• Ad expenditures vs ad medium consumption

    by  • February 22, 2012 • CRE, Marketing

    During a lunch earlier this week the topic of commercial real estate advertising came up. There are the online sources of ILS like LoopNet or CoStar, online flyer and placement ad services like RedNews, Bisnow, Business Journals, and then the traditional sources like street or window signage and periodicals. Real estate overall understands how to reach their target audience when their target audience is looking for real estate – but overall I think dollar per dollar – too much marketing budget still goes to the traditional advertising mediums like print.

    Today  I came across this article which outlined where ad dollars are being spent – but the most telling part of the article is the graphic comparing ad dollar versus time spent by consumers in the various mediums. What is glaring is that web and mobile categories (I’ll refer to these combined as online) are consuming 45% of consumers’ attention yet only account for 17% of advertising expenditures.

    Its well known that more and more advertisers are increasing their expenditures on mobile and internet advertising – but clearly they are far behind consumers in terms of moving their interaction online (both internet and mobile vehicles). So the question is, why are advertisers continuing to throw so much of their marketing budgets at print?

    In my experience, there are only a handful of reasons. First – you can spend considerably less money online to reach considerably more people (although online marketing costs are rising all the time – this is still largely true). So advertisers are left with money in the budget, and with the current demand crisis we’ve been through, many businesses may not see the increased efficiency of online marketing and believe they have to continue print marketing to stay in the game. Second – some advertisers targets are better reached through print; the elderly and retired are a good example. And last – many advertisers do not understand online marketing, but understand print very well (and print often has local salespeople who can explain and be held accountable, while online does not). Advertisers are afraid to navigate the unknown – I think of this as an accountability issue – people generally are not fired for mis-marketing products and services – so justifying a shift in marketing expenditures may not be worth the political capital expenditure – why rock the boat?

    In real estate print marketing is obligatory. We do it because we always have done it (again with the elderly target market being an illustrated exception for why print works in some cases). We do it because clients like to see their property in the paper to be reassured that their broker or agent is working on their behalf. And clients are none the wiser that their broker or agent would be looking after their interests better if a well targeted online campaign had been launched instead – and the cost probably would have been less too.


    Patrick Sprouse has over a decade of experience in the commercial real estate sector. Mr. Sprouse has held numerous positions in commercial brokerage, real estate technology and executive operations on regional, multi-market and national scales. Currently Mr. Sprouse is providing management and technology consulting service for a private real estate services company based in Washington, DC with over $1.5 billion in 2015 revenue. Mr. Sprouse has an extensive background in business management, sales engineering, project management, software selection and business analysis as well as organizational change and brand management.