To Buy or Not To Buy: The Pros and Cons of Buying Ads in Super Bowl 2023

Forget football!  For many, the Super Bowl is all about the advertisements.  With over 100 million people watching, it’s the ultimate platform to launch a new product, re-energize a brand or talk about an idea.  Imagine, with one ad, a marketing director can hit 45% of all adults in America during the highest profile TV event of the year.  The temptation is almost too much to resist.  Maybe as important, viewers aren’t tuning in just to see the football game.  They want to be entertained by the ads.  While that may put more pressure on ad agencies to be more clever than ever, it also allows more creative latitude in advertising messaging.  But clients have to be willing to embrace the creative latitude and that can present challenges for advertisers in more conservative lines of business like accountants, investment advisors and even law firms.  

Brantley Davis understands the challenge better than most.  His ad agency, Brantley Davis Ad Agency,  represents some of the most successful law firms in the country.   Many of his client’s law firms have been around for more than thirty years, some for generations.  They’ve poured tens of millions of dollars into building their brands, have a carefully cultivated reputation and are sensitive to taking creative chances.   

“Our law firm marketing clients realize the court of public opinion can be harsh but it’s difficult to resist the allure of running commercials in the Super Bowl of advertising” explained Brantley Davis, President of Brantley Davis Ad Agency. “Most of our law firms run their usual commercials in the Super Bowl, calculating the cost of developing a potentially ho-hum ad for this one game isn’t worth the potential downside.”  

Davis went on to suggest that law firms willing to take chances creatively test ad concepts online with services like Pollfish before running commercials in the game.

“It’s like fixing the game so your firm wins,” explained Davis.  “We hedge our bets by testing talent, concepts and various iterations of ads until the audience is jubilant.”

So, should your firm run ads in the big game?  The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched events of the year, with over 100 million people  tuning in to watch the game, the halftime show, and the commercials. Advertising during the Super Bowl has become an incredibly expensive and competitive venture, with 30-second ads for 2023 costing between $6 and $7 million.   Ads cost much less in local spot markets depending on audience size and station inventory availability.   But still, buying a Super Bowl ad is a difficult decision for many companies, as there are several pros and cons to consider. On one hand, companies can reach a massive audience, but on the other, they may not be able to recoup their investment and get a good return on their advertisement. This article will examine the benefits and drawbacks of buying a Super Bowl ad for potential advertisers looking to make the best decision for their organization.

Benefits of Buying a Super Bowl Ad

There are many benefits to buying a Super Bowl ad, including increased brand awareness, increased sales, increased customer retention, and increased consideration.

Increased brand awareness - One of the biggest reasons to buy a Super Bowl ad is to increase brand awareness. The Super Bowl provides a unique opportunity to reach a massive audience, with the CBS network broadcasting the game reaching 100 million U.S. viewers. This provides a great platform to reach customers and potential customers, including those who are not currently customers.

Increased sales - An additional benefit of increasing brand awareness is the likelihood of an increase in sales. Customers who are aware of a brand are more likely to buy from that brand, compared to customers who are not aware of the brand.

Increased customer retention - Another benefit of a Super Bowl ad is the likelihood of an increase in customer retention. If customers like the advertisement, they are more likely to remain loyal to the brand and purchase from the company again.

Increased consideration - Another benefit of a Super Bowl ad is the likelihood of an increase in consideration. This means that customers who are not currently customers are more likely to consider purchasing from the brand after viewing the advertisement.

Drawbacks of Buying a Super Bowl Ad

There are several drawbacks to buying a Super Bowl ad, including decreased brand reputation, decreased value, and decreased consideration.

Decreased brand reputation - One of the biggest drawbacks to buying a Super Bowl ad is a decrease in brand reputation. The audience is generally very critical in terms of advertising, and it is likely that the Super Bowl audience will notice if the advertisement is poorly made. This may negatively affect the brand’s reputation.

Decreased value - Another drawback to buying a Super Bowl ad is a decrease in value. Customers are generally unimpressed by Super Bowl ads, and are unlikely to remember the advertisement the following day. This means that the value of the advertisement is very low, compared to the price of the advertisement.

Decreased consideration - Another drawback to buying a Super Bowl ad is a decrease in consideration. Customers who are not currently customers are less likely to consider purchasing from the brand after viewing the advertisement.

Considerations for Making a Decision

There are several factors to consider when making a decision regarding whether or not to buy a Super Bowl ad, including expected return on investment, cost of advertisement, and likelihood of success.

