Spots or Impressions – What's Good for Ad-Campaign?

3594607The age-old question that has bugged advertisers – should we go with Spots or Impressions?

What makes more business sense – Spots or Impressions?

What is easier to explain – Spots or Impressions?

The challenge has always been about finding the most efficient form of ad-spend but it’s never as simple as that.

There are certain aspects of advertising that make it very difficult to think purely in terms Returns on Ad Spend – which is why choosing between Spots and Impressions is slightly more complicated than just choosing what is better.

Change is Difficult

One of the factors that makes the decision difficult is the fact that you have to evolve and learn a new format for doing what you’ve been doing for years!

It’s not just about spots and impressions – you can see this phenomena in various aspects of life.

People who’ve been driving stick-shift, find it hard to switch to automatic.

Those who loved old phones had trouble switching to smart phones and, more recently, people who commuted to offices for work have had trouble adjusting to a Work-from-Home setup.

So, it’s natural that for someone to change their age-old process of spot-based advertising, the decision to change to Impression-based ads has to be based on something that’s significant enough to compel them to switch.

That’s where the concept of ‘Trust’ comes in.

Marketers constantly talk about the importance of trust when it comes to buying products or services – and simply stating that “A is better” will not make people switch over to ‘A’.

There has to be compelling evidence that supports the switch to A.

The lack of evidence or the inability to provide it in a coherent, meaningful manner is what prevents people from realizing the benefits of one method over another.

Making the Case for Spots

The one thing that works heavily in favour of spots is that it is measurable!

If someone says that your ad ran for 20-spots over 3-days, you can measure it by sitting in front of that screen for 3-days and watching your ad-plays.

If you’re a little less insane about measuring ad-plays, you could get a report the channel- or screen-owner provides and use that as evidence.

There is a level of trust associated with this report because the channel or screen-owner cannot deceive you with a fake report.

They cannot simply say that the ad ran on 3rd October at 4:15pm, because the advertiser might have been tuned in or on location at that very moment – waiting to see their ad.

And that makes Spot-based advertising trustworthy – it’s low-tech and can be easily verified.

The Case for Impressions

Spots use the 'Build it and they will come' approach, which does not work in today's world!

The challenge is a bit more complex here because it isn’t a lack of evidence that makes impression-based ads harder to trust, but a case of being able to understand the evidence itself.

Wavy_Bus-02_Single-04Telling someone that “impressions are measured by taking data from multiple data points like GPS, Mobile App data, cell tower triangulation, Google Maps data, Wi-Fi signal data, etc.” is one thing – making a case for why that is better is a whole different ballgame.

Think of it this way – if your mechanic were to tell you that your car’s planet gears weren’t walking cleanly around the sun gear, which meant that the output shaft wasn’t turning the same way as the input shaft at the right speed for gear reduction, you may not know whether it’s the car they’re talking about or astronomy.

Which is why they’re more likely to simplify things and tell you that there’s a problem in the Transmission.

You’ve heard the word transmission before, even if you have little or no idea of what it does, and so you use that familiarity to trust what that mechanic’s telling you and end up overpaying to get your car repaired.

It’s the same with Impressions – we all use Google Maps, Facebook, Instagram, make calls and send messages from our cellular phone – however, the moment you hear APIs or JSON files, your mind switches off.

It is very simple human behaviour – our mind cannot begin to trust what it does not comprehend – that’s nature’s survival training kicking in.

And that is why we (to a certain extent) trust Google or Facebook when they tell us their ad-impression range, but everyone else has to bare their soul to show the workings before their metrics can be trusted.

Switching from Spots to Impressions

Like anything, choosing to make the switch from spot-based ad-buys to Impression-based ad-buys is based on proving ‘value’.

It’s one thing to say that an impression was delivered – it is another to show that it was.

With digital marketing – the only channel where impression-based ad-buying is the norm – there are many ways to demonstrate “Landed Impressions.”

Outdoor has made those advancements but it is now just a case of getting the time to show that the impressions are being delivered.

The only thing left now is for advertisers to review the evidence and come to the conclusion that it is in fact as accurate as digital advertising – search, social and Internet.


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