is your advertising science or religion?

Advertising is part science, part religion and has two purposes.

Firstly, the science. A company runs an ad with an off peak ticket offer - four tickets for the price of two, this weekend only. The company knows how much the ad costs and they know how much the discount costs them. They know how much revenue would normally be generated without the offer so it's simple maths to work out the ROI.

Secondly, the religion. A company put up a 48 sheet billboard for a specific service. They know how many will see the site, but have no idea whether or not it really made an impression. As there is no offer, there is little, if anything, to measure.

So why do companies do advertising that can't be measured? 

Largely because they believe that in the fullness of time those who advertise do better than those who don't. They can't prove that any given "brand" message leads to any given product sale, but they still believe it does.

What follows science and religion is sales and insurance.

The short term purpose of advertising is sales - which is what the ticket offer ad does. The long term purpose is insurance - which is what the cross country 48 sheet does.

The sales part is science - we measure what we put out and what we take in.

The insurance part is religion - we have faith that our efforts today will be rewarded tomorrow.

Much thanks to Bob Hoffman for this story.