In the last couple of weeks I’ve spoken to two different web companies who are considering a TV advertising campaign.

Maybe I’m just tainted by the specific companies I’ve worked with, but I find that to be a frustrating and disappointing approach to marketing, and one which I expect to fail.

Here is the question:

Can anybody give me any example of a web-based business that has achieved long-term benefits from a TV advertising campaign?

Temporary spikes in traffic don’t count, as the evidence suggests that this quickly reverses once the ads stop.

There are lots of companies who have tried over a long period of time now.

I’m open to the possibility. But, all of the companies that I can think of who have burnt cash on TV ads don’t seem to have much to show for it.

Remember the 2000 Superbowl ads like the ad above?  Yes, they were creative and in some cases funny, but did they achieve anything apart from exposing the people who foolishly paid millions of dollars and then watched it go up in smoke in 30 seconds?

The most obvious example in NZ is Ferrit – we’ve been bombarded with their terrible ads for the last couple of years, and where has it got them?

To quote Ian Morris (yes, that’s right, Tex Pistol!), who has an entire web site devoted to stupid ads:

“I have no idea who these ads are aimed at. Certainly can’t be me, or my children, or any of my friends, colleagues, acquaintances, relatives, football team members, or any of their children, or their pets. I have yet to find anyone who finds these ads – and Mr Stupid Pants and Tank-top – anything other than awfully, cloyingly annoying.”

On the other hand, there are lots of companies who have taken a more organic approach to growth, who seem much better off for it – for example, Lance posted about Torpedo7 last week.  

So, please, don’t waste your money on TV ads that probably won’t work.

Invest in a website that people love to use, and make sure you give people a reason to keep coming back.

Get those things right and you’ll be able to afford TV ads, but won’t need them!

6 thoughts on “TVCs”

  1. I suspect Suzanne Paul is the only person in nz who proved television ads worked. but that was in pre web days

    i would have thought there were cheaper more targeted ways to promote your band in this day and age. TV ads is like thrown a whole lot of crap against a wall and hoping something will stick

  2. I tend to agree although I remember seeing an article a year or so back which surprised me by attributing something like 50% of all searches in Google (NZ) to a TVC as in: punter sees TVC > whips into Google (ignoring site URLs advertised).

    I didn’t pay much attention at the time, and have never been able to find that article since, or those stats. Maybe they are a figment of my imagination – probably. If not – then it is quite a biggie. Even still, that would only be about ‘driving people to the starting line’ – so hardly the be-all.

    Still amazes me how few NZ businesses in general invest in any kind of post-click marketing in any case.

    Anyone else remember that article or those stats?

  3. Funnily enough Monster and that ad were pretty successful. And as I’m sure you’re aware advertise quite a bit on TV and are still spanking the pants off of Trademe Jobs who’ve yet to understand the difference between a job ad and an ad for real estate or goods. Although I’d agree that it’s probably a bit of the exception to the rule overall.

  4. Good point about Seek.

    They advertise a lot, in a number of different places – from the back of buses to billboards on the side of the field at the rugby and cricket. They also spend a lot on TV.

    I’d be interested to know what the impact of all of this is on their bottom line – i.e. are they making more money than Trade Me Jobs?

    I also think that you’re right about the comparison – they focus on doing one thing, and do it well.

    See: Showing the difference between a 19″ and a 22″ suitcase from 37signals blog

    So, the question is: do they win because they do lots of advertising or do they win because they have a better product?

  5. There are two questions there: Are they making more money than TM Jobs? I don’t know but I doubt their profitability is as high as TM. TM is probably pretty profitable since it was a simple add on to the original TM and doesn’t have much (any?) advertising budget.

    The second question on whether Seek win because they do lots of advertising or because they have a better product is pretty obvious. The Seek product is nothing special and the barrier to entry for other job boards with better features is very low, however Seek stays no. 1 thanks to the advertising. Features just aren’t that important to job hunters because generally they want to be in a job not looking for one all the time. For employers they want coverage and a pool to choose from, Seek’s popularity helps cover that for them. So I think the online job board industry might be the very exception to the rule you’re talking about here in that advertising is critical to success rather than product.

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