Can Advertising be Measured?

A common query raised by micro-businesses owners is whether advertising can be measured or not and, if it can, how to do it. But before answering these questions you need to ask a different one first; “is my advertising measurable?” The answer to this is ‘sometimes’.

It depends on the type of advertising you do and what the point of it is. There are four broad types of advertising; Infrastructure, Reactive, Proactive and Awareness. These are explored further in Types of Advertising.

The main question to ask is; “what’s the point of the activity?” If the purpose is to generate a response, e.g. get a prospect or customer to do something, then it’s measurable. If it’s to create awareness rather than create an immediate action from a prospective customer, then measurement is difficult. Not impossible, but it is harder.

Proactive Advertising

Proactive advertising should always be measurable. It won’t always be easy, but it’s usually possible to find a way. Proactive advertising is like a tap – it can be switched on and off as required. If business is slow, you can increase the amount you do but if you’re operating at near capacity or you want a holiday, you can slow down the volume of new leads received until you’re in a better position to deal with them. A measurement system will allow you to analyse and track how effective the proactive advertising is, allowing you to control the tap.

Reactive Advertising

Reactive advertising can also usually be measured. You should be able to track how people found your phone number or email address by asking them. Your website analytics will tell you how visitors found your site, providing you’ve incorporated a suitable website measurement system such as Google Analytics into the site. If the company who host your website can’t do this for you, change provider.

When you’re setting your budget for the next year or quarter, you’ll know which Reactive sources are worthy of future expenditure.

Remember though that you can’t control the tap. Business from Reactive advertising can happen at any time. You might be able to use measurements to track patterns, but once committed to, it can’t usually be changed.

Infrastructure and Awareness Advertising

Infrastructure and awareness advertising are difficult to measure because they don’t always generate a specific response, so you can’t track what people do as a result of seeing them.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t do this kind of activity – sometimes the exact opposite is true. Awareness and brand building activity can often increase the responses you get from both Proactive and Reactive activities.

Awareness advertising increases the chances of your company making it on to a prospective customer’s ‘consideration list’. So when they’re next looking to purchase, they’ll consider you because they’ve heard of you.

As it’s more difficult to measure the impact of infrastructure and awareness advertising, see Measuring Awareness Advertising for tips on how to do it effectively. It’s not impossible, you just need to know what to measure.