What’s the Deal With Billboards?

I just got back from a fantastic — however, too short — trip to the Adirondacks. I unplugged, did some hiking, and regularly wondered during my drive up north why certain marketers still feel the need to invest in billboards.

You know they’re going to have a decent snack aisle there. | Credit: Wikimedia Commons by Colin

I just got back from a fantastic — however, too short — trip to the Adirondacks. I unplugged, showed my boyfriend one of my favorite places on earth, did some hiking, played in a ridiculous 3-inning wiffle ball tournament with my cousins and regularly wondered during my drive up north why certain marketers still feel the need to invest in billboards.

Now, don’t get me wrong … the billboards that alert you to an upcoming deluxe truck stop in 10 miles, or a brewery and restaurant two exits away are 100 percent okay by me. They provide travelers with quick information that is actionable 98 percent of the time. Good deal.

However, the billboard for a digital agency that I saw on 95 North? That is a billboard I question.

Now, I didn’t get a shot of the billboard because I was driving, and mentioning WHO it is also doesn’t really matter for this post. Why? Because I don’t know much about this company (though I just did a little googling), and I think I want to keep looking at this from a blind perspective. So let’s get back to that.

The billboard hails the company as an expert in SEO, PPC, social, Web design … all things that are digital, pasted onto essentially a huge sign by the interstate. And sure, we see display ads everywhere: bus stop shelters, inside train cars, on subway walls. But in most of those settings, the prospect is sitting or standing still, can take in the information, and if there is a call to action, can take it.

Because they’re not driving a vehicle 72 mph down the highway.

I’m not sure how many people are going to be able to take action on a billboard like that. Perhaps if they drive that way to work every day, the name will stick in their heads and they’ll remember to look the company up once they get in the office … maybe. Depends on how gnarly that inbox is.

But I certainly hope I don’t see someone looking this company up on their phone as they floor it to get to work on time.

So I ask: Why? What’s the point for this kind of advertising? On one hand you might tell me that this company sticks out among the Utz pretzel and various beer billboards (all brand exposure focused), and on the other hand I’ll say that I don’t know if I can trust a company who sinks cash into billboards. And don’t get me started on the billboards I’ve seen with QR Codes (thankfully, fewer and fewer nowadays).

That said, the digital billboards that Netflix had for the Santa Clarita Diet were pretty great.

So marketers tell me: Yay or nay to billboard advertising.

Retargeting With Demand-Side Platforms in Display Performance Media

A key driver for growth in display advertising is the rise of technology that seeks to bring efficiency to ad impression buying — i.e., demand-side platforms (DSPs). Approximately 10 percent of today’s online spending flows through DSPs, with forecasts calling for that figure to increase to as much as 50 percent over the next few years.

A key driver for growth in display advertising is the rise of technology that seeks to bring efficiency to ad impression buying — i.e., demand-side platforms (DSPs). Approximately 10 percent of today’s online spending flows through DSPs, with forecasts calling for that figure to increase to as much as 50 percent over the next few years.

Large brands will fuel much of this growth as they shift large ad network budgets to DSPs for better pricing, increased transparency/brand safety, centralized ownership, protection of visitor data, among other benefits. Even marketers who failed with display in the past can achieve success with the ad vehicle in the present via DSPs, thanks to the inherent advantages some DSPs bring to the table.

Many direct and performance-based marketers who were unable to measure traditional display buys to a reasonable return on investment in the past are starting to explore DSPs as a new source of incremental sales and leads. Since a retargeting buy is publisher agnostic (i.e., the advertiser is buying impressions served to specific cookies, not impressions served on specific websites or content channels), DSPs offer the most scale and efficiency, reaching 98 percent of internet users through one-bid management platform using global frequency controls.

Thanks to these advantages and the relevance they offer, retargeting campaigns often convert two times to 10 times more than traditional display ads, and can, at times, show an ROI equal to or better than generic search or content targeting campaigns.

