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Building an integrated advertising toolbox • Go to Market, D&S Spring 2017

June 21, 2017 | By Anthony Capkun

John MacPherson, group publisher and director of business development with Annex Business Media.

June 21, 2017 – The media landscape is more complex than ever, and there are also more places than ever—print, digital, social media, etc.—in which to invest your marketing dollars to get your message out there.

Not surprisingly, this creates a lot of confusion, which is why I often get questions like: What are the pros/cons of these various avenues? Is there a silver bullet advertising vehicle that does everything?

Sadly, there is no silver bullet. As for the first question, however, different media formats achieve different end results, and they each have their place. The discussion then becomes one of what it is you are trying to achieve with your reader, viewer, surfer, etc.—all of whom collectively make up your audience.

To that end, let’s take a look at some of the more common forms of advertising—Print, Web, eProducts—and weigh their pros and cons against desired outcomes.


Print advertising
PROS: Believe it or not, print still has the highest level of audience engagement as compared to other forms of media. A person who has chosen to sit down with a magazine or newspaper is not easily distracted—they are 100% engaged while they read.

And, in the case of professional, third-party audited business publications (B2B), they are mailed to qualified readers (those who fit the industry and/or demographic categories the publications serves) who not only flip through them again and again, but who also pass them on to other readers in their office or shop (pass-along readership). As such, print is an excellent vehicle for building your brand and maintaining visibility in the market.

CONS: As a one-way form of communication, print has a hard time demonstrating ROI to an advertiser i.e. how do you know your audience has seen your ad and is taking action? Unless the ad has a very specific call to action (e.g. distinct URL, QR Code), you cannot tell how many proverbial widgets you’ve sold as a direct result of that ad. In fact, ROI is a rather poor metric for any advertising, which is why I frame the conversation around Return on Objectives: Did your plan achieve its pre-determined objectives? Are you maintaining and/or strengthening your brand’s presence in the market?

Web advertising
PROS: Advertising space on websites is typically sold on a monthly basis, so you get some decent, regular exposure to your audience. Surrounding your ad is also content that, hopefully, is engaging your audience, keeping them on the page longer and, by extension, keeping your brand in front of them longer. You also have metrics/analytics that give you an indication as to what kind of a traffic is coming to that website and being exposed to your ad, and how many are clicking on your ad.

CONS: A website is reactive advertising. It is based on people coming to you, rather than you reaching out to them. Plus, you have real no idea who is visiting that website… you could get their IP addresses, and maybe do some geotargeting, but you cannot identify specific individuals.

eProducts advertising
PROS: I say eProduct to include any form of content/marketing sent to an email address. This includes eNewsletters, eBlasts, vBlasts, eMarketing, etc. (different publishers have their own jargon). The single-biggest benefit is you are being proactive, delivering your message directly into the Inbox of someone who has elected to receive information from the publisher.

(This last point is very important. By now you must know of CASL [Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation]. “Forward to a friend” does not exist any more. You cannot simply email anyone at any time… not unless you want to face the consequences!)

So your message is reaching a willing, engaged readership, and better analytics (open rate, click-through, leads) can be generated because the eProduct is connected to an actual individual in the publisher’s database (not like an anonymous website visitor).

CONS: eProducts have a very short shelf life. If there is any interest in your message, it will typically happen in the first 12 hours of receipt. After that, it will likely be filed or more likely deleted. But the biggest problem, by far, is Inbox fatigue, and we all know what this is: being overwhelmed with so much email noise in our Inboxes that we just delete everything that’s not essential to our daily business or doesn’t immediately capture our attention. With their short life spans, eProducts are best reserved for things like, say, a time-sensitive promotion, an upcoming event, new product launches, etc.

An integrated toolbox
People are increasingly selective with the ways in which they choose to receive content, and they do not necessarily subscribe to all methods of delivery (some may only subscribe to print, others only digital, etc.). Additionally, the depth of content consumed varies by medium: digital tends to be short, concise bits of information whereas print allows for greater depth of content. Because of this, and the pros and cons above, you should actually do a little bit of everything, flexing the full potential of an integrated program to achieve the greatest Return on Objectives.

John MacPherson is a media professional with 20+ years of experience across numerous publishing platforms and industries, helping clients achieve their Return on Objective. He is a group publisher and director of business development with Annex Business Media, Canada’s largest family-owned B2B publishing house. Call John at 416-997-0377 or email jmacpherson@annexweb.com .

This column originally appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Distribution & Supply.

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