Are TV ads useless?

Want to know the quickest way to get rich? Forget accountancy with all its professional standards and lengthy training. Instead, borrow £20m from a venture capitalist and sink it into a start-up.

It is likely that some clients of accountancy firms are so well-funded they are at a loss to know how to spend funds quickly enough. One way their advisers have been helping them increase their burn rate is by pushing them to build brands as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, in the rush to get brands established, many dot.coms have been talked into television advertising. Needless to say, this doesn’t come cheap. Although television has an important part to play in the marketing mix, so many of the campaigns we see on our screens are simply not getting good enough results.

And the cost of advertising across all media is rising steeply as more dot.coms launch. Now, many key positions on the top websites are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. This means that, for any accountancy firms outside of the Big Five, the price of advertising may rule out the possibility of using this medium.

The real shame of this advertising inflation is many of the millions spent on launches are being wasted on the wrong media.

In fact, TV advertising is the worst case of ad spending going down the drain.

These days it seems that every other TV ad is for,, and But can you remember any of them? There are so many web addresses being blasted from the TV they all merge into the background. And even when the TV ad and web address seem memorable, most people have forgotten them by the time they get in front of a computer.

The 1990s saw more and more businesses selling products direct to the consumer, therefore cutting out the middle man. It follows that business-to-consumer communications must support the direct model, with direct mail and direct response advertising taking the limelight from big-bucks TV ad campaigns.

Gone are the days when you could simply spend your way out of a marketing problem by sending suitcases of cash across to the flash lads of London ad agencies. Now the trend is to choose advertising for better targeting, immediate response and controllable costs.

And that should be what using the internet as a marketing medium is all about. Better targeting, direct response and big cost savings.

Ray Taylor is managing director of online media buying agency eyeconomy.

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