If advertising worked as well as is commonly thought, there would far fewer advertising salespeople. I’m not saying in all cases “advertising does not work”, rather in *almost all cases* image advertising is not as cost effective as online marketing, and in *many* cases I’d suggest that offline advertising has a negative ROI for the sector with which I’m most familiar – marketing travel destinations and tourism related businesses.
Yes, I can easily prove this. Just give me any offline advertising campaign set of “successful results”, using whatever measure you care to define as “successful results”, and I’ll show how you can duplicate the effect for 1/2 to 1/10th the cost online. I may even be willing to fund this “experiment” for a destination or travel business if I could blog the results here.
I think big ticket / big brand advertising may work because it scales well. ATT can do a national campaign, reach people at a low cost per impression. Since almost everybody above age 15 is a very strong potential ATT customer there are far fewer “wasted impressions” than, for example, with a national campaign for Oregon Travel where you are advertising to many who simply can’t afford to make the trip or are very unlikely travel candidates.
Obiviously promotion of a destination or a business is critical to success. However promotion of things is done in many ways direct and nuanced. I’m suggesting that image advertising is low on the list of important promotion forms. I eat at the best restaurant here in Talent – Avalon – because experience shows the food, service, and ambiance is consistently very nice. When travelling I like to ask locals for recommendations rather than read a bunch of advertisements, though best is to have internet available so you can surf around to find the best restaurant. (I don’t like surfing with my Treo but I think with the iPhone we’ll pass the tipping point with mobile browsing for travel stuff).
For destinations here in Oregon like Southern Oregon or the Oregon Coast I’d suggest, somewhat educatedly based on 10 years promoting travel here online, that websites are responsible for more than 50% of the “promotion related increases” in Oregon travel economic activity. I’d guess, also somewhat educatedly, that the largest share of travel related economic activity is best attributed to word of mouth and general life trends rather than free internet or advertising or direct promotion (e.g. people visiting relatives, attending events, or people retire and finally have the time to “drive the west coast”, etc, etc).
The advertising mythos is as pervasive as many others, and the more I study “image advertising” the more skeptical I become. With auctions becoming increasingly popular offline and online it’ll be very interesting to see how prices will shake out. If the markets are as efficient as they could theoretically be, we’ll soon have some great data sets for comparing values of offline and online ads.