When Will the Volume Game Turn Down?

airport ads Note: This is a bit self-serving, as I run a series of conferences, and as I’m pitching social media marketing as my business.

I’m reading this article in Advertising Age about marketing opportunities in the JetBlue Terminal 5 at JFK, and I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, as a frequent flyer, I like that I can recharge my phone and laptop courtesy of Samsung. I think the Best Buy and Apple branding on those vending machines for electronics is brilliant. I love when someone sponsors wifi in a terminal. I get that.

But as a return on investment, how’s that working out for you? (Please – if you’re still buying static media like that, can you chime in? I’m not being ass, exactly.) Are you getting “I saw your billboard at Logan” types of responses? How CAN it?

I get that it’s a lot of eyeballs going through there, but does it convert?

Please: someone educate me

Wouldn’t Human Contact Do Better?

I ask this as someone who spends every day connecting with people online, offline, and in between. I say this as someone who believes the future of business is in engineering cafe-shaped conversations. I say this as someone who appreciates the personal touch on the other side of my marketing experiences as a consumer.

How much does one of those opportunities cost? It can’t be cheap to put up a billboard in an airport, right? That same amount would fund a social media project for an entire year, and you’d have clickable metrics for the effort. Wouldn’t that be a better return?

See how this post is more about questions? I want your feedback. Share this with your marketer friends, too. I’d love to know what the mindset is.

Is this just about volume? Millions of people walk through here kind of stuff? Does that still matter? Seriously, I’m asking.

Educate my dumb old self, okay?
Photo credit cote

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • http://www.doctorious.org Matthew Gilbert

    @peter The irony is that advertising is now emulating the “Ugly American” in a foreign country where he doesn’t speak the language and whose response to nobody understanding him is to yell loudly. And, of course, that never works. But listening does. Imagine that?!

    Matthew Gilbert
    doctorious.org
    @doctorious

  • http://www.sethgoldstein.net Seth Goldstein

    Chris,

    I do agree that for most people traditional forms of advertising don’t work anymore, but for the average consumer, I think that seeing that new cool phone on a billboard does make them think of your product. If they think about your product enough they might just buy it. That being said, could the money be better spent in another way? Yes, totally. Social media is the wave of the future but some companies just don’t get it or don’t want to get it.

    -Seth

  • http://sarahmontague.wordpress.com Sarah Montague

    In this mega fragemented media world I don’t think silver bullets exists. Which means you may need to try different elements that are well orchestrated and integrated. There is room for offline and online but all the pieces should be strategic and smart. Key is contextual relevance and the creative needs to be smart. Where are your customers? When might they be thinking about your product or a related product? Zappos airport security shoe bin worked so elegantly because of this relevance.

  • http://sarahmontague.wordpress.com Sarah Montague

    In this mega fragemented media world I don’t think silver bullets exists. Which means you may need to try different elements that are well orchestrated and integrated. There is room for offline and online but all the pieces should be strategic and smart. Key is contextual relevance and the creative needs to be smart. Where are your customers? When might they be thinking about your product or a related product? Zappos airport security shoe bin worked so elegantly because of this relevance.

  • http://gregcryns.blogspot.com greg cryns

    For all those who are dissing traditional advertising, this reminds me a bit of the kids screaming “Microsoft sucks”.

  • http://gregcryns.blogspot.com greg cryns

    For all those who are dissing traditional advertising, this reminds me a bit of the kids screaming “Microsoft sucks”.

  • http://gregcryns.blogspot.com greg cryns

    It’s there because it works. Yes.

  • http://gregcryns.blogspot.com greg cryns

    It’s there because it works. Yes.

  • Anonymous

    @Matthew Gilbert :-) Glad you’re on board.. it was the Chuck E. Cheese tokens that sold me! I am being facetious, of course, but it does get you wondering if whatever network is broadcasting the 50th Super Bowl, if we would set up a page that took “Obama-esque” donations of $1000 each and raised $10million dollars and had 10,000 brands, would they take our money and string that together, read that off on a 6 minute ad and link to us all on a web page? I’ll bet they would and that would be very, very interesting. Would it be worth it to us?

