Does offline advertising really work, or are you just stupid?

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.

Talent Oregon Wagner Street Project

Wow, lots of work on the old house this past 10 days without a lot to show for it but I think the “turning point” is near where things will start to feel more like the big progress I was hoping for.

The little back porch is completed with some 3/4″ cedar boards that are really pretty and I got at a great discount of .50 per foot. This wood is somewhat thin for a porch though ~3/4 fir was the most common porch board historically around here so it looks correct.

I’ll seal it with special stain today (Red Cedar transparent deck stain) and it should look super nice that way, though I may eventually have to paint this to be consistent with the house exterior paint job. Historically the (clear and gorgeous) woods used in construction were stained dark or painted.

A bottleneck has been the proper removal / disposal of the asbestos sheet flooring that was in kitchen and popcorn ceiling in living room (which may contain asbestos). You can pay a small fortune to have this work done or do it yourself as owner, so I’m doing it. Like so many environmental “evils”, the story of asbestos is really interesting and confusing. The more I know about the many issues (which is quite a bit now), the less I seem to understand. Here’s a neat asbestos identification guide from NY.

Asbestos went from wonder material used in millions of houses and thousands of schools and buildings to despised cancer-causing nightmare material requiring very special disposal procedures. There is a substantial bureaucracy in place via the DEQ to give advice about removal procedures but they won’t help identify the materials. For that you need lab analysis at $20 per sample. I’m treating the ceiling popcorn stuff as contaminated but should have had it sampled because it’s messy and if it’s *not* asbestos I could do this work faster, but it’s almost done now. The ceiling stuff scraped off smoothly after wetting using a sheetrock taping blade. I covered the floor with the 6 mil plastic required for disposal (2 layers of 6 mil plastic, both layers sealed with duct tape for most of the disposal wrapping though I can also use a cardboard box, sealed with duct tape and then wrapped with 6 mil).

Hey, maybe I AM making good progress!