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BT fails to push offline interest online

I’m rarely taken in by traditional media these days. Non-targeted billboards, newspaper ads and the like usually blur each other out of my consciousness, unless I am faced with one for a long enough period.

One such occasion was last night waiting for my lift home, as I was faced a huge BT billboard advertising their broadband services. As BT have consistently done within their advertising over the past few years (the most popular being ‘Adam & Jane’), the ad refers to a fictional narrative that focuses around using BT’s services.

This time it’s focussed (from what I can gather from the billboard) on 3 young people that all successfully use the same internet connection for their various needs.

BT Flat 6 Billboard

My first major gripe with the billboard is the call to action (if you can see it?!). “Search ‘flat 6′ online” is the smallest item on the billboard and I’m sure that the majority of passers by don’t see it, leaving the billboard rather aimless. That, however, isn’t the biggest issue I have with it; the biggest issue is the CTA itself.

Firstly, my research took me to Google:

BT Flat 6 PPC Ad

As I have now come to expect with this type of nonchalant CTA within traditional media, the whole billboard campaign is resting on a single PPC advertisement, with no sign of BT within the organic search results. It would take very little effort indeed for a competitor to hijack the traffic driven from the campaign by building competing paid ads or organic listings around ‘flat 6′. Hat tip to Pete Young who spotted a similar case last year.

But wait. The CTA says “Search ‘Flat 6′ Online“. Maybe BT have focussed on Bing or Yahoo for their campaign? Sadly not.

Bing BT Flat 6 Ad

Bing and Yahoo have not even been given a second’s thought. As with Google they don’t appear anywhere within the organic listings, but with Bing and Yahoo they have even failed to set up a paid campaign. This means of those passers by that:

  1. See the ad
  2. See the CTA
  3. Are taken in enough to follow the CTA

will be completely lost if they use Bing or Yahoo. Obviously, they both have much less market share than Google but by choosing not to perform the very simple task of setting up a single paid ad on each of the search engines means that BT has lost the potential custom of Bing and Yahoo users.

Overall, the campaign is incredibly badly implemented; from the size of the CTA, to the lazy implementation of the search piece around it. This is happening all too often now and until companies spend the required time, money and effort into implementing the digital and search elements of their marketing correctly, they won’t see the true value that they bring.

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  • Peter Young

    Nice spot Jordan – and strangely enough was going to do exactly the same post this morning. I really do not understand why advertisers don’t think this through given how simplistic it is to often take a page over in these instance – particularly with modern day SERPS.

    Well intended – badly executed

    • Jordan Wilson

      Thanks Pete. I was actually due to write a post on the ‘Number 4′ example last year but you pipped me to the post. Just sad to see nothing has changed in a year with regards to some big companies implementing search/ digital within their overall strategies.

  • Roy Wilding

    Well spotted Jordan. Perhaps there’s more to come but if it had been planned properly they really should have built the online assets to back this up first.

    I can’t imagine it would be terribly difficult to rank top for flat 6.

    In fact what they should have done is chosen whichever flat number they could be sure of ranking for through a small piece of analysis and bagging the proper assets to ensure top rankings.

    I’ve just done a quick domain availability check which showed that flat6.co.uk flat7.co.uk flat8.co.uk and flat9.co.uk are all taken but at the time of writing flat10.co.uk is available. Flat10 sounds better to me as well.