Acquiring Traffic

Don’t Click on My Ad! The Paradox of Free Branding

Tim Gilboy
Wednesday, September 30 2015

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On the FranchiseHelp marketing team we’re not particularly big fans of branding. Well, that’s not entirely true - we’re not particularly big fans of spending money on branding just for branding’s sake. If we’re going to be spending money on online marketing, we want to be able to get something tangible out of our spend. Typically, that means we look more for CPC or CPA based advertising rather than CPM, in order to share some risk with the ad platform and assure that we’re only paying when users actually go to our site. That’s why I feel very strange about writing an article that’s about the advantages of creating an ad with the purpose of NOT getting users to go to your site.

Before I get into the details let me give you a little bit of a background about our advertising on LinkedIn. Some of you may have seen our LGRC articles on your LinkedIn as sponsored posts as we try to get the word out about FranchiseHelp and the Lead Generation Resource Center. But, there’s another type of ad that we started running recently on LinkedIn: Text Ads.


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Text ads in LinkedIn appear in a few different places; at the top of the page or on the right rail. Even though they are far less likely to be clicked than sponsored posts, the payment and ad serving mechanism is the same for both ad types. You choose a bid per click and you pay that bid every time a user clicks on one of your ads. The frequency with which your ad is shown is based on the value of your bid relative to bids of other advertisers targeting the same audience. 

But enough about LinkedIn mechanics.

When we first launched our new set of ads, I made our bid for clicks the same for our text ads as for our sponsored posts. We noticed something pretty quickly -- the text ads weren’t getting clicks at the same rate, but were getting huge number of impressions. Even better, we weren’t getting charged anything for the ads. We were putting the FranchiseHelp name and brand in front of thousands of people… for free.

It might be the case that most people just ignore these text ads, because we’ve become so desensitized to online advertising over the years. But the few people out of every thousand that do notice will now have FranchiseHelp top of mind, and we’re able to do it for no cost at all. Right now we’re testing out increasing our CPC bid to try to get these ads in front of more people to see if we can get even more free impressions. It’s to the point where now, bizarrely enough, part of me is hoping that people don’t click my ads.

I still don’t fully buy into the branding hype train that some marketers subscribe to, but if I can do it for no cost then I’m definitely going to try it out and see how successful we can make it. No such thing as bad publicity, especially when it’s free, right? Do you have any thoughts about franchise brand advertising, LinkedIn advertising, or marketing in general? Shoot us a note!