A Look at Physical versus Digital Advertisement, Part 1

Real Estate Advertising Techniques

When preparing for a career in the world of real estate, one must know what strategies one should use to maximize one’s exposure to consumers. The field of advertising in 2017 gives enough options (both physical and digital) for reaching a customer that it might intimidate those who don’t have a firm knowledge of the subject. It’s something about which even the professionals don’t fully agree.

But does the “newer” option always mean that it’s better than the older one? Does being a real estate professional mean using the most current piece of tech to get business? What about the “old tricks” used by previous generations of realtors and brokers? Which approach is right for the incoming real estate professional?

As GREEN wants to provide its readers with as much information as possible on real estate subjects, this blog will be the first in a multi-part series that explores the promotional options available. Readers should remember that not all of the options for advertising will be discussed. Instead, the options included in this particular blog series are meant to provide an introduction that may allow for more in-depth coverage of the other options.


Physical Advertising

Real Estate Advertising Techniques

The older of the two options, physical advertising should be understood to be any media that is tangible. Banners, posters, business cards, billboards, flyers, For Sale signs, in-print advertising, and any promotional media not displayed through a screen are all still seen in today’s world of instant contact. Much as the copy of a daily newspaper or weekly magazine are still consumed by readers, physical advertisement still attracts the attention of the needed demographics for those selling goods and services. Though they all possess their own character, they ultimately do the same thing for a real estate professional.


In a piece for Neuroscience Marketing, Roger Dooley, a marketing consultant and author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing, tells the story of a study conducted by Temple University for the U.S. Post Office involving neuroscience research to show how both paper and digital advertisements influence the brain. Showing both physical and digital ads to test subjects, the study found that paper ads engaged viewers for more time, that subjects showed greater emotional response and memory for physical media ads a week later, and that physical ads caused more activity in brain areas associated with value and desire.


The blog also makes the distinction that the study was conducted using a large monitor screen, and not smartphones and tablets that allow for mobile consumption of media, which itself present a different consumer experience as the screen is smaller, the device is on a different type of internet connection, and touchscreen devices may allow for physical interaction between the user and the media.


In a similar article for Forbes, Dooley also addressed other studies that “made the case” for tangible promotions over electronic, such as with the 2009 Bangor University study that analyzed the stronger emotional impact physical materials have as they “engage spatial memory networks” and “involve more emotional processing”/ more “internalization” of what was being shown.


Business Cards

Statistic Brain has some data sets that present a case for the quintessential ad for every business person. From data compiled through Statistic Brain Research Institute, CNN, BusinesscardABC, and Freelance Folder, it states that the Annual US business card printing industry revenue is $798,600,000, the number of business cards printed daily is 27,397,260, and for every 2,000 business cards passed out, there’s a 2.5% increase in company sales.
It should be noted that that same website link offered that 88% of business cards will be thrown out in less than a week and that only 9% of people who throw cards away do so because they’ve electronically saved the information.


So, business cards can be effective if the one handing the card has a strong sales pitch, if they’re given out selectively at times of exchange, or if they’re used in a large enough volume.


Actual Ads

What is held as a weakening of print media’s readership may be more of a presumption than an actual truth.


For physical issues of a publication, print can still deliver an audience. The American Marketing Association notes the uncontested diminished audiences for print publications, but says that the “top-of-funnel medium” has reduced who is reading it to only the most avid readers, and that their “(nearly) undivided attention” to a magazine is due to the fact that they are not given the capacity of performing multiple tasks that is allowed with an electronic device. Those “reading for pleasure” with a purchased magazine as opposed to “skimming” through content might be taking more time to pay attention to advertisements without distraction from the moving sights and sounds found in internet content.


“How” and “where” the physical advertisement is displayed could also determine the effectiveness of the promotion. One wanting to buy an ad in a local publication will likely find that the more page space they’re looking to advertise in, the higher the cost.


Business Insider offers a list of 15 recommended places it deems “weirdly effective” that include: bathroom stalls, donated promotional items, and even spaces near trees if someone is wanting to “stand out from the noise” of competing businesses.