Display advertising continues to evolve, and certain key strategies are starting to take shape that can help advertisers control risk while gaining valuable insights for future channel maximization. Depending on website traffic and ROI flexibility, performance-based advertisers typically have the most success kicking off testing with site-based retargeting.

This strategy enables advertisers to retarget consumers who visited their site, browsed and left without ever converting into a lead or sale. By placing a retargeting tag in the footer of these pages (e.g., the home or shopping cart pages), advertisers can build and bid on multiple retargeting segments using segment-specific messaging or offers across the web through an ad buy on either a DSP or ad network.

So why not just limit testing to retargeting? Although advertisers may be able to achieve ROI close to search or affiliate campaigns with retargeting, impression volume will eventually limit growth. Similar to the role of generic terms in driving brand term volume in a paid search campaign, it’s important to test and explore a broader set of display performance media strategies that may work at higher, more flexible RS/CPA levels in conjunction with retargeting to help drive site traffic that feeds a retargeting cookie pool.

DSPs can help advertisers implement these strategies. Run of network buys (testing different DSPs/networks with and without filters), contextual targeting and site targeting, when bought in a biddable marketplace, are all viable in driving cost-effective traffic to an advertiser’s site. If an advertiser has the right tools and processes in place, DSPs can even be profitable in and of themselves.

For advertisers that are willing to be more flexible and effectively leverage it, display performance media can quickly become the next big untapped channel. These emerging strategies will continue to evolve and pave the way for targeted display advertising for years to come.

Special thanks to contributing author Kirstin Peters of Performics.

LeadsCon: Everything You Want To Know About Online Lead Gen

Had a great time at LeadsCon this week.

I was invited to serve on an expert panel of judges for LeadsCon’s “In the Spotlight’ Company Showcase.” The showcase, which took place on April 3, the first day of the first LeadsCon, provided a stage for some companies that may not be well known to a general audience, but had something truly unique to talk about.

Had a great time at LeadsCon this week.

I was invited to serve on an expert panel of judges for LeadsCon’s “In the Spotlight’ Company Showcase.” The showcase, which took place on April 3, the first day of the first LeadsCon, provided a stage for some companies that may not be well known to a general audience, but had something truly unique to talk about.

Other judges on the panel included Jodi Harris, managing editor, iMediaConnection; Mike Kelly, media advisor, investor and chairman, Eyeblaster; and Jay Webster, general manager, lead generation, Yahoo.

Each company presented for seven minutes. Us judges then had two to three minutes during which to share our impressions with moderator Saar Gur (Partner, Charles River Ventures). The companies represented a broad mix, and each were selected for bringing something slightly different to the table. They were all really neat.

Two companies aid in the acquisition of customers (MarketingAnd and Creative Calls), while another was one of the pioneers in the new era of ad networks (SocialMedia Networks). Others were AdReady, which makes display advertising as accessible as search; GLAM Interactive Group, a women’s-only business networking group; and Mint.com, a consumer-oriented Web site that shows what happens when you focus on the consumer and build something they can’t live without. And, one company was well established (TARGUSinfo) but presented a new product helped make quality a focus in this space.

The winner? SocialMedia Networks, because they have built an innovative platform for publishers of social media applications to monetize their traffic.

I thought they were all great, though!

The conference in general has been great as well. LeadsCon was created and produed by well-know online lead generation guy Jay Weintraub. It is a conference and expo expressly designed for companies and individuals in the online lead generation and customer acquisition industry.

Many conferences address online advertising and marketing, and some vertical confercne address online lead generation in their industry, but LeadsCon is the only event I know of to focus entirely on the challenges, issues and opportunities that are unique to the fast-growing, sometimes controversial and ever-changing online lead generation and customer acquisition segment.

The conference was targeted, well attended (over 600 total attendees, according to Jay) and interesting. It also had a warm, family feeling to it. In fact, Jay’s mom helped out with registration! And most speakers were fiends with Jay from his background –he worked at Advertising.com and Oversee.net—and all commented on what a great guy he is.

Congratulations, Jay!