Element 14 in Ogilvy’s direct response ad is one every print advertising guru knew back in the day. It was about ad placement in magazines and newspapers. Is it relevant in the digital space? You bet.
I guess in the 1970s not that many people knew this stuff, but I was advertising regularly in magazines from the mid 1980s on, and everyone who was anyone knew all about ad placement and costs by then.
Unfortunately, so did the ad executives. If you wanted a back page slot, it cost serious money (Ogilvy claimed he got 150% better ROI on back pages, so it was obviously worth it to him).
In the 2000s I paid for a 4 page supplement as well as a back page banner to promote Accountz software in The Independent (a national newspaper in the UK). It failed.
The reason had nothing to do with the placement (no one is going to miss seeing a supplement – especially with a back page banner pointing out its virtues). The copy was OK too (it had worked fine up to this point).
The problem was the market. The cloud had just taken off and our software didn’t work in it (like advertising ice making machines to the Inuit or muscle cars to climate change activists).
Later we created a hybrid version of the software (a kind of “keep it in the cloud and on your desktop – total control” approach) but it was too late no matter how we tried to reposition it.
So what would Ogilvy advise today? The same thing – with one caveat. There are no longer front or back pages (let alone supplements) when it comes to the internet. Everything is a single page.
When people (especially those in SEO) talk about landing pages as though they are something special, they’re not exactly being honest.
Every page on the internet is a landing page if someone lands on it. That makes every page the same. It either gets traffic or it doesn’t. And if it does, then the relevance of the traffic is all that matters.
The best way to make it relevant is to place ads on other landing pages that point to our landing page. If the ad is relevant to our landing page, then anyone clicking on it (other than trolls) will be relevant too.
Where would you place these ads? They go on relevant pages too. That is, pages we believe are relevant to our audience. How would we know that? By finding out what our audience is interested in.
You can see how an ad placed in The Independent was so wrong in concept from beginning to end when you look at things this way. The Independent, like all national newspapers, will have its core audience demographic.
But will that demographic be predominantly interested in, say, accounting software? No. We might get more bang for our buck in the Financial Times, but even so, most readers won’t be looking for accounting software (they’ll most likely be looking for experienced accountants to save them even more tax – if they’re looking at all).
But the internet? Now we’re talking. If we can find a group of people relevant to us who have diverse interests, and we combine those interests together in our search for perfect pages to place our ads, we can beat our competitors (contact page owners directly).
And we can go a step further by targeting people with those diverse interests on high traffic sites like Facebook (so we no longer care about targeting specific landing pages, we just focus on the audience).
Ogilvy would have loved today’s world. It’s the biggest opportunity of a lifetime.
Continue with part 15 below (or hook up to the https://ScienceofCopywriting.com weekly newsletter and enjoy every episode in the comfort of your armchair every Sunday).