Digital Advertising

For this article, “digital advertising” should be defined as “any promotional materials found via the internet” which include anything seen through a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Though they all might have digital transmission, radio, television, and electronic billboards, the synonymous character of digital advertising with the term “internet marketing” means that the key factor in deciding what the term means is “whether or not the consumer needs internet access to see the advertisement.”

It is clear that in the mobile-integrated world, not everyone prefers paper. For a business blog on his website Affordable Web Design, web designer and marketer H. Lewis Yildirimturk offers five reasons why digital ads are better than physical. Though initial read of his blog post might have some accusing him of being biased, Yildirimturk’s five bullet points on the subject make for an honest look at why digital promotion is so appealing. Being able to track the success rate of a campaign is possible either way, but is more easily done if you can keep track of the number of people who get exposed to your marketing materials. The running tally of these metrics may be instantly updated.


Digital advertising also allows for a more “targeted” approach that trades the “buckshot coverage” of many types of physical advertising for a way that may be directed toward specific demographics, areas, and interests.


Website Ads

Inbound Marketing and Sales Software company Hubspot shared through their blog both “the problems” and “the solutions” with digital advertisements seen on websites. In the article 20 Display Advertising Stats That Demonstrate Digital Advertising’s Evolution,” blogger Carly Stec shares ten statistics that create the narrative of ineffective display advertising that include the average clickthrough rate of display ads being 0.06%, that there are more than 198 million people actively using “ad block” software across the globe, and that more than half of a surveyed group of internet users don’t click banner ads because they don’t trust them. Readers would also benefit to learn that the cited “98% of advertisers are wasting money on ads” statistic is an informal survey conducted by a writer for landing page creator Unbounce.com contributor regarding issues with “landing pages” for ads, unlike the other sourced data.


Stec states that the problem with digital advertising isn’t the effectiveness of the medium per se, but the capability of the one wanting to use the advertisement. Her blog article discusses the idea of “native advertising” which makes the ad feel like it is part of the content being consumed by the reader. Tools like Google Adwords may appear to be part of the content, and because they’re perceived to “fit” into what’s being seen on the website, they’re considered “more organic” by the consumer. Stec states that this kind of advertising may include text, visual, and audio messages designed to reach a reader, and “book-ends” the piece to show the power of “digital ads done right.”


Social Media Advertising

Forbes contributor Davia Temin picks up Stec’s thread about low effectiveness of banner ads (as measured by how many people “click through” an article) for social media, and how the native reconfiguration of advertising is more effective for boosting those rates.


Temin also outlines a Duke University survey that points to a projected positive trend in the amount of money spent on advertising through social media in coming years, and that the utility of social media as a means to “build a brand” may be more useful than directly measuring it in terms of immediate benefit. Her article states a preference for “the creative approach” to long-term purchasing for goods and services that should be seen as the solution to low engagement.

Of course, the performance rates for ads will vary depending on the specific social media channel being used. PC World  offers a dissection of some of the effectiveness of each platform’s reach, and what it means for people using them.


The Summary…

Through both of his articles, Dooley makes the case “for a multichannel approach that leverages the unique benefits of paper with the convenience and accessibility of digital will perform best.” As media continues to change to mirror consumer interests, more data will become available to show the effectiveness of the various forms of advertising.


Print advertising offers a greater emotional resonance with the customer, an easier ability to recall the information after a duration of time has passed, and may yield a higher number of sales. But cost, lack of “tech functionality,” and timeliness all act as hurdles for those looking to advertise. Digital advertising is the cheaper, faster equivalent that provides a greater degree of transparency with ads but also yields something of a lower impact (depending on how such criteria may be defined), and must be executed properly (“creatively” and “organically”) to be worth the cost.

Any weaknesses of a considered advertising option may be covered by the strength of another medium. Those worried about tracking who sees their physical ads, for example, might be able to do so by putting social media logos in their ad, creating a “metric” to be tracked.

In the next installment, GREEN will look at the “do’s and don’ts” of specific forms of advertising …

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