Adams & Knight Marketing Blog
POSTED BY: Pat Dugan

Digital advertising: align expectations with realistic results


There’s one thing pretty much every marketing campaign includes these days: digital advertising components, including banner ads, mobile ads, social media ads, promoted and sponsored posts, and most of the time, all of the above.

And for good reason. Adults in the U.S. now spend more time with digital media than with television. Facebook’s closing in on 1.5 billion active users. 500 million Tweets are sent every day. And let’s face it — you don’t need any statistics to look around and see how many people are walking around hypnotized by their smartphones, tablets and laptops.

However, the one thing nobody can agree on when it comes to digital advertising: what kind of results to expect . . . and strive for. Should the banner ads generate click-throughs to the client’s website? Should the Facebook marketplace ad get users to “like” the client’s Facebook page, or get them to call a phone number? Should the Pandora 30-second “radio” ad drive to a special landing page, or just tell listeners to visit a nearby location?

With digital advertising, there are so many options for your call-to-action (CTA), it can lead to “analysis paralysis” . . . and the temptation to go with whatever CTA offers the easiest results to track. However, just because it’s easy to track clicks, likes and follows doesn’t mean that’s how you should judge the success of your digital marketing.

For example, say you want to get the word out about a new brain surgery technique your hospital offers — and a big part of the campaign will be digital advertising. It’s easy and tempting to say that you’re going to judge its success based on the number of people who click on banner ads and social media posts and visit your website to learn more about the procedure. After all, you’re going to be able to easily track those click-through numbers, right?

Well yes, but how accurate will they really be? After all, “buying” brain surgery isn’t the same as buying a case for your iPhone. It’s not like there’s a huge number of people who need brain surgery out there just waiting for your surgical solution — and a link to click on. Chances are, if your digital marketing efforts reach people who need brain surgery, they already have a medical plan in place. So you may not get the number of click-throughs you were hoping to.

But, the campaign could still very well be a huge success if you look at other, better ways to measure results. Like a pre- and post-awareness survey that measures how many more people now know about the new brain surgery technique. Or perception research that shows you how much the impressive new procedure improved the image of your hospital — and how many people would consider it if they ever did need brain surgery, or another advanced procedure.

The simple point is, the things we advertise digitally are very different. The results we expect should be, too. Just because you can measure things like clicks and likes online doesn’t mean you should…or at least, put too much stock in them. Make sure you’re setting the right expectations for your next digital marketing projects, then make sure you’re using the right ways to find out if you’ve achieved them.

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Pat Dugan
Executive Creative Director
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