    @Peter Yeah, I can see sponsoring urinals with PlainJoe Coffee. “Hey, if your pee doesn’t have that coffee smell, you should be buying PlainJoe! http://plainjoe.com ” yup, you’re seeing it in your mind too.. and it is at once funny and repulsive.. but, you’re thinking about clicking to the PlainJoe Web site now, ain’t ya? Yes, you are….

  • http://gerardmclean.com Gerard McLean

    @Matthew Gilbert :-) Glad you’re on board.. it was the Chuck E. Cheese tokens that sold me! I am being facetious, of course, but it does get you wondering if whatever network is broadcasting the 50th Super Bowl, if we would set up a page that took “Obama-esque” donations of $1000 each and raised $10million dollars and had 10,000 brands, would they take our money and string that together, read that off on a 6 minute ad and link to us all on a web page? I’ll bet they would and that would be very, very interesting. Would it be worth it to us?

    @Peter Yeah, I can see sponsoring urinals with PlainJoe Coffee. “Hey, if your pee doesn’t have that coffee smell, you should be buying PlainJoe! http://plainjoe.com ” yup, you’re seeing it in your mind too.. and it is at once funny and repulsive.. but, you’re thinking about clicking to the PlainJoe Web site now, ain’t ya? Yes, you are….

  • http://www.yarn.com kathy

    Three years ago, we had the opportunity to buy a traditional billboard on I-91 here in W. Mass. We took it and the response was beyond anything we would have expected. More people came off the highway, to our store, for the first time AND commented on seeing the billboard more than any other piece of media we had used to date. We lost the board after about 6 months – the company sold the location and the new company wasn’t as flexible with it’s pricing.

    We’ve been searching for another board off and on since. Company A contacted me 4 weeks ago. They now own the board again and offered a great deal. Our board will go up at the end of the month.

    For 2009, there is no question we have shifted dollars from traditional media to more on-line, more SM, more “conversational” mediums for connecting with our customers. At the same time, traditional advertising is still a factor for us and more importantly our customer.

    We may find that three years later, the impact of the board will not be nearly as great as it was in ’05/’06 – we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

    There’s no question in my mind that social media is critical to our future success and growth, but right now it’s a piece of the puzzle, not the entire answer.

  • http://www.yarn.com kathy

    Three years ago, we had the opportunity to buy a traditional billboard on I-91 here in W. Mass. We took it and the response was beyond anything we would have expected. More people came off the highway, to our store, for the first time AND commented on seeing the billboard more than any other piece of media we had used to date. We lost the board after about 6 months – the company sold the location and the new company wasn’t as flexible with it’s pricing.

    We’ve been searching for another board off and on since. Company A contacted me 4 weeks ago. They now own the board again and offered a great deal. Our board will go up at the end of the month.

    For 2009, there is no question we have shifted dollars from traditional media to more on-line, more SM, more “conversational” mediums for connecting with our customers. At the same time, traditional advertising is still a factor for us and more importantly our customer.

    We may find that three years later, the impact of the board will not be nearly as great as it was in ’05/’06 – we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

    There’s no question in my mind that social media is critical to our future success and growth, but right now it’s a piece of the puzzle, not the entire answer.

  • http://Bkiosk.com Jeff Scott

    Sponsoring is not direct marketing. There is no short term ROI. It involves brand recognition and benevolence, both long term investments. In the online world we expect immediate results but in the brick and mortar world I’m sure they are hoping that someday when a consumer has to make a choice between two vendors the buyer will remember the feeling back when they were given something for free and will then pay their dues. Think of it like social media marketing where the gift is an investment in relationships.

