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Business T-Shirts VS Digital Advertising – A Cost per Impression Analysis

If you own a business or are in charge of marketing for one, you know that cost per impression or the CPM model can be pretty steep. Depending on what vertical your business in, the competition can be fierce and drive prices up. Facebook is currently one of the hottest contenders for marketing dollars. Nanigans, a Facebook Marketing Partner, shared some benchmarks from their pool of Facebook advertisers that revealed you can expect a CPM of $5.99 on Facebook depending on your industry.

The CPM on other ad exchange networks is rising even though digital budgets are increasingly becoming more dispersed across many new advertising sources like video, social and mobile. ZenithOptimedia projects that marketers will increase ad spend on banner style ads to 26.6% in 2016 from 20.6% in 2013. Mobile is of course the biggest source of adspend growth contributing 70% of all extra adspend between 2014 and 2017.

With the substantial increase in adspend in almost all digital verticals, the competition, and thus the CPM will continue to rise. But what about the CPM of a t-shirt advertisement? The cost to acquire a t-shirt remains fairly static. You may think that digital advertisement affords targeting capability that is far superior to that of a t-shirt message but Bloomberg Business recently published some astonishing findings from some pretty big names in the business. Heineken USA marketers discovered that only 20 percent of their impressions were actually seen by real people. Most of the “impressions” you pay for are actually bots or software. Even if you’re using a fancy programmatic buying service, it can’t tell the difference between a bot or person.

Yes, a t-shirt you offer as swag for an event may never be worn. But what if it is? This largely depends on your messaging. Make it clever and attractive. How many times might you expect it to be seen? This will depend on the level of social engagement of the wearer and their geographical location. A subway rider in New York City will interact with way more people than a surfer in Ocean Beach. But think about your last walk down a public sidewalk. How many people did you encounter passing the coffee shop, hair stylist, grocery store, law office, optometrist, movie house, etc.? This type of exposure, especially for hyper local companies can be outstanding. Landscapers, mom and pop restaurants, carpet cleaning services, and beauty salons can all gain branding awareness through a simple and inexpensive custom t-shirt.

Even if you’re part of a startup company marketing an app, how many techie people might be standing behind you in the grocery line, restless and prone to look something up on their phone? In many cases, you have a captive audience that’s more likely to be receptive to an advertisement since it’s associated with a live human being. Keep business cards handy because you never know when you might be approached by a potential customer.

Here are some business t-shirt designs we think are pretty awesome and do a great job of advertising.

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