Expected return on investment - The expected return on investment is an important factor to consider before buying a Super Bowl ad. You must consider how much you will be spending on the advertisement before even thinking about how much you will gain from it. If you are spending a hefty amount of money on the advertisement, you should expect a substantial return on investment.

Cost of advertisement - Another consideration for buying a Super Bowl ad is the cost of the advertisement. The price of a Super Bowl ad varies from year to year, depending on how many ads are sold. Additionally, the price varies based on the time of the game during which the ad is aired.

Likelihood of success - The likelihood of success is another consideration when buying a Super Bowl ad. You must consider how likely the advertisement is to be successful, based on the audience and the advertisement itself.

Three Classic Super Bowl Ads to Inspire You

The Super Bowl is known for its iconic ads, which have been entertaining viewers for decades. From Budweiser's iconic "Wassup" commercial to Apple’s legendary "1984" ad, the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of memorable ads. To celebrate the best of the best, we're taking a look at the top 3 Super Bowl ads of all time.  From funny to poignant and everything in between, these ads have stood the test of time and remain some of the most memorable commercials to ever grace our television screens. So, grab the popcorn and get ready to take a look at the best of the best. 

Budweiser’s “Wassup” Commercial

Often considered the best Super Bowl ad of all time, Budweiser’s iconic “Wassup” commercial is an absolute must on this list. This commercial, which first aired during Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, is one of the most memorable ads in history. Featuring a group of friends drinking buds, watching the big game while talking on the phone and laughingly belting out “Wassup.” The commercial became a pop culture sensation overnight and is still one of Budweiser’s best-loved ads.

Apple’s “1984” Commercial

If you were alive in the ‘80s, you probably remember this commercial. The ad, which aired during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, was Apple’s very first Super Bowl commercial, and it was an absolute game-changer. The commercial, which was directed by Ridley Scott and featured an unnamed heroine exploring an Orwellian dystopia, was a poignant statement. The message was that Apple's new computer would revolutionize the future of technology and deliver freedom rather than more control. But the ad almost didn't air. Market research indicated viewers would not respond well to the ad. It scored a 5 on a 43 point scale for effectiveness. And while Steve Jobs loved the ad, Apple's board of directors hated it so much they instructed Jobs to sell the two minutes of airtime Apple had bought in the Super Bowl. However, Apple's ad agency, Chiat Day, slow-walked the request and were only able to sell one of the two minutes they'd purchased. So, the ad aired and cemented Apple as a major player in the tech industry.

Coca-Cola’s “Mean Joe Greene” Commercial

Another ad from the ‘80s, the famous “Mean Joe Greene” commercial is often credited with saving the Super Bowl. The commercial first aired during Super Bowl XIV in 1980. The ad, which features football legend Joe Greene handing a Coke to a young boy, cemented Coca-Cola as a household name. The commercial, which featured one of the most iconic images of the decade, is often credited with helping the Super Bowl grow into the cultural phenomenon it is today. The commercial is widely regarded as one of the best Super Bowl ads in history, and is widely credited with changing the way advertising works in America.


The Super Bowl is an extremely competitive advertising platform, with 30-second ads costing around up to ​​$7 million. These advertisements provide an excellent opportunity for brands to increase brand awareness, earn new customers, and increase sales. However, there are several drawbacks to buying a Super Bowl ad, including decreased brand reputation, decreased value, and decreased consideration. When making a decision regarding whether or not to buy a Super Bowl ad, it is important to consider the expected return on investment, cost of advertisement, and likelihood of success.  

Top Florida Law Firm, Clayton Trial Lawyers, Hires Brantley Davis Ad Agency

Ad Agency to Handle Search Engine Marketing, TV Production and Media Placement 

One of the top law firm marketing ad agencies in America has been hired by one of America’s best law firms.  Clayton Trial Lawyers, based in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, has named ​​Brantley Davis Ad Agency (BDAA)  their Agency of Record.  William Clayton, Founder of Clayton Trial Lawyers, said his firm had been searching for the right ad agency for a year.  He finally found Brantley Davis Ad Agency through a close friend who manages a St. Louis law firm known for its unique advertising.  

“Brantley’s track record of delivering results for law firms is what impressed us initially,” observed William Clayton, President of Clayton Trial Lawyers.  “But  the more we talked, the more I realized we shared a common vision for the Clayton Trial Lawyers brand.  And now that we’re on the precipice of bringing that vision to life, I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Brantley Davis Ad Agency works with top personal injury law firms from New York to Los Angeles. The agency’s polished product is well regarded throughout the industry and has been the subject of humorous skits on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. BDAA was founded in 2021 by Brantley Davis, an award winning writer and ad agency veteran of thirty years.  He has been marketing law firms since 1993.  Davis and his team are credited with introducing revolutionary marketing tactics that changed law firm marketing, including the use of fifteen second bookend commercials, competitive frequency benchmarking and creative hooks like  “What’s Your Case Worth?”

