Google Placement Ads, Creativity & Those Daggone R.O.I. Guys

So, across the marketing and new media blogosphere, everyone is weighing in on Google Placement ads (aka Content Networks).
While the verdict is still out for many web ad “experts,” I see this as a huge opportunity for advertisers and a GIANT shift in how we gauge awareness advertising.

(If you don’t know what Google placement ads are, click here.)
For a little recap, there are 2 basic forms of advertising: Awareness and Direct response. TV, for example, is all about making people aware of a product or service. Direct mail, on the other hand, elicits a direct response (usually measured as percentage).
The two forms are distinct. 
Awareness advertising drives direct response rates higher.
For example, awareness ads for Geico on TV help the Geico direct mailers get better rates of return, typically much better than just going with the mailers alone. Simple principle, right?

Google’s placement ads combine the 2 forms, awareness and response, for the first time ever. So imagine banner ads, served on targeted websites, at VERY LOW cost-per-thousand.
Even if the consumer doesn’t “click” the ad, you’re still creating awareness. If the consumer clicks the ad, then you can measure the direct response. Brilliant!!!!
Right? Hold on, not so fast.
Direct mail remains the biggest single type of advertising in the US.  Companies can get comfy with the ROI of direct mail. After all, more than 50% of all ad dollars are spent on it. Why? Small business owners do not generally understand the principle of “awareness drives response,” so they load up on things like direct mail.
Google is now one of the biggest companies around, built on pay-per-click ads and the same principle behind direct mail….it’s measurable and people feel comfy with it. So, when the Big G branches out into awareness type ads, like Placement, it’s a hard concept for some marketers to grasp. 

There are tons of questions being posed by wary business owners on LinkedIn questions and Yahoo answers…and lots of experts (home-based and otherwise) are weighing in. Most of the guys and gals on these sites dissing the results, don’t really get it.  Direct marketers, and technologists and a full assortment of backside-retentive ROI guys look only at numbers. Look at the numbers. The numbers, man. 
The numbers are important…but they’re looking at the wrong numbers.
A good, well-crafted Google PPC campaign should get you 2, 3, 4% or more response rates, depending on what your selling. (aka CTRs).
Placement ads on Google affiliate sites get 1/10 or 1/2 of a percent, so the numbers don’t match up and appear meek compared to PPC.
But you can get literally Millions of ad impressions on Google networks for the same price as a few thousand PPC impressions. 
THINK about it: 0 .5% of a million is better than 4% of 1,000.

And finally, running banner ads on various websites in the Google network works, IF the creative is good, IF the sites chosen are a good match, and IF the ad has a strong value proposition. 
The ROI Guys who whine and say “Placement ads don’t work” have this one thing in common: They have crappy looking ads. And they made the ads themselves. They were so focussed on ROI that they didn’t hire a professional firm to make (or place) the ads. DIY advertising doesn’t really work. Sorry.
The old adage is “creative drives response” and, despite the changing times and technologies this fundamental precept is still true, perhaps even more so today. And as we enter into new ways of delivering the message through new media, the ROI guys keep forgetting the lesson…or perhaps the never learned it in the first place.