If someone was to ask me what I thought was the most underexploited type of advertising in the engineering and scientific markets, I’d say brand advertising online. Here’s why. There’s loads of evidence to show that brand advertising makes a difference. People see your name around, it registers, and when the time comes for them to buy and they see your product advertising, they’re far more likely to give you a hearing. You’ll know this is true if you’re a small company with a good product, you make that product visible in the right places, but you still fail to make a lot of shortlists.
The problem with brand advertising is that it’s a bit unquantifiable. Advertisers don’t mind that so much if the media they’re using (e.g. TV or even print) is also a bit unquantifiable. If you want to remind people of your name, maybe the front cover of a trade journal is somewhere you can do it without any disappointing results. Or indeed, any results.
Online, everything’s all about conversions and clicks and return on investment. Poor old brand advertising is a bit of an afterthought. And yet it can be very cheap. If your online product advertising has proved that your customers are active online, then why not consider brand advertising there too? You can use the Google “Display Network” of third party websites to advertise very cheaply, with the express objective of getting your name noticed, rather than lots of clickthroughs. And the new “responsive ad” format allows you to get massive coverage on a broad range of devices without needing a designer to create image (“banner”) adverts.
For example, let’s say you want to do a branding advert campaign and want to spend £500 a month on it. If cost-per-click is £1, the 500 visits you’re going to generate for your website are a nice bonus, but the real objective is getting your name seen. At a click-through rate of 0.1%, which would not be untypical, you’re talking about your advert being shown 500,000 times. In a month. Just in this country (or wherever you want it to show). And only on specified websites if you wish.
Now, of course your online ad won’t be seen and registered every time it shows, but neither does every copy of that magazine get unwrapped (never mind the reader noticing your ad on page 32). But even if your name only registers with a web user on 10% of the occasions where it shows, that’s still 50,000 times in a month.
Showing your name to prospects for 1p a time? Seems like a bargain to me.