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Use Ads To Stay In Front
Thursday December 18, 5:58 pm ET
Sonja Carberry

Talk about the hot seat. Advertising is often the first item ditched from a company budget when the economy slows. It's also a prime vehicle for speeding past sluggish competitors. Advertising industry players are revving up savvy solutions to stay ahead of the pack.

Trick it out. Show Media CEO Laurence Hallier says his outdoor and taxi cab advertising firm started taking a recessionary hit last summer. "In 90 days, we had half of our business canceled," he told IBD. "We had to react to that."

Hallier rallied his 50-member staff to create something sharp for a banking client seeking to make a New York City promotion of its certificates of deposit. "We developed an LED top that allows them to quote a CD rate instantly," he said.

That taxi-top advertisement will hit Manhattan streets in March. Show Media is also designing an oversized timepiece taxi top for an iconic watchmaker.

"We've got to come up with innovative ways to get advertisers to use us," Hallier said.

Drive new avenues. Firms running near empty demand maximum return on ad expenditures. So when Hallier pursues newcomers to the taxi cab advertising medium, he touts its 35% unaided recall rate -- meaning more than a third of people remember ad content.

"We've brought a lot of new people to our medium," Hallier said. "You have to be aggressive."

Design new vehicles. Greg Hilton, co-founder of ICE Online, a subsidiary of ICE Innovative Technologies, says now is the time to start up a company's interactive online banner ad widget, coding that embeds additional graphic content into banner ads. That's because thrifty consumers have rediscovered coupons.

ICE's patent-pending widget technology attaches coupons to banner ads in microsites that don't direct Web surfers away from the page they are viewing. "It's also the only Web-based ad widget that's mobile," Hilton told IBD.

That means shoppers can present ad data from a phone to a store cashier for a discount, eliminating the need to carry coupons.

Provide maximum control. If an advertiser wants to offer the coupon for a set number of uses, Hilton says this is programmed into the ICE AdWidget. "As soon as that countdown hits the zero mark, (the coupon) disappears," he said. "All of that content is adaptable real-time."

Be the predator. Forward-thinking firms are boosting ad spending to seize market share. So says Adam Armbruster, partner in New Jersey-based retail advertising and media sales consultancy Eckstein Summers Armbruster & Co.

"The (firms) that are smart are attacking the market with TV promotions," he told IBD. "The lions eat more now, and the lambs starve."

Get top mileage. Armbruster helps clients choose wisely when forced to trim TV ad budgets. "It's better to be strong on two stations than weak on five," he said. "The right two stations will reach 40% of a demographic at any given time."

Another approach?

"Look at modifying your spot length," he said. Instead of 30-second spots, place 15- and fivesecond ads with greater frequency.


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