What impact does advertising have?

Hardly a day goes by without some advertising advocate extolling the long term benefits of advertising, so what’s the heart of the issue….

And as we dive further into difficult economic times, this type of comment will be on the increase.  Primarily from those that have a vested interest to either sell you advertisements or media.  But it’s only half the story.

It’s not the long term effects of advertising that should today concern advertisers, but the short term instant response; simply because advertising is designed to generate sales.  Brand appeal comes from a much wider range of marketing activity. 

Take Virgin, for example.  The brand is all about Richard Branson promoting an image of his attractive bohemian lifestyle; a David and Goliath act taking on BA – young, rebellious and challenging. 

Yet when it comes to Virgin Atlantic ads, most times he doesn’t get a mention.  They might be on the risqué side to match the personality of the organisation, but its back to good old features, advantages and benefits.  These ads are designed to sell – the rest of the communication strategy reinforces the brand image.

The sense of this approach is backed up by the stats too.  Take the analysis by Professor John Philip Jones of Syracuse University, NY.  He only found one example of an ad, where there was no short term impact, which had a long-term positive effect.

What advertisers should demand is a real, tangible and measureable short-term commercial result from their advertising.  Not something that’s soft, woolly and cuddly, but something that would make ‘Surallen’ Sugar smile.  For example more sales, more buyers, existing buyers buying more, goods sold for higher prices, higher margins etc.

So, if you can’t measure your advertising or it doesn’t deliver these tangibles, short-term, I suggest you don’t do it.  Save the money, have a rethink and develop marketing activity that does give you an immediate measureable return.


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