Advertisers often bemoan the fact that it is difficult to know how well your advertising works. Indeed, TV advertisers have few tools available to calculate whether or not their campaigns are effective. Newspapers advertisers and online adverts can carry codes that make it easier to check whether the advert is working, or not. However, in general terms, advertising is difficult to assess.

Online, there is plenty of advice on tweaking your Pay Per Click adverts, for instance. There are automated split testing systems so that you can constantly check which is the most effective advert. But, many people still complain that they test their adverts, spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars and still don’t see a return.

Well, new research conducted in The Netherlands and published in the latest edition of the Journal of Consumer Research suggests a reason why this may happen. The study involved eye tracking technology as people were shown adverts, but were given specific goals for looking at each advert.

What the study tells is that the way people view the adverts and how they respond depends very much on their goals at that moment in time. In other words, advertising works if it matches the goals and desires of the audience. So, instead of split testing, tracking software and the like, spend more time talking to and analysing your target audience’s needs and you are more likely to make your advertising work.

Too many people, it seems, organise their online advertising based on guess work, rather than truly understanding their target audience. This latest research shows us that if you do that, your advertising is more likely to work as it will be focusing on the goals of your specific audience.

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