Thursday, January 22, 2009

What a costly experience: Anatomy of online click advertising campaign

A personal story with a money-saving lesson

[right side animated banners are some of the designs we used in this failed $6,500 online ad campaign].

While our digital imaging retail and ecommerce company regular receives raves for our nearly 19-years of marketing creativity and entrepreneurial inventiveness, we don't always hit "home-runs." In this case, according to company president and CEO, Mitch Goldstone, "it was a complete failure."

A lesson to others in the photo imaging industry, be cautious of investing your advertising dollars in those pay-per-click and impression campaigns, from Google Adwords to highly targeted campaigns directly to your customer base.
In December, invested $6,500 in an online ad campaign with According to the website, they are an "online community with hundreds of thousands of active members and many more casual viewers visiting daily."

These are the results, in our own words on the final email exchanges. There were several earlier ones which provided updates that the campaign was generating nearly no clicks and no conversions:

From: D.S. for Photo.Net

Hi Mitch,

I hope this e-mail finds you doing well. I wanted to run the latest numbers for

The sponsorship of the newsletter generated 627 clicks

Run of site throughout our premiums (DavesGarden, Craftster and generated 1,327 clicks.

A total of 1,954 clicks

Of those 1,954 clicks, how did the campaign work on your end?

Should you have any questions, feel free to let me know.


From: Mitch Goldstone

Hi [D.S.] – Thank you for your follow-up. Unless you can think of something else that can make me happy, I unfortunately have to share with you that this entire and related newsletter and alternative banner ad campaigns were a complete waste.

Sadly, we did not receive a single conversion [order]. We monitored every visit to the site and have software that analyses each transaction Those analytics reveal what our order desk confirmed. No orders generated through this failed campaign. Fortunately, our other marketing campaigns are yielding strong returns.

For paying so many dollars [in your pay-per-impression campaign and newsletter sponsorship to more than 500,000 opt-in subscribers], which in most cases resulted in visits of less than 5-seconds, this was a complete wasted investment. It didn’t meet my objective in any fashion.

As an 18+ year leader in the photo imaging industry and pioneer of very creative marketing campaigns, for me, the results were a dud [our ads even ran in unrelated hobby and gardening categories on your site with the same results]. I do need to share this with my fellow entrepreneurs around the nation; we regularly share feedback on these issues.

Please be reminded, my intention was to make this work and continue investing in over the long term. And, you were gracious with so many extra impressions, but the result was entirely miserable. Can’t be any clearer than that. I hope my experience was an aberration and my feedback to others only a snapshot of the better results for others.

In inverse, here are some recent campaigns that did very well, just from this week.


Fox Business News

CBS News

ABC World News Tonight (about ½ way into segment)

USA Today


From: D.S. for

Hi Mitch,

I’m sorry to hear that the campaign didn’t work for you.

I wish you the best in ’09. It was good working with you.
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