One of the questions I’m asked repeatedly by home improvement companies is an interesting one. “Should I buy advertising on the website of my local newspaper or TV station?”
I get this question so often because when my clients are making their offline media buys from local TV, radio or newspaper outlets, sales reps are constantly trying to sell them extra banner ad space, or “sweetening” the deal by throwing in free impressions on their website. So is there real value for home improvement companies in advertising on these sites?
We did just explain why random websites are a poor place to generate home improvement leads. I’ve talked about why banner ads are ineffective before But for some reason, these web sites may not feel so random because you’re already buying TV spots or space ads from these same people. Shouldn’t there be some connection between your offline advertising and the traffic that goes to that media source’s website?
The answer is no – or at least, not really. Sure’ you’ll get an occasional homeowner who will read an ad in the newspaper, then go to the paper’s website. But it’s not a natural progression for the homeowner. Same with a TV commercial or a radio spot. Occasionally someone will stumble on your banner ad after seeing the offline advertising, but the media provider’s web site is generally not a productive placement.
“Reading the latest news reminds me that I need to remodel the bathroom” – no one will ever say that.
Media sales reps make advertising online with them sound like a great idea. But with newspapers there is an ulterior motive – print ad revenue is dropping, while digital revenue is increasing. They have good reasons to encourage you to embrace online advertising, because for them, that’s where the money is.
Don’t be fooled. Often these sorts of advertising packages don’t include tracking data on how many views, hits or calls you get, which in turn means you’re unable to track how many leads you get. When tracking is available it’s generally for an extra fee – a fee that probably scuttles the value of any leads you’d end up generating.
In case I haven’t discouraged you enough yet, let’s take a closer look at how news sites run their ad campaigns. This Pew study of 22 news sites had a bunch of interesting finds, the most alarming of which is that only three sites targeted their ads. That means someone who’s been searching for home improvement ideas is as likely to view your ad as someone who’s been searching for collectible porcelain baby figurines. Unless the latter is looking to convert the guest bedroom into a display room, odds are they’re not clicking on your banners.
And unlike car companies, your main goal is generating leads, not generating brand awareness.
Most online media readers generally don’t click on ads, and those that might aren’t being specifically targeted. Throw in the fact that most readers only spend up to five minutes on a site reading a couple of top stories, and the odds of having your banners be worth the money are even slimmer.
So the next time an offline media sales person tries to pitch you on the benefits of their online presence, think twice. There are better ways for you to generate home improvement leads.