  • http://Bkiosk.com Jeff Scott

    Sponsoring is not direct marketing. There is no short term ROI. It involves brand recognition and benevolence, both long term investments. In the online world we expect immediate results but in the brick and mortar world I’m sure they are hoping that someday when a consumer has to make a choice between two vendors the buyer will remember the feeling back when they were given something for free and will then pay their dues. Think of it like social media marketing where the gift is an investment in relationships.

  • Kelley

    Here’s the thing: If your company is not advertising or sponsoring things like wifi in airports, bus stations, convention centers, etc, then some other company will be. And you want to be top of mind when a consumer discovers a need for something. Example: I am in the market for car insurance. I have always been on my parents policy, but now need to get my own. I immediatly thought of Geico. Why? Probably because I have seen at least 200 of their ads. I have seen TV advertisements, heard them on the radio, seen billboards, they have sponsored sports events and on and on. As a marketer who focuses solely on lead generation (as opposed to marcomm or PR), I understand the need to track ROI of campaigns. However, I also understand the need to have your brand top of mind in consumers’ heads – which may have to be accomplished with such methods as billboards, ads on the sides of NYC busses or on the tray tables of airplane seats. Do you agree?

  • Kelley

    Here’s the thing: If your company is not advertising or sponsoring things like wifi in airports, bus stations, convention centers, etc, then some other company will be. And you want to be top of mind when a consumer discovers a need for something. Example: I am in the market for car insurance. I have always been on my parents policy, but now need to get my own. I immediatly thought of Geico. Why? Probably because I have seen at least 200 of their ads. I have seen TV advertisements, heard them on the radio, seen billboards, they have sponsored sports events and on and on. As a marketer who focuses solely on lead generation (as opposed to marcomm or PR), I understand the need to track ROI of campaigns. However, I also understand the need to have your brand top of mind in consumers’ heads – which may have to be accomplished with such methods as billboards, ads on the sides of NYC busses or on the tray tables of airplane seats. Do you agree?

  • http://2505studios.com Tk Ogun

    I agree with Michelle Kostya traditional advertising works over time and is used to reinforce the message of the brand. It’s hard to measure it’s effectiveness, but it does work. I may not buy something from Samsung immediately because of the charging station, but it does have an impression on me.
    Tk Ogun
    2505 Studios.com

  • http://2505studios.com Tk Ogun

    I agree with Michelle Kostya traditional advertising works over time and is used to reinforce the message of the brand. It’s hard to measure it’s effectiveness, but it does work. I may not buy something from Samsung immediately because of the charging station, but it does have an impression on me.
    Tk Ogun
    2505 Studios.com

  • Rownaldo

    Heads up, don’t be a victim of identiy theft – Panda Internet Security 2009 is selling for $20 when it usually sells for $80. It will protect you from over 2 million viruses, spyware and rootkits and has a web filter for the kids. This deal is only good until December 31st

    http://www.tinyurl.com/a3cyw6

  • Rownaldo

    Heads up, don’t be a victim of identiy theft – Panda Internet Security 2009 is selling for $20 when it usually sells for $80. It will protect you from over 2 million viruses, spyware and rootkits and has a web filter for the kids. This deal is only good until December 31st

    http://www.tinyurl.com/a3cyw6

  • http://www.yuregininsesi.com sesli chat

    Sponsoring is not direct marketing. There is no short term ROI. It involves brand recognition and benevolence, both long term investments. In the online world we expect immediate results but in the brick and mortar world I'm sure they are hoping that someday when a consumer has to make a choice between two vendors the buyer will remember the feeling back when they were given something for free and will then pay their dues. Think of it like social media marketing where the gift is an investment in relationships.

  • http://almost60really.com Paula Lee Bright

    Seeing Apple in so many places reinforces my belief that it’s valued by many “in the know,” and that it’s a household trusted name as a provider of quality.

    If we didn’t see so many Apples in movies and the Apple logo in [an airport] it might drift from our minds, and not be there when we finally need a computer replacerd.

    But hey. I’m a novice to this. That’s just my immediate response.

    Now I’ll go below and see what the REAL people think! ;)