How much does an ad cost?

21 Oct

I had a phone call last week from a local business. Let’s call it LB (Local Business).  The conversation went like this:

LB: Can you tell me how much you charge for an ad?

Side by side big and small ice cream conesDB: Do you mean a good ad or a bad ad?

LB: Huh?

DB: Do you want an ad that works or one that doesn’t?

LB: You have options to do bad ads?

DB: No, we only do good ones. But I’m guessing you are shopping around, and your main area of interest seems to be the price. Are you going to go for the cheapest price you can find?

LB: We are price sensitive, yes.

DB: I would suggest that every business, ourself included, is price sensitive. But you’re going to get what you pay for.  If one ad creates business for you and another doesn’t, is the cost of the ad therefore the most important thing?

LB: So how much do you charge?

DB: If I said $1,000 would that seem expensive?

LB: Yes!

DB: If that ad brought you $20,000 in new business, would it still seem expensive?

LB: I understand your point.

DB: Are you sure you need an ad?

LB: I have the space already booked. It’s 1/6 of a magazine page.

DB: How many times are you running this ad?

LB: Just once.

DB: I see. What’s the objective of the ad?

LB: It’s to build awareness and drive traffic to our shop.


DB: If you only have a single 1/6 magazine ad to drive awareness and traffic, I would suggest it needs to be a VERY VERY good ad.

LB: So how much do you charge?

DB: A lot!


6 Responses to “How much does an ad cost?”

  1. jen October 21, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    ha ha. nice. and now you have ready-made dialogue for a copeland video/radio commercial. or maybe copeland communications: the play.

  2. Doug Brown October 21, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    The conversation didn’t end there of course, but it did seem a natural conclusion to the post. 😉 It would be interesting to apply some real tactics to his business, but maybe not this year. Thanks for the comment Jen.

  3. MC October 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Sadly, more and more clients, even bigger ones, are increasingly starting to treat agencies like vendors. The respect for what we do seems to be fast eroding. Do we (agencies) need to introspect a bit? Maybe we’re partly responsible for this.

  4. Doug Brown October 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    There are lots of reasons for this Manu: the commoditization of aspects of our business being one. We need to focus on the value of the work we do and not the hours it takes to produce it. Paying close attention to metrics of success and seeking compensation-based remuneration, whenever possible, is a big step in the right direction. Most importantly though, we have to offer our clients the skills they actually see value in.

    Thanks for the comment and don’t despair!

  5. Marissa B October 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    Great post! also relevant to think about frequency of message: is that single-run ad going to drive the amount of awareness needed to actually change someone’s behaviour and drive traffic to your store? How would this one add compare to having multiple conversations through social media, face-to-face interactions, earned media/editorial, etc?

  6. Doug Brown October 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    Thank you Marissa. Frequency of message was going to be a challenge for that client, but before any discussion of tactics with him, the first hurdle to overcome was his perception that all advertising is the same regardless. Maybe we will have a chance to do so in the future.

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