Are You Making A Gross Impression?

The ad industry is obsessed with impressions – and it makes no sense.

As consumers, we’re bombarded with commercials, billboards and pop-up ads. And every exposure counts as an impression…even if you ignored it. If a logo grazes your brain, it’s tallied.

So, companies are buying awareness, when engagement is the goal.

Mobile impressions are all the rage. And they’re credited when one, single pixel becomes visible on screen. That ad impression is registered faster than you can click away.

At sporting events, companies spend millions on stadium signs that are immediately forgotten. At NASCAR races, someone counts the nanoseconds of blurred TV exposure that track side logos received.  Even worse are radio stations that get ratings credit if you enter a store that’s playing their station. Sorry, hearing the radio isn’t the same as listening to it.

Still, advertisers pay for those gross impressions.

Here’s my take. Gross impressions are bullshit meaningless.

Last Sunday, 100 Super Bowl commercials aired, generating billions of impressions. But did their message stick? Did the ad change your mind? I loved Bill Murray’s reprisal of Groundhog Day. But I’m not buying a Jeep.

Now comes programmatic (automated) ad buying, which will only make things worse. Data-driven campaigns miss the human element – and the most important factors that influence a purchase: personal recommendations and reviews.

Engagement should be their focus. Not efficient media plans that look efficient on paper, but are doomed to fail.

The litmus test is: Did the message capture your attention – and reverberate? Did the word spread like ripples in a pond? Or did it sink like a stone?

Did it inspire you to share it?

Didn’t think so.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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