Proving the Value of Magazine and Billboard Advertising

EAG, December 11, 2020

If you run a small business or lead your firm’s marketing efforts, you want proof that your marketing investment is paying off. With digital advertising, like email and display ads, you can measure success by open and click-through rates. But what about magazine and billboard advertising?

If you run ads in magazines or put up billboards around town, you might hear from customers “Hey, I saw you out there on I-35.” That’s great feedback, but it doesn’t indicate prospect interest or light up a spreadsheet.

When we do recommend magazine and billboard advertising, it’s because we’ve determined it effectively reaches the client’s target audience and can build brand awareness. It’s a travesty when a campaign is nixed because it’s perceived as hard to measure results.

Here are proven strategies for adding measurability and accountability to magazine and billboard advertising.

Add a response channel to magazine ads

Every industry has its trade media publications, which often include an online component. The key for tracking results is to include response channels like 800 numbers, custom URLs, or even QR codes.

Case in point: Water Technology Group provides pumping and process equipment to the oil and gas, petrochemical, and water/wastewater treatment industries. We created an ad campaign to promote Water Technology Group. Note the 800 number and website that are featured prominently. It makes the ads measurable.

The value of response channels in magazine advertising goes beyond response. If you’re running ads in several different publications, you can associate a specific 800 number and unique landing page URL with each. Doing so allows you to optimize your media spend. If one publication delivers better results than another, reallocate your media spend to the higher performer.

Trade media is just one type of magazine. In Kansas City, we have many locally-known magazines: Kansas City Magazine, The Pitch, KC Parent and Ingram’s, to name a few. When advertising in these publications, be sure to make the best use of your response channels.

Calculate impressions with billboard advertising

Drive around, and you’ll see billboards everywhere. Billboards can be used to drive traffic to your store, promote services, or bring attention to your business. Does billboard advertising work? The answer is yes, but it’s made more difficult when you’re the one writing the check or allocating your budget to billboards. You need ways to measure billboard effectiveness.

You can consult the Dept. of Transportation’s traffic reports to compute the number of cars that pass your billboards and the resulting impressions. It’s called Daily Effective Circulations or DEC, referring to the number of vehicles or pedestrians that pass by your billboard daily.

Another measurement to consider is device use among drivers and passengers (PSA: don’t text and drive). Check your Google Analytics for traffic spikes during typical drive times. Or put a hashtag on your billboard and see what happens on Twitter. Get creative with radio and podcasts listened to inside vehicles. Challenge listeners to spot a billboard and respond for a special offer.

It can be challenging to measure billboard effectiveness, but this doesn’t diminish their purpose. They’re proven brand and business builders.

It pays to advertise

You can prove the value of magazine and billboard advertising through the use of response channels and by tabulating impressions.

The bottom line: advertising is important.

To grow your business or build your brand, it pays to advertise. It might be a magazine ad campaign, a series of billboards, or something else. It depends on your business, target market, goals, and more. Naturally, we can help with that, from strategizing and execution to measuring the response.


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