In any kind of advertising, an advertiser (or prospect) often says something along these lines: “If this works, I’ll invest more.” And we’re often confident that we’ll deliver positive results and keep an advertiser on a long-term campaign.

But then, as the campaign nears an end and the discussion of continuing comes up, the advertiser indicates the campaign either didn’t “work” or they weren’t sure if it worked. The advertiser opts not to continue and — boom — we’ve burned that bridge; the advertiser won’t come back for long time.

Why? Because of the lack of expectation setting.

If the proper benchmarks had been set in the beginning, the media and the advertiser would be on the same page about the definition of “success.” Without establishing realistic expectations, we allow an uneducated decision to be made, even though there was ample data available to make an educated one.

Furthermore, it’s important to establish “the value of the view” — a term I became familiar with in my Yahoo BT selling days.

I think it relates regardless of what kind of advertising you sell. It refers to the value of the ad impression you can deliver to your advertiser, regardless of the additional interaction the consumer might have with it afterward.

In other words, the advertiser can “deliver the eyeballs,” but the ad message must be compelling enough to evoke some kind of action from the consumer.

This is especially true when you’re selling any kind of targeted display or search advertising. The truth is, digital advertising is held to a higher return-on-investment (ROI) standard, due to its unique tracking abilities; if all kinds of advertising had the same tracking methods built in, it would likely be a much flatter playing field.

Let’s say, when discussing expectations for your advertiser’s digital ad campaign, he or she expresses concern about a benchmark click-through rate of .08% for what might be considered average (and thus anything higher would be agreed upon as “success”).

In that case, I would implore you to ask the client what percentage of his outdoor, radio, or TV consumers respond to that messaging. Either they won’t be able to come up with a number, or it will be a guess. 

Digital display advertising should be looked at as billboard or TV branding advertising, with the additional benefit of providing an immediate interaction method if the consumer is motivated to find out more.

Conversely, if the advertiser is going to measure “success” based on the number of phone calls he gets from an ad, there better damn well be: A) a phone number in the advertisement; and B) some compelling reason for the consumers to call, based on seeing that ad.

If both of these concerns are covered, I would suggest adding in some level of phone-call tracking. 

And again, I would agree on a benchmark for the number of calls that would quantify the campaign as “successful” ahead of time.

And, as always, the targeting methods, flight periods, share of voice percentages, and creative design will all be crucial factors in the outcome of the campaign. Suggest a three-month minimum and try some different targets and different creative approaches within that time, to test and gauge which performs the best.

I think you’ll find this process to be helpful for both parties. And, hopefully, it will demonstrate you have the advertiser’s best interest — not his ad budget — at heart.