I was riding my motorbike last night behind a bus. Being a motorcyclist I’m impatient, and don’t wait behind buses very long. Just before I flew past I noticed an ad on the back:
“Bus advertising,” it began, “it’s the next big thing…”
“Uhhhh. NAH!” I said to myself in my helmet.
I’m often asked whether specific media work. Do Facebook ads work? Does direct mail work?
I’ve even asked myself: does bus advertising work?
The answer is that all of these things work 100% of the time. Facebook will always show your ad if you configure your campaign correctly. Which is still a Herculean task, it has to be said.
Royal Mail – or your local equivalent – will deliver almost 100% of the mailers you send. And most of those will get at least a cursory glance. Which is more than can be said for email.
If you buy space on a bus, people in cars, on foot or in queues will see the ad. So technically it does work.
The question is, can you measure it and does it work for you.
Some media are obviously more measurable than others. How would you measure the performance of an ad on a bus?
Well for starters, you shouldn’t put a QR code on it. Nobody is going to scan a QR code on a bus. But an easily memorable voucher code or SMS shortcode might work. You can usually create a measurement with a little imagination.
Secondly, something like a bus ad has to be part of a wider campaign. If you’re going to advertise on buses, then you probably ought to go for bus shelters too, and handout flyers. Which dramatically increases the cost.
Even Google have acknowledged that a single display ad is unlikely to generate a sale, which is why they report on ‘view through conversions’. (i.e. when somebody saw a Google display ad, then converted later through a different ad click).
We all have a bias towards particular media. It’s usually best to leave your assumptions at the door, and test anything where the numbers might work for you.