Integrate Banner Ads – Count the Clicks & Measure the Returns

Curious about the inside scoop, the things you don’t hear from the sales executives of the world or glean from sell sheets and white papers? Seeking the information that will justify marketing budget expenditures to upper management? Read on, especially if you’re proposing that the big dogs drop dollars on your integrated online marketing plan this year.

The most common misconception I hear from the top down is that online banner ads are just branding initiatives and they don’t deliver any return—aka “Show me the ROI or your budget for this flashy non-sense is toast“.

This is:

a) Understandable because as marketers we rely on a return to justify our very existence within an organization.

b) Completely ludicrous because without brand recognition: sales flop or remain steady at best, marketing expenses shoot through the roof and the organization is destined for locked doors and a staff of none.

c) Even more ludicrous considering that online banner ads are one of the easiest media forms to track—from initial contact, to closed sale—even if the process takes 6 months.

d) Most definitely ludicrous if the online media manager you are working with suggests that you run online banner advertising exclusively as a branding initiative—we all know those pretty flashy creations are best suited for lead generation.

Here’s a good example you can customize, use to get your budget for those fancy flash ads approved, and show a tangible return while building your brand.

No matter what industry you’re working in—it’s safe to say that it takes a well balanced media plan to deliver optimum results. As consumers (whether we represent a business or we’re making purchases for ourselves), we no longer rely on just one type of media to collect the information that influences our purchasing decisions.

For example, your boss says, “Find a new email marketing service provider, this week”.

Quickly, you recall a print ad you saw in one of the trade pubs that piled up on your desk last week. You can remember the logo and the color of the ad but aren’t 100% certain about the name of the company. And, you recycled the pub last week.

You turn to your computer to make your first attempt at managing your smoking inbox for the day. In it, you come across a wordy email campaign with a convoluted subject line (yes, I am subtly telling you this is an email marketing “don’t”) which looks to be touting the same email marketing company you recalled from the print ad. You attempt to get through it but your phone rings and your inbox continues to fill so you file the email away.

Later in the day, while reviewing headlines that came through your RSS reader—you see an online banner ad for that same email marketing company. Finally, you know the name of the company. You click on the banner ad as directed to receive a free 3 minute demo of the company’s capabilities. Your boss walks into your office—you have 2 minutes left in the demo and close it out. Later that afternoon, you have a few free minutes to dig in to hiring a new email marketing service provider. You bring up Google, type in the name of the email marketing company you have now been coveting for the entire day, click through to their website and request a proposal.

It was print, email marketing, online banner ads and search engine optimization that got you there.

When you clicked on the banner ad—it surely wasn’t your first attempted interaction with the email marketing company, in fact, it was almost your last. But your interaction with that banner is traceable (if indeed the company in question has the appropriate analytics tools). From that click you then traveled to the website and requested a proposal and thus became a lead for the sales team. Two weeks later, your boss signs off on the contract with the new email marketing company—delivering a tangible return on the marketing investment that was made in the online banner ad campaign you saw.

Would you have clicked without the preceding print ad and email campaign? Most likely not… it was the integration of all of the print, email and online campaigns that allowed the company to build some brand recognition with you before you could even recall the name of the company so that you could search for them on Google.

Integration builds stronger brands, stronger brands build greater brand recognition and loyalty, brand loyalty drives word of mouth branding and referral business—which of course drives down the cost of marketing your business. Integration works and delivers measurable returns. Try it—and don’t eliminate those fancy flash ads.