Digital advertising could be so much better if..

by Alistair Helm

digits iStock_000000839419XSmall.jpg

The digital advertising landscape continues to be a very fertile ground, especially as compared to the parched and desolate wasteland that is the newspaper industry these days. The latest data from the IAB showed that interactive advertising came close to topping $100m in the first quarter of 2013 up 27% in a year. That’s an extra $200,000 being spent on digital advertising every day in the first 3 months of this year and given the fact that the overall media market is not growing, that means the ‘old media’ industry is loosing $200,000 a day in advertising revenue.

Now as we all know you cannot make an online purchase of a house, but you sure can research real estate online. It is simply the most valuable means of disseminating information regarding property in general. Everyday in NZ over 150,000 visits are made to property portals (TradeMe Property & on a laptop and more commonly nowadays a mobile device.

The consumer loves viewing property online and it's great for advertisers; however for digital advertising to continue to grow, portals as publishers and advertiser need to get smarter in ways that adds relevance and value around the consumer experience.

What portals need to do is deploy advertising in intelligent and valuable ways so that the consumer using the online service and the advertiser seeking to engage that audience derive mutual value. If this is not applied there is a growing danger that the media becomes commoditised and the race to the bottom of lowest cost per eyeball ensues, which has already begun.

Sadly a recent experience in my opinion shows just how not to do it! Let me though be constructive and offer my opinion of where I think the mistake has been made and how it could be done better.

A campaign is currently running on for Upper Hutt City Council. The advert speaks to Upper Hutt being a “great place to live”! Now I am sure that Upper Hutt is a great place to live, but I think the integrated experience anticipated by the campaign could have been better executed given a little more thought and technical consideration.


Lets start by looking at the positives:

  1. The advert only appears on searches for Wellington properties, that’s smart, no point in trying to convince People from Timaru the benefits of Upper Hutt

  2. The click through from the advert goes to a microsite, built for the campaign so that the consumer gets a logical landing page rather than being buried in a local council site

  3. The campaign looks to have been put together with a collection of the local 6 real estate companies – makes sense as they have a vested interest

  4. The advert as featured on has compelling creative asking how far does for example $350,000 go in various Wellington suburbs, whereas in Upper Hutt it buys a whole lot of house


Where does the campaign start to go wrong, or put more positively how could it be enhanced ?

1. There are a couple of different versions of the banner advert shown on based on a price point for property, however these adverts are not being displayed in a way which related to the search parameters of the user – the example below shows an advert with a price target of $450,000 when the search parameter is property less than $300,000.


Wellington Homes for Sale -

2. The microsite provides a proposition for each type of buyer: First Home / Growing Family / Dream Home / Get away from it all / Dream of luxury – great emotive statements what these sections cry out for is real examples of property on the market. It would not be difficult to showcase selected current properties within Upper Hutt that matches the criteria linking back to the agents own website for the property.

3. The integration could be even better if the search string of the user who clicked on the link could be parsed through to the micro site thereby ensuring that the landing page related to the users search, this would ensure better personalization of the experience

4. I find it strange that the 6 real estate companies who I am sure have contributed to this campaign have no back links to their websites from the logos prominently displayed on the microsite

5. The microsite rightly highlights more than houses for sale, it talks of amenities and events as well as local businesses. This last section could have been a compelling opportunity to provide a link to current job opportunities in the area of Upper Hutt – easy to integrate an API feed from TradeMe jobs for example

The key takeaway message as I see it is that whereas digital is still relatively cheap as compared to traditional media, in this case print & radio. It does hold the opportunity to deliver far more effective targeting by audience. However unless appropriate investment is made in better technical integration you risk squandering the opportunity. A smart integrated campaign can deliver a vastly more relevant and contextual message to your chosen audience which is far more likely to garner higher response rates and a more enhanced user experience. Whereas in the past advertising could get away with a sense of irrelevant coverage due to the shotgun approach; in today’s world the consumer tolerance is significantly reduced and the consumer is never more than one click away from someone else's competitive offering .