Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Online advertising: Looking beyond the obvious

Today’s post is about an element of online advertising, which gets very little attention. I’m referring to the longer term impact of a successful advertisement.


Mercedes and the longer game

I recall Seth Godin talking about the way Mercedes look at advertising.

Mercedes’ head of advertising said that if he focused on showing people advertisements for Mercedes the day before they were about to buy a new car, it wouldn’t work. Instead, Mercedes focus on getting their advertisements in front of us when we are children – so that when we’re 35 and looking for a luxury car, we buy a Mercedes.

Understandably, that’s a longer term approach than most small business owners are interested in. I mention it, because it highlights an element of online advertising that is often overlooked. I’m referring to the lifetime value of an ad and the need to look beyond the obvious, immediate, trackable results.

People are still hard to track

When we decide to advertise, we need to look beyond the obvious and beyond the short term. Yes, there are some people who only use one device, only use one Internet connection and have cookies enabled on their one device. However, most of us use multiple devices and multiple ip addresses (connections) to connect.

For instance, I use half a dozen different connected devices and access the Internet from lots of locations, such as; home, work, coffee shops, hotels and my phone provider’s data connection, etc. If I were to access your site via an advertising link, using my phone from a coffee shop’s wifi connection, I will not show up as coming from that ad a week or a month later, when I Google you from home using my notebook. I will just show as a new visitor, accessing your site with a new device from a new IP address for the first time.

Beyond the obvious

If online advertising is part of your marketing mix, don’t make the mistake of only looking at the immediate, obvious metrics. Look for an increase in sales and inquiries, related to the advertised offering. Look for an overall lift in visitors to your site. Oh, and never miss the opportunity to ask a new customer or client, where they first discovered you. The trackable metrics matter. In fact, they are essential, but they are not everything.

It will become possible at some point for all online advertisers to trace people across multiple ip addresses and multiple devices. Until then, I believe it pays us to look beyond the obvious.

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  1. Previous business, couldn’t account for half the advertising spend in cold hard metrics. But when you had people sign up to the service “because you’re a proper business, I’ve seen you advertise in the paper and heard you on the radio”, you realise how much extra credibility you’ve got from the marketing spread & the adverts you could never justify on paper. No reason for this to not apply to the online world!

    • Hi Nick and welcome to the blog.

      You make a good point. Not every benefit of an online advertisement can be counted in clicks. Things will become a lot clearer, as people surrender more and more of their anonymity by connecting their ID’s across their devices. Google’s Android is pushing this model now. When you sign into any of your android devices, Google knows it’s you – regardless of where you are or which of your android devices you’re using.

      Thanks for the feedback, sir.

  2. Dear jim,
    Really an interesting blog. But I would like to add some points as
    1. Choosing the right advertisement median for the product/service is more important. Because there are more than 1246 radio station more than 1500 Television channels and more than 500 different newspapers in all over the world
    2. Advertisement is an important marketing channel but if any mistake by the company can make a big lose. As more than £1350 every min advertisement charged for showing the add.

    3. For Internet advertisement click and brick may also cause a huge charged as per by the new rules set by google to maintain the SCO and traffic in the add

  3. Do you think you will be able to ever track everyone in the one place?

    That would be awesome.. but I’m not sure I can see that kind of centralization ever happening.


    • Hi Geoff. Tracking is already very advanced. Google already knows the exact location of most android users.

      It will happen, because people seem to be either ignorant that they are being tracked or are happy to be tracked.

      Not sure it’s a good thing.

      Pretty sure it isn’t.

  4. Keeping track of every one is not possible, but however the ad’s may reach upto 50% of the people in the crowd. So Advertising is another area where we will see a boom in the forth coming years.

  5. Dear Jim,

    This is a very good point. I know from personal experience that people do notice things in one location and go back from another site. I do this all the time with videos – I read an email on my phone and then wait until I get home to watch the video.

    I’d also like to add that you also don’t want to count just a single ad’s impact. I use Facebook regularly to market (for free) by creating fun, inspiring, educational photo slides with descriptions that bring people back to my site. I brand the slides with a common title theme (Strong Woman Syndrome – Symptom #4,5,6 or Divining The Feminine) and then make sure each slide uses a common font combination and has my website on the slide. That combination of things, gets people to notice more over time. It’s the repetition concept – something that we did regularly in offline marketing, but seems to have lost its appeal online.

    Sometimes people come to me having no idea how they first heard of me, just that they have seen me “everywhere”.

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