues that offer no efficiencies when it comes to your target market. From a branding perspective, such choices reflect a lack of due diligence and speak directly to advertising waste. You must put a stake in the ground and remember that being for a specific customer means not being for others. For example, our own Stealing Share brand is only for aggressive companies that want to win and embrace change as a given. This means that traditional companies that thrive in the status quo and look to defend turf rather than grab it are not for us and we are not for them. Your brand needs to recognize your customer if you expect that customer to recognize you.

Clarity and Focus

Finding out who you are for means seeing your brand beyond just the category you are in (like banking) or the service you provide (like cellular phones) or the result you deliver (like high speed internet connections). Today, these are all generic categories and the market sees such products and services as simple commodities.

advertising wasteThe most effective means of differentiating your brand and therefore making your media choices more efficient and eliminating advertising waste is to segment your brand by customer precepts or beliefs rather than by category or benefit. Why is this so? Because your prospective customer, who already owns a cell phone (for example), is filtering out all of the commercial messages because the need for that service is already sated.

The communities of advertising agencies preach that the only way to get past these filters is to “entertain” and “engage” them. The problem is that their solution is pretty much a crapshoot and they fail more often then they succeed. If the recipe for successful entertainment were known and understood then Hollywood would never have a flop and TV networks would never have to create a new series let alone cancel one.

The Answer to Cutting Advertising Waste

The way to get through the clutter starts with your brand — not with your marketing message. If your spotlessly defined prospect sees the message as about them and not about you — they will pay attention and notice, even when they are not in the market to buy. The same spotlessly defined prospect will self-identify the right medium for that message as well — and reach will then become more important than frequency. If you don’t know your customer as well as you should, we can help make everyone a hero…even your ad agency. And that is how you cut down on advertising waste.

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