Paid media (advertising) in Public Affairs

November 23, 2012

Although it can be extremely effective at driving traffic and raising awareness of one’s activity, we often scoff at advertising in Public Affairs, usually for one of more of these reasons:

  • We know our audiences so why advertise?
  • Advertising is not targeted enough
  • Advertising is too expensive and we can’t control what we spend
  • Advertising can sell detergent but our clever audiences would never fall for advertising

Each is tosh:

  • We hardly ever know everyone in our target audience anymore:  as the scope of Public Affairs becomes increasingly broad, so does the set of people we need to reach and convince.
  • As uncomfortable as it may make some people, advertising can be very targeted. In particular, online advertising, which allows one to target via variables such as where people live or what sector they work in, as long as they themselves have provided the information (e.g. Facebook or LinkedIn ads) or what they look up online (e.g. Google AdWords).
  • No, it’s not necessarily expensive. Many people’s advertising paradigm is TV, which obviously is very expensive. But delivering a thousand clicks to a website via a social network can be dirt cheap. And you need only pay per click and can cap spending.
  • “Our clever audiences never fall for advertising.” Again, this is the TV paradigm. In online advertising, as well as much offline advertising, you’re not trying to drip-feed your brand to unknowing consumers who will soon worship it: you’re only trying to drive someone somewhere else, where yes, perhaps you may try to convince them of something or other.
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2 Responses to “Paid media (advertising) in Public Affairs”

  1. Ron Says:

    I’d say that most people feel disturbed by online ads as most of them are either made to interrupt the user experience or can be ignored right away. Unless there are new formats found, I’m not really convinced that this will move things forward.


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