Billboards vs Social Media Advertising
With Mauritius recovering from the worst cyclone in several decades I couldn’t help but notice the silver lining in the eerie aftermath. Despite the heavy rainfall, huge fallen trees and various other signs of damage there was a natural beauty of our island shining through the landscape. Where huge billboards once stood advertising the latest campaign of brand X the empty billboard instead framed the wonderful scenery of Mauritius.
As someone who constantly studies ways to improve and generate traffic online I couldn’t help but wonder why companies continue to invest so heavily in outdoor advertising when it has become so sub-par to digital marketing campaigns.
-High Traffic Areas; billboards are always placed in places with a lot of traffic, however are these people really paying attention to the advert, have a look at anyone in a vehicle and I guarantee you they will be looking at their phone rather than outside the window. Drivers on the other hand are busy focusing on the road than xyz billboard. The only real billboards I understand are from brands like Samsung or Coca-cola who use billboards to maintain their image and dominance over the market.
-Commitment; to place a billboard you often need to sign a contract of at least a month, and usually several months at a time if you want a prime area. With trends, fashion and topical content changing so often its challenging to stay current and interesting to your audience in such a one dimensional medium that requires such a heavy investment.
-Lack of Data; despite not being able to engage with your audience there is no way of measuring the impact of your marketing budget, spending money on a billboard is like blowing into the wind hoping that it will get you sales downstream, to add insult to injury most companies use poor copywriting or worse add social media buttons and links as if the first thing you will do when finishing your journey will be remember the URL and hunt the link down.
–Pay as you go; Whether you choose Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing your marketing budget is safe knowing that you spend only for the customers who have viewed or engaged with your campaign. This direct analytics allows you to not only test variations of your campaign through A/B testing but also allows you to rapidly test an unlimited amount of strategies with your only limit being your creativity. As soon as something sticks and brings in customers you double down.
-Custom advertising; The online world is entirely customer focused, the whole customer journey is focused on giving us what we are looking for, the digital advertising world is no different. All the adds we receive are entirely due to the interests we have shown during our time online. With tools like facebook pixels companies can pinpoint with lazer accuracy customers who are at different stages of their sales funnel and serve them with relevant adds. For example, shopping on an ecommerce website and didnt checkout after adding a product to your cart? 20% gift voucher add served 5 days later. Customer who was previously on the fence about a product views the add and gets reminded about it and decides to finish the purchase.
-Engagement; Companies now have methods to communicate with their audience, understand their wants and needs, what drives them to choose their product and service. This two way communication has become addictive with a lot of shoppers refusing to buy without social proof of good reviews, customer and after sales service. Companies who invest in these channels often see far greater return as we get tired of being blasted with adverts and care more about what we like.
A lot of countries have banned outdoor advertising such as Sao Paulo, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine and Alaska. Each of these places are famous for their natural beauty. For a country that has such a beautiful landscape perhaps we should follow suite to ban outdoor advertising or at least reduce the visual pollution around our island.
We live in a world of permission marketing where we only want to engage and see content that is related to our interests.
Tourism is still one of the largest industries in Mauritius and we should be taking measures to protect it, rather than focus on short term gain.
Imagine the actual cost of one or two billboards for a month (Lets say a conservative guess of Rs 150,000) was put into a social media or search engine marketing campaign and you would have enough ammunition to absolutely dominate that topic or industry for a year!
You would be able to not only track every customer but find leaks in your sales funnel, develop an email list, create a custom audience you can retarget for peanuts later through facebook pixel, test your audience, understand what are their buying conditions and even track Click Through Rates!