Advertising: powered by inertia

I regularly look through the trade mags which have made it well past the date by which they were supposed to have been blown away by the internet. About half of those which I worked on in the decade or more I was a print magazine editor have now disappeared, but others seem quite healthy (and I’m glad, because a lot of old friends work for them). However, when I study the advertisements which keep them going, I do get the impression that the majority are placed by people who either don’t really know what they’re doing, or (more likely) haven’t got the time to do it properly. Maybe they just think: “Look, I don’t know if magazine advertising works any more, and I haven’t got time to find out if it’s does, but I need to be seen to advertise, so I’ll just get something nice in the next issue and that’s another item off the to-do list”.

Most of the advertisements I see are suffering from one simple fault: they don’t seem to have been placed with a real objective in mind. Now, many print magazines have loyal, influential readerships. A well-crafted, eye-catching message will get noticed, and probably by a large number of the people you’d want to get noticed by. So for branding, or a corporate message of some sort, magazines are a strong contender to be your primary outlet, and if advertising is the best way to get in them, then it’s time to open the chequebook.

But many ads just seem to be half-hearted attempts to generate a few sales leads. And that’s one area where online marketing left print for dead a long time ago. Not because online marketing reaches more people, or better people (although it probably does), but because it’s measurable. You know who reads your promotional emails. You only pay for actual page views when you use pay-per-click advertising. You can even take out pay-per-sale advertising online now – what’s more accountable than that? The list goes on. As far as lead generation goes, speculative advertising with no measurable results should be dead. It’s astonishing that it continues.

Anyway, enough of my rant. If you want to step back and take a look at your advertising, in print or online, there are some good articles around which will inspire you in that process. Here’s a random one: Analyze Your Advertising with this 9 Point Inspection on Ron Brauner’s Blog. It’s good. But before you read it, perhaps there’s a more fundamental question to ask: what am I actually advertising for? Finally getting rid of the magazine’s ad sales rep isn’t really a good enough reason.

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