Sunday, March 1, 2009

From Garbage to Great – Advertising Rating Metric

I am one of those people who actually likes to watch the commercials. I enjoy advertising and always have. Um, well, I should qualify that a bit. I enjoy good advertising.

There is a tremendous amount of garbage being thrown at us that amounts to nothing more than noisy wallpaper. We as consumers screen and filter out this noise pretty well, too. So, with the power of the remote to skip over what we see, and the power of our own filters to screen out the advertorial noise, it’s no wonder that companies are finding it very hard to see any return on their advertising investment.

Though the current situation is bleak in terms of advertising effectiveness, it doesn’t have to be so. There is a lot of great advertising being done today, and in this week’s Metric Monday I thought I’d give you some pointers on how to evaluate your own advertising to ensure it is in the great category, not the garbage.

When it comes to developing and measuring your advertising, there are five key elements to keep in mind: Attention, Read-through, Cognitive, Affective, Behavior. Each is described in more detail below.

Attention: How well does your ad catch the attention of the target audience? Contrary to popular practice, key to getting attention is not to be obnoxious or blaringly loud. Rather, getting the attention of your target audience relates to one thing – are you pertinent?

Read-through: How well does your advertisement lead the target to go further into the ad itself? In other words, once you’ve got their attention what are you going to do with it? This is where most ads fail. In short, they’re boring and lack interesting qualities that deepen interest.

Cognitive: This has to do with the clarity of the central benefit of your message. What are you offering and is it clear to the target audience? How clear? Are you being overt or is your benefit-laden message hidden amongst jargon? (I like to ask my kids (ages 8 and 12) if they can pick this out. If not, it’s back to the drawing board!)

Affective: This relates to the appeal of your message and its overall emotional impact. My friend Martin Lindstrom noted in his groundbreaking book Buy-ology that every decision we make has an emotional component to it. So, you need to ensure you have an emotional (affective) appeal in your ads.

Behavior: It’s often said the number one failure of sales people is that they forget to ask for the sale. What is your ad specifically telling the target audience to do, think, or feel? What behavior are you hoping for and does your ad support that goal?

So here is the easy way of putting this together. Each element is worth 20 points. Begin to rate each element and add up your score. I’ve included a rating sheet for your use. Of course, this is a subjective tool and should be used in conjunction with a financial metric, but it will help you to ensure that what you put out has the greatest chance of achieving your goals.

Bottom line: Whether you are placing print ads, radio spots, or banner ads on Web sites, your job as a marketer is to fully understand your target audience so that your whole message (visuals and words) is relevant and important to them. Remember, advertising is NOT about you, but about what your target needs, wants, and demands. Take the ad rating sheet I’ve provided and have a group of customers rate your ads on a regular basis. This will keep you on track and effectively stewarding your marketing dollars.

-- David Kinard, PCM

[image credit: riptheskull]

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