Online and print advertising are created under the same rules. Both have to catch and keep attention. Both have to relate to the interests of a specific market group. And both have to inspire some sort of action (unless run purely for branding purposes).
Online and print advertising are developed with the same creative mindset. The technology, not the creative mission, is the point of difference.
Online advertising is discovering what print advertising has always known. Context is critical for success. Print ads have always run in the context of content that people value (they pay for it). If people spend time with content, ads run there have a better chance of being noticed.
The majority of online readers spend only seconds on a web page. Click throughs do not indicate success. In fact, the articles with the highest views (such as lists) are likely to receive the least amount of attention and engagement. Traffic per se is not important; holding the attention of the right audience is the real benchmark to aim for. Don’t believe me? Then read this article on web marketing by Tony Haile.
Further, although the Internet is trackable, the flood of data is not meaningful. Online metrics have not been parsed into marketing truths. Internet marketers are laboring under a lot of misconceptions regarding clicks, traffic, page views, and sharing. A group of economists concluded after an empirical study most of the data used by online advertisers is essentially useless.
In fact, research shows that print ads are more memorable than online ads, all else being equal.
And social media isn’t the answer. Research shows that most people don’t read shared content. Social media does not have a clear correlation to increased sales. So social media suffers from the same confusion as the rest of the online world.
Scope: Print ads have a specific circulation
Online ads can reach anyone anywhere. You can do geo targeting and choose display networks, but you don’t have much control over the online context. That means your audience is less “distilled,” for lack of a better term.
Cost: Print advertising has a higher ROI than online ads
Magazines do the best overall. Which makes sense, because magazines have the most targeted readership. The real issue: Both online and offline ads function the same way: grab and keep attention, inspire action or a thought. What differs is the medium (or context). Print has spent 200 years figuring out how to be a relevant and powerful context. The online world is still figuring out how to work as a viable context for marketing messages. So online marketers and publishers are scurrying to introduce new formulas – native advertising (sponsored stories) being one of the newest. This would be the equivalent of an advertorial in the print world.
Choose An Old School Copywriter
Old school copywriters get it when it comes to creating awareness, interest, and action through advertising. If they have survived the ad agency world, they have at least minimal competence. In a counter-intuitive way, print advertising writers are a better choice for online advertising than bloggers and content marketers.
Choose A Copywriter Who Is Web Savvy
Yes, you want an old school copywriter. But you also want one who understands the Internet as a marketing medium. The old school brain is versed in the message. The Internet brain is versed in how to convey that message using channels such as website content and social media. The Internet has technical considerations, much the same way television has technical considerations. So a writer has to understand those parameters in order to create effective online communication.
It still comes down to magic. Online and offline, the decisive difference between ads is creativity.
Provocative, attention-getting ads will always work better than bland, scientific ads. It’s human nature. And human nature is the real nature of marketing.
Why Work With Me?
Research on human buying behavior is a thriving industry. In other words, researchers are still hunting for the answers because they don’t have the answers.
No one can really predict how an ad or ad campaign will perform. No one can promise you X more sales or customers. Every competent professional, including myself, can point to the sales letter that got a 77 percent increase in response or the ad campaign that boosted awareness threefold. But no one can guarantee your ad will achieve the same or similar results. If they do, ask them to work strictly for a percentage of increased sales.
I guarantee fresh, creative thinking. In other words, ads that get noticed. That spark interest. That stick in the viewer’s mind. And that adhere to the intangible spirit of your brand. This isn’t science. It’s art.