As a database marketer and a digital/data maven, I am thrilled with the minute level of detail in demographic, psychographic, behavioral, financial, et al data that we can gather and utilize in almost real time; thanks to advances in technology.
However, I am very likely to disagree with a statement made in an AdAge article by a product manager at stumbleupon.com . The statement went something like, “… direct response marketing on the internet accomplishes this (user intent) better than yellow page ads and classifieds ever could."
From an agency (seller) perspective, one might agree. But, from the “buyer” perspective it is simply not true. As a “buyer” in print, the customer had the choice to pick ad positioning, page, surrounding content, etc. As an example, the furniture customer (ad buyer) could ensure that his/her ad was not on the same page as their competitor. This control is now NOT in the hands of the buyer, but the seller and the seller’s downstream in an online environment.
Because of this, I don’t think that you can make the argument that online banner ads or any other ad is not as interesting or engaging to a customer online as it would be in print or any other medium. The problem could be that the ad is not as engaging online because when the user searches for furniture online, the furniture store has little control on where the furniture seller’s ad will be placed. This is HUGE to the effect that ad will have and to the user intent and enjoyment of the ad.
For anyone reading this that is responsible for online marketing in a company where there is little understanding of “it”, you can relate. How many times do you find yourself justifying your budget for little results at the beginning of an ad? If you are in an environment where they don’t get online advertising, they don’t understand that you have little control over where your ad will be placed…..BUT…..YOU CAN BETTER YOUR ODDS if they will hang in there long enough and give you the budget to apply some good SEO tactics and make adjustments based upon your ad’s performance metrics. (Yes. For those of you questioning my thought process -- ;) --- there are metrics in poor performing ads that can help you in the future!)
To sum this up, I guess I am refuting that you can compare online and offline marketing at all. (This goes back to my blog on the lack of an understanding of “integrated” marketing” but I'll move on....) One reason you cannot is obvious: You get different results with different campaigns and although there are “benchmarks” on expected results, you don’t know what your results will be which is why A/B testing is STILL A GOOD IDEA! (Whew! I got a lot off my chest there, huh?! LOL!) The other less obvious and perhaps more cloaked reason is that the buyer does not have the control in the online environment that he/she does have in an offline environment.
And this brings me full circle back to Integrated Marketing, Affiliate vs. PPC, Testing and more…. we will discuss each on another day!