“We’re thrilled to be working with one of Florida’s top personal injury law firms,” commented Brantley Davis, President of Brantley Davis Ad Agency. “Attorney William Clayton has a brilliant legal mind and clever wit that lends itself to break through marketing.  An ad agency can’t ask for much more.”

The attorneys at Clayton Trial Lawyers are known throughout the country as elite trial attorneys and are regularly listed in the Best Lawyers in America.  William Clayton, founder of Clayton Trial Lawyers, was a top shareholder at one of the nation’s largest law firms for fifteen years before launching his own firm. He has served as a national chair in litigation and tried more than 100 cases in state and federal courts, winning more than $150 million in jury verdicts.  Mr. Clayton has received numerous accolades for his work in Florida and around the U.S., including Ft. Lauderdale “Trial Lawyer of the Year,” “Legal Elite” in Florida,  “Best Lawyers in America,” “Best Law Firms in America,” “Legal Elite” in New York City, “Top Lawyers” in Vegas, “Super Lawyer” in Florida and “Top Lawyers” in Southern Nevada.  The firm also was recently named one of the best in the region by U.S. News & World Report. But Clayton says his work isn’t about the awards or necessarily the money.

Clayton explained, “A lot of people say personal injury law is just about money.  But the fact is, the money personal injury attorneys convince insurance companies pay to accident victims is a means to a just end.  The money helps rebuild people’s lives.  And that is an immensely rewarding payoff for me as an attorney and a person.”  

Brantley Davis Ad Agency will handle Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and TV negotiations on behalf of Clayton Trial Lawyers in the West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami markets.  The agency is also developing its proven TV spots and adding a twist the staid Florida market is not expecting.  

When asked about the twist, Brantley Davis was circumspect, “In the interest of discretion, we never reveal an ad campaign before launch but I will tell you this.  These ads will have Clayton Trial Lawyers humming.”

Law Firm Marketing: How Youtube Advertising Can Help Law Firms Reach More Clients

Law Firm Marketing: How Youtube Advertising Can Help Law Firms Reach More Clients

Admit it.  You spent at least 45 minutes last night watching videos about your favorite topic on  Youtube.  Well, you’re not alone.  Youtube is the most popular streaming platform. And with plans to test a free hub for streaming, Youtube’s popularity is set to grow even more.  Yet surprisingly, many personal injury law firms don’t include Youtube in their law firm marketing plan.  Brantley Davis thinks that’s a mistake.  He runs a law firm marketing ad agency in Washington D.C, Brantley Davis Ad Agency.

“Youtube is a powerful part of the media mix in every one of our law firm markets across the country.  We simply view it as another TV station,” explained Davis.  “And I know it works because we use Youtube exclusively in some markets and it generates solid law firm cases month after month.”   

Davis’ ad agency employs proprietary tactics on Youtube developed over years of trial and error.  But he says even novices can mount successful Youtube campaigns for law firms because so few law firms are using the platform.  

For law firms, Youtube advertising provides a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience than ever before with targeting capabilities not available on other media like broadcast TV. And Youtube can also be less expensive and more flexible from a budget perspective than other channels.  So, there’s a lot to like about Youtube.  But before you launch your new ad campaign, here are some basic guidelines to creating a successful Youtube presence for your law firm.   

What is Youtube Advertising?

Youtube ads are a form of online marketing that allows law firm advertisers to promote their products on Youtube. This allows advertisers to direct their ads to specific demographics and increase their brand awareness. There are a variety of different ad formats available 

that allow advertisers to promote their products in different ways. These include: 

  • Video Ads - Video ads are the standard form of advertising on Youtube. Video ads appear before a user's video and can either be skippable (15 seconds) or unskippable (30 seconds). 
  •  In-feed Video Ads - In-feed video ads are designed to appeal to a user’s sense of sight. These are typically images and text which appear on a user’s screen. 
  • Bumper Ads - Short video ads to catch the attention of  the viewer.
  • Outstream Video Ads - Outstream video ads are similar to in-feed video ads, but they only appear on mobile. Instead, they are placed strategically on websites and apps running on Google video partners. 

Benefits of Youtube Advertising for Law Firms

There are many benefits that come with using Youtube advertising to reach potential clients.

