Why increasing your digital ad spend is safer than media buys

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Marketing is about one acronym: ROI. Nothing hurts more than wasted marketing dollars, and it’s hard to prove something you can’t track. That’s why digital marketing, when done properly, is a safer bet than traditional mass media.

It’s hard to understand the effects of your marketing with inaccurate information. Digital marketing provides the most accurate demographic, geographic, and psychographic information available to marketers, and every sale is trackable from impression to conversion. When compared to traditional mass media, digital reigns supreme in its flexibility and granular data.

Digital media allows you to target tight demographics

Traditional media provides you with demographic ratings for each station, which is more or less an estimate of how many “males 25-54 in Salt Lake City” are listening at certain parts of the day. What if your product doesn’t appeal to all males 25-54 in Salt Lake City? Tough luck; that’s as tight as a demographic you can get.

With digital platforms you can target a potential customer by area/zip code, device, keyword, age, gender, job title, interests, time of day, and past purchase history. If you have a restaurant or store in a specific neighborhood within a city, you wouldn’t want to target the whole 50-mile metro area—you’d just want to target the area codes where you actually have stores located.

Digital marketing is flexible

The flexibility of digital marketing is unmatched. I’ve been in situations where clients have called me to tell me that they are short on staff and can’t handle anymore work due to an employee quitting or getting injured and need to pause their advertising to catch up. If you have a billboard on the side of the interstate, be ready to turn leads away. With pay-per-click, digital display advertising, or paid social media, you have the ability to turn off your campaign with a click, anytime of the day.

Another popular complaint I have heard from clients is: “The phone is ringing but the leads are weak or cheap.” The cause of this might be that the creative was sending the wrong message or the advertising reached the wrong audience. With traditional media, it’s hard to change your messaging after the buy has happened. With digital media it’s possible to turn off specific keywords that lead to low-quality calls or change the offer in the ad to a message that attracts a more desirable clientele.

Track the effectiveness of every dollar spent

Digital channels have the power when it comes to tracking. Pay-per-click reigns supreme in this department. Pay-per-click provides more data than any other channel. You can track a user from impression to click, click to call, and call to conversation. If you have conversion tracking set up, you can check what your cost per acquisition is on a daily basis. Conversions can even be tracked if a user doesn’t decide to buy until up to 30 days later. Learn more about tracking in an article I wrote called, ”How to Track Your Marketing Campaign’s Effectiveness

Mass media demographic reports are grossly inaccurate 

The radio rating agency Arbitron uses a device called Portable People Meter (PPM) that tracks what station the wearer is listening to via an inaudible signal in the broadcast. My hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) has approximately 2.2 million residents in the metropolitan area. In 2013, SLC had 875 meters to establish the ratings that stations sell advertising from. That translates to .04 percent of the population representing the listening behavior of the whole city.

Continuing along the lines of audience, mass media cannot give you exact reach or impression numbers from an advertisement. Digital media such as PPC, display network, and digital radio streaming can give you the exact account of times a user was exposed to an ad, whether they interacted with it is a different story. Mass media cannot provide more proof than your ad ran at a specific time.

If your ad was buried at the end of a commercial break, chances are the listener or viewer changed the channel or pressed fast forward on their DVR.

Not so mass media?

I’m not saying that mass media cannot be effective. I am warning you that there is a large room for error. Missing your target market equals wasted budget.

John Wannamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” If your budget is strapped, start with the stuff that you can prove works. Leave the brand awareness campaigns to the corporations with disposable marketing budgets—although, even big brands such as Ruffles are going strictly digital.

Photo via StraightNorth.com

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Jared Gardner

Jared Gardner

Jared is a digital marketer at Jakob Marketing Partners in Utah. He graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in communication. He enjoys snowboarding and attending concerts. Jared typically covers SMB topics from the digital space.