A case for web advertising
In television and print, awareness advertising has been taken for granted since mass-market media was invented. Coke and Nike and tons of other companies pay millions to TV and magazines every year just to remind you they exist. There’s no offer in their ads, they just want to stay fresh in your mind. However, when it comes to web advertising, they balk. They don’t want to pay money to websites with significant a audience because click-through and response rates aren’t as high as they would like them to be. They will pay NBC sick amounts of money to show ads on a medium that shows no direct response rate and who’s views are based on guesses with flawed logic but they refuse to give comparably miniscule amounts of money to websites that can give them ACTUAL audience figures while still delivering the intangibles.
As a web marketer and a guy who has tried to gather support for up-and-coming web sites and deserving web content providers, I find this annoying. If TV had to turn to a pay-per-performance model, it would shut down before the next show came on. If magazine and newspaper ads were priced based on how many readers called the advertiser after seeing the ad, you could forget all print media immediately. Why do they charge so much? Because they know and advertisers know and anybody with an ounce of rationalizing ability knows that seeing something keeps it fresh in your mind and even if you don’t respond immediately to a Coke ad, the next time you’re in the store (everything else being equal), you’re more likely to get a Coke because you heard about it most recently. Therefore, even if you don’t respond to an ad you see online, the advertiser receives value from it’s placement on the site where you saw it.
I was thinking about all this recently because I’ve been off from work the past couple days with my son who is home from school on spring break. A couple weeks ago, I received a Groupon email for Taylor Backes glass studio. They were offering a discount on classes. I wasn’t able to take advantage of the classes, but I emailed the studio and asked if people were allowerd to drop by and watch them work. They very cordially responded that I would be welcome any time they were open. Since the boy was off from school, I took him over to the shop to see what we could.
The gallery there is breathtaking. They have cool bowls, and glasses and other fare that you would expect. But most amazingly – they make these fish sculptures that are so life-like that I literally forgot I was looking at glass. And there’s this angler fish (I’m so annoyed that I didn’t take a picture) that I cannot find words fantastic enough to describe.
After touring the gallery, the boy and I walked over to the door to the studio and poked our heads in. One of the guys in there said, “Someone will be with you in a moment.”
I responded, “Actually, we’d like to watch you work if we can.”
He answered, “Sure, come on in and look around all you want.” We did, and it was fascinating for me and fun for the boy too.
Now, I don’t know when I will be in the market next for an $1800 glass sculpture, but you can bet that every time I think of glass for the next several years, I will think of that studio. Whenever glass comes up in conversation, I will likely try to work that trip and the quality of their work into the conversation. And if I am ever in need of custom glass work, there is no other place I will go.
Can Groupon track that and add it to the total of Taylor Backes’ value in running the promo with them? No. Does that make it any less valuable than a TV or newspaper ad? Absolutely not. And this is why we as Web proprietors need to stick to our guns when selling ad space and why we need to try harder to sell the lasting value. Just because some aspects of our audience are hyper-trackable doesn’t make the intangibles any less valuable or important than those sold by other media.