RATE Your Advertising Campaign

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Great advertising can make you feel on top of the world! A successful advertising investment should return 4-5 times your initial investment and drive increased business from both new and existing customers. Unfortunately, not every advertising campaign is created equally. Sometimes, you make an investment and never see that money again.

While you can’t predict the future, we’ve devised a way to easily RATE advertising mediums to determine if you are following best practices to protect your investment.

What does RATE stand for?

RATE stands for Repetition, Appeal, Targeting, and Exposure. These four elements are central to generating profits with your ads. RATE helps you invest the least amount of money in the most effective advertising mediums.


Repetition of Ads Image


How often will people see your ad?

Customers need to see your ad more than once. Advertisers have known this as far back as 1885, as shown in Thomas Smith’s guide, Successful Advertising. Smith believed customers needed to see an ad twenty times before they purchased a product! While the exact rate of repetition is debatable, there are a number of research papers that propose that a good number to target is 7-8 views per customer to ensure they take action.

When it comes to repetition in advertising, more is more.


Magnetic Field Symbol Stock IllustrationAppeal

What will entice people to use your business?

Ads are a bit like spaghetti, businesses throw them on the wall to see which ones stick. We’ve all seen that one “special” ad. The one you’d think someone, anyone, would have opposed before it was published. The one with so much text you can’t tell what’s being advertised or the one that just makes no sense!?!

Design is important because it catches the eye of prospective customers, but a great ad consists of more than just pretty colors and fonts.

An appealing ad connects with the customer and commands an action.

For direct-response ads, command action with a coupon offer!

FREE or a Buy One Get One 50% Off

1000 degrees pizza advertising campaign

These simple messages are sufficient to connect with the audience and drive action (use the coupon). Add a little color and a small supporting image, and you have design quality as well.


For brand ads, appeal takes shape by building trust through an obvious message.

Buying a home? Better call Paul!

sunstreet mortgage advertising campaign

This simple message connects with customers (homebuyers) and drives action by telling the customer how to get in touch. By playing off a popular TV show through both the text and design, this ad evokes feelings of humor, warmth, and connection.


To create an appealing ad, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your ad visually catch the eye?
  • Is the main message of your ad understandable with just a glance?
  • Is your message specific?
  • Does your ad represent your quality? Zany, professional, family-friendly, etc.
  • With appeal, less is more…


Targeting Right People ImageTargeting

Does your ad reach the right people?

If your advertising campaign isn’t seen by your target audience, how could it possibly generate an ROI? Successful campaigns will be distributed to your target market. If they hit more people (as long as you aren’t paying for the extra) that is okay.

Targeting occurs by persona or geography.

  • Persona Targeting – “What do my customers do and where would they see my ad?” For example, hipsters love coffee. If your company sells beard trimming kits, perhaps teaming up with the local coffee house would catch your target audience.
  • Geographic Targeting – “Where do my customers live, play, or work?” For example, outdoor signage would target the same hipsters who walk (or ride their unicycles) to the coffee house. This is called hyper-local advertising; targeting ads within just a few miles of a specific location.

Sometimes you can find both types of targeting in a single medium. Grocery stores, for example, offer a combination of persona and geo-targeting. Statistically, they pull 85% of their customers from a 3-mile radius of the store. By knowing the demographic information from sources like the census, you can target by persona and have some of the best hyper-local targeting.

Exposure of Ads - Red Sunglasses Icon ImageExposure

Will your ad actually be seen?

How your ad is delivered and actually presented to the customer is called Exposure.

Think about visiting a website and getting a pop-up ad that covers the whole page versus the subtle distinction of a sponsored ad in your Facebook news feed. Exposure needs to be a little intrusive to make sure your audience doesn’t dismiss it as background noise. However, if the ad is too invasive it can have real consequences for your advertising campaign.

Too subtle and your customers won’t bite. Too aggressive and there can be a backlash.

The best exposure is when it is a natural part of the consumer’s activities. Some of the subtlest examples are in content marketing. For example, the author highlights a specific product or service, like coupon advertising, within an educational piece. (See what I did there?) Another example is where the ad is pervasive but doesn’t interfere. Imagine an ad that sits just a few inches from your prospect’s hands for about 47 minutes at a time like it does when you advertise on a shopping cart.

How do I RATE my advertising campaign?

Now that you know what the necessary elements of an advertising campaign are and what to look for in each, you can compare each element across potential advertising platforms.

Download this blank worksheet and fill in each row, just like sample below.

RepetitionAppealTargeting / ReachExposure Cost
Google Ads (including map ads)Search Ads: Appear as someone performs a Google search. Impressions are limited by budget.

Display Ads: Appear in ad space on websites who participate on Google Display Network.
Search Ads: Text ads appear as people are actively searching for dining options. Can include text discount offers.

Display Ads: Full- color ad w/ coupon
Depends on CPC and budgetSearch Ads: Appear directly in a user's search results.

Display ads: Continuously appear in various websites that the user visits.
Less than $1-$5+ per click (CPC= cost per click)
Facebook Advertising1-4x per monthFull-Color Ad w/Coupon Discount20K-40K Users within 3-5 miles of your business, narrowed by demographicsNative ad in the user's newsfeed$500 - $800/month
Grocery Store Receipt Advertising4-8x per monthFull-Color Ad w/Coupon DiscountApprox. 80K shoppers within 3-5 milesPlaced directly into the shopper's hand$358/month
Newspaper1x per monthBlack & White ad in Sunday paper318,085 ReadersOn the driveway$4,620 per ad
Radio5 spots per weekAudio only, must be memorable2+ Million listeners, Adults 25-5430 second air time per spot$3,500 per Week (not including production cost)
Billboard7-15x per monthEye-catching Outdoor sign5,391,090 Population6 seconds of visibility$27,050 - $151,800 per month


After filling in all your options, look for the advertising with the highest amount of repetition, appeal, targeting, and exposure for the lowest cost. That will be your best option for generating a positive ROI.


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