  • Reach a Wider Audience: Youtube has seen massive growth in recent years  and is used by millions of people every day. In fact, millions of hours of content are watched on the platform daily, making Youtube an ideal platform for law firms to reach a wider audience and expand their client base. 
  • Engage New Clients: Youtube ads are designed to engage and inform potential clients. This makes them an ideal tool for law firms to build a strong connection with clients and encourage them to book an appointment. 
  • Build a Strong Brand Presence: Branding is an important part of any law firm's marketing strategy. Youtube ads are designed to help law firms strengthen their branding and create a memorable presence online.
  • Save Money: Youtube advertising is a cheaper and more cost effective solution than most other forms of advertising. 
  • Stay Connected with Clients: A sizable portion of personal injury law firms' clients are millennials. These are individuals who are connected to social media and spend a lot of time online.  With Youtube ads, law firms can stay connected with their clients and remain top of mind.

How does Youtube Advertising Work?

There are two steps to setting up an effective youtube ad campaign. First, a law firm must decide which ad format they will use. Then they must create a customized ad that resonates with their target audience. There are three main ad formats on Youtube: 

  • Video Ads - Video ads appear before a user's video and can either be skippable (15 seconds) or unskippable (30 seconds). Video ads are the standard form of advertising on Youtube and are the most common form of advertising found on the platform. 
  • In-feed Video Ads - Display ads are designed to appeal to a user’s sense of sight. These are typically images and text which appear on a user’s screen. 
  • Outstream Video Ads - Outstream video ads are similar to display ads, but they only appear mobile.  Instead, they are placed strategically on websites and apps running on Google video partners.

Creating an Effective Youtube Ad

When creating an ad, it is important to keep your audience and your goals in mind. The best way to do this is by creating a detailed ad plan and ad brief. An ad plan is a written document that outlines all of the important components of an ad campaign. An ad brief is a one page document that outlines your campaign goals and key ad components. Some of the key components that should be outlined in an ad plan include: 

  •  A brief overview of the law firm and their services 
  • Objective and goal of the ad 
  • The law firm's target audience 
  • Creative strategy behind the ad 
  • Budget 
  • Timelines 
  • The ad's execution 
  • Success metrics 
  • Expected results
  •  Potential issues and contingencies
  • A brief overview of the law firm and their services

The first step in making an effective ad is to clearly outline your law firm's services and what they do. This will give the user a better idea of what your law firm offers, which can help attract potential clients. For example, if your law firm specializes in bankruptcy, you could include an overview in your ad that states: "We help families through difficult financial situations and end their debt cycle."

The Objective and Goal of the Ad

Every ad should have a clear objective. This will help keep the ad focused and ensure that the ad is as effective as possible. There are many ways that you can use your ad to reach potential clients and increase your law firm's visibility. Some examples include: 

  • Driving traffic to your website 
  • Driving traffic to your appointments page 
  • Increasing your brand awareness 
  • Building your email list 
  • Increasing your website's organic traffic 
  • Driving traffic to your social media pages 
  • Increasing inbound leads

The Law Firm's Target Audience

Knowing exactly who you are trying to reach will help you create an effective ad. If you are unsure who your target audience is, try making a short survey or poll that you can post online. This will help you discover who your target audience is and identify any potential areas of improvement. If you are unsure what platform to use, there are a few options. You can use Facebook or Google surveys to get a better idea of your target audience. 

The Ad's Creative

The ad's creative is the visual element of the ad. There are a few key elements to keep in mind when creating the visual side of your ad. The visual should be clear and concise, engaging and focused on the benefits to the consumer.  And if possible, make the visual shareable.  

The Ad's Budget

The advertising budget is a crucial element of any campaign. It is important to know exactly how much your campaign will cost and when to end the campaign. A campaign's length is essential because it will determine how much it will cost. The best way to determine your ad's budget is by calculating your ad spend. You can do this by multiplying your daily ad spend by the number of days in your campaign. A good rule of thumb is to spend 30% of your total budget on the first week of your campaign.

The Ad's Expected Results

The ad's expected results are the benefits that you hope to gain from the campaign. These results should be realistic and achievable. They should also be related to the campaign's goal. For example, if your goal is to drive traffic to your website, your expected results might be: - More website traffic - Higher-quality leads - Increased brand awareness - More website conversions - More appointments booked

Potential Issues and Contingencies

Once you have created your ad campaigns and published them, it is important to keep an eye on how they are performing. This will help you identify any potential issues that might arise and take action to correct them as quickly as possible. The best way to monitor your campaign's performance is by creating a Google dashboard. If you notice that your ads are not working or are not reaching the right people, it is important to make a change as soon as possible.  


How Billboard Marketing Can Help Grow Your Law Firm's Business: A Guide

How Billboard Marketing Can Help Grow Your Law Firm's Business: A Guide

If you’re looking to expand your law firm’s reach and visibility, investing in a billboard marketing campaign can be one of the best strategies to help grow your business. Billboard marketing has been a popular method for companies to promote their services for many years. It’s a great way to reach potential clients with an eye-catching message, and it’s an effective way to make a big impact in your area. With this guide, you can learn how to use billboard marketing to boost your law firm’s visibility, draw in more clients, and increase your profits. We’ll cover the basics of billboard marketing, the benefits it can offer your firm, and tips on creating an effective campaign. But first we spoke with Brantley Davis, President of Brantley Davis Ad Agency.  His firm buys billboards across the country for personal injury law firms.  We asked him the most important question of all about billboard marketing:  Are billboards cost effective?  Davis answered emphatically, 

“Yes, billboards can absolutely, positively be cost effective.  We see billboards pay off for our clients every day.  But the locations have to be optimum, the message clear and no more than eight words should be featured on the billboard.”  

Davis relayed a recent real life example of billboard marketing paying off.  His firm launched a 15 board showing in a major western U.S market in November.  The boards were strategically located in the law firm's primary market on major thoroughfares.  Cases ticked up by 25% by the end of the month.  And in December cases were up nearly 50%.  Davis noted this particular firm was also running substantial SEM and TV advertising but those budgets didn’t change.  

What is Billboard Marketing?

Billboard marketing, also called outdoor advertising, is the use of outdoor advertising to promote a product, service, or idea. Traditionally, outdoor advertising has been used to promote goods and services like hotels, radio stations, and concerts. In recent years, it’s become more common for businesses to use outdoor advertising to promote their products and services. This includes billboard marketing, which is one of the most popular ways to advertise. Billboard marketing has been an effective way for companies to promote their goods and services for decades. It can be a great way to advertise your law firm, and it’s an effective way to reach potential clients with a message that sticks.

Benefits of Billboard Marketing for Law Firms

Billboard marketing is a great way to promote your law firm and increase your visibility. A billboard gives you the opportunity to showcase your brand, services offered, and contact information in a single, impactful ad that your audience won’t be able to ignore. With the right campaign, you can reach customers in your area who are looking for legal help and encourage them to contact your firm. A billboard marketing campaign can help you attract more clients and grow your law firm’s profits. It can help you reach a wider audience that may not know your firm exists. When executed correctly, a billboard marketing campaign can help you boost brand awareness and increase visibility in your area. It can help you reach new customers and attract more clients, which can lead to more business for your law firm. This can help you grow your business and increase profits from your law firm.

Creating a Successful Billboard Campaign for Your Law Firm

To create a successful billboard marketing campaign, you’ll want to follow a few key steps. Before you launch your campaign, you may want to do some research on popular billboard advertisements in your area. Looking at what others are doing can give you some insight into what works and what doesn’t. You can also check out some best practices for creating an effective billboard ad. Once you’ve got a few different billboard ad ideas in mind, you’ll want to create a mockup of what your billboard might look like. This will give you an idea of how the billboard will appear, and it can help you decide which ad to go with. Once you’ve created your mockup, you can then find a billboard company to partner with. Once your campaign has launched, you’ll want to track your progress and make adjustments as needed. This can help you track how well your billboard is doing and make any necessary changes to boost performance.

Tips for Writing an Effective Billboard Ad

When writing your billboard ad, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. Your billboard ad should be short and to the point, but it also needs to include all the information about your law firm and what you offer. You should include your law firm name, address, and contact information in the ad to increase visibility. You may also want to consider including a special offer or a call to action in your billboard ad. Your billboard ad should be eye-catching and memorable. You want to catch the attention of passersby and make your ad stand out from the rest. Since your billboard will be outdoors, it will be exposed to all kinds of weather, so you want to make sure the ad is easy to read even in bad weather.

Choosing the Right Billboard Design

When selecting the design for your billboard, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. Your billboard design can have a big impact on how your billboard looks and how effective it is. You’ll want to make sure your billboard design matches your brand and is easy to read from a distance. Your billboard design should be large enough to be readable from a distance, but it shouldn’t be too big either. You’ll want to make sure your design can be read from the road, but it doesn’t take up too much space. You’ll also want to make sure your billboard design is high-quality. You want your billboard to look professional and eye-catching, and a shoddy design won’t help you reach your goals.

Where to Place Your Billboard Ad

When it comes to placing your billboard, you’ll want to consider a few things. You’ll want to find a location where your billboard will be visible to as many people as possible. A busy road with lots of traffic is a good place to start. You may also want to consider the cost of placing your billboard in different