On Q Communications Doesn’t Get It and is “Irresponsible”

May 7, 2008 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

One of the last sessions of the 2008 Canadian Franchise Association’s Annual Conference was provided by On Q Communications in a session entitled Public Relations: Reaching Your Target Audience. While I appreciate their willingness to share their thoughts and opinions on the role that PR has in an integrated marketing strategy, the message that they communicated was, in my opinion, inaccurate and misleading. Another audience member (Nicholas Austin from DraftFCB) commented to me afterward that not only do they not get it, but their message is “irresponsible”. I couldn’t agree more.

While there were several points that I take issue with within their presentation, I feel obliged to comment on one point in particular. Normally, I would just let things slide by, but as the conference provided every attendee with a copy of each of the presentations, I would hate to see not-attending participants misled by what they read. Hopefully, this post will start to clarify some facts. Or at least cause them to question the message before they accept it as gospel.

In their presentation, On Q had the following slide:

Is Advertising Dying?
Prices keep rising, yet audience is declining
Banner click through rates <0.20%
99.8% of advertising dollars wasted!
Measurement flaws

Not only did they butcher John Wanamaker’s famous axiom that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half””, they misled the audience. Though the actual number is always argued between analysts, search-based advertising represents approximately 40% of online advertising spend (and a 29% increase year-over-year according to Efficient Frontier’s “Search Engine Performance Report: Q4 2007). In fact, one could legitimately argue that because you don’t pay unless someone clicks on your advertisement, there has never been a more effective means of advertising, nor one that is as accountable. One could even argue that 100% of such advertising can be effective in the online world if used appropriately.

If a company who uses search marketing is not seeing a positive, measurable ROI from their campaigns, they are not doing it properly. No other medium can be measured with the detail that paid search can. As the owner of the destination site, you control their experience when they get to your site, you control the lead follow-up, you control the conversion, you even control the keyword that a user is clicking on [it is not the clickers problem if the search phrase and advertisement is not relevant to your business]. The beauty of search marketing is that if you truly can’t find keywords that are affordable within your business model, and you can’t convert them when they get to your site, then you have a flaw in your business model. Period.

One final rant… I am also not advocating using online and search advertising in isolation if your goal is overall brand awareness. There is still a place for “traditional” advertising. A new report by ThinkBox and the IAB indicated that “advertising on TV and online together results in 47% more positivity about a brand than using either in isolation” (see story on UTalkMarketing.com). And just to clarify, I am a huge proponent of integrating public relations into your marketing mix.

After the 2007 conference I came away telling a tale to colleagues about a question asked in marketing-centric session. In that session, a question was asked of the panelists [and I paraphrase], “What do you think of advertising on Google as the YellowPages sales reps were trying to push this”. To which the panelist, a CEO of a highly-successful system [and an award recipient at this year’s conference] replied [and again I paraphrase], “Well, it is not measurable, so she doesn’t recommend it.”

At the time, I wondered how she could have been so misled about the measurability of paid search advertising. However, after sitting through On Q’s presentation, I now know where such misinformation is originating.

It is definitely an uphill battle in communicating the value of new marketing techniques into this vertical. But also, there lies the opportunity.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Canadian Franchise Association – Sessions and Speeches Pizza.com, Internet Pizza Ordering and Successful Online Marketing

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