“You know who needs a haircut? People searching for a haircut”. That’s why Google ads work, the advert claims. In fact, this advert wasn’t just reserved for their online Adsense banners.
Last week, Google took out this very ad in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper which is published in Toronto and six other cities; and the advert was also published in a competing newspaper, the National Post. The irony being, the advert appears in print media, arguably a direct competitor to Google’s online search advertising. And many people did find it ironic.
Here’s a copy of the ad:
Google is right, of course. The primary goal of people reading newspapers is to read the news, perhaps to read some interesting articles but not to buy products. The chances of the right publication being read by a viewer with a need for something your company provides is small. And because viewers have become more and more oblivious to adverts (Google ‘banner blindness’ or ‘ad blindness’), the chances are less still. The bigger irony is perhaps that the chances of anyone who wanted to advertise their business on Adwords reading that newspaper and spotting that ad was also quite small. But that’s the point, it’s there to demonstrate that print advertising doesn’t work (ignoring the publicity that the stunt itself has generated).
Contrast this with search advertising. The user is at the point of buying. They know exactly what they want. The only thing potentially stopping them buying from you is if they can’t find you. So this can be tackled in one of two ways: 1) you pay for Google’s Adwords advertising or 2) you optimise your site (or pay someone else to) so that it appears high in the search engine results for terms people might look for if they wanted to buy from you. Simple.
I love the irony of Google’s advert. But it did make me wonder whether people reading newspapers are the same group as people using internet search engines to buy products. For example, in 2011, the largest proportion of internet users was in the 16 to 24 age group, at 98.8% (New Media Trend Watch). I found it more difficult to find the average age of a newspaper reader, but some studies suggest it is around 55. If your target demographic doesn’t typically use the Internet to buy products (but does read newspapers), you might have better success with good old fashioned print media, even though it isn’t as targeted as online search advertising.
Every advertiser should look at four things when planning their advertising campaign:
- Message: Ensure the message is clear, to the point and tells the recipient exactly what you’re offering, how much for and where they can get it. Ensure it is appealing to your target market (which may not be you, so check with your target market!) With all advertising campaigns, don’t make your potential buyers jump through hoops. Make it easy for them to contact you and to purchase from you.
- Market: Identify exactly who you want to target. Look for ways to advertise that reach that niche group as closely as possible. You’ll need to look at their lifestyle and habits to find ways to ‘get to them’.
- Media: Make sure you use a means to get your message across that will reach your target audience. The above example is a good one – if your target market was in the 50 – 60 year old group, you may find newspaper advertising more effective than online advertising. It may be worth a small trial of both methods to see what results you get.
- Moment: The most effective campaigns will hit people at the time they want to buy. For online shoppers, this is when they’re actively looking for sites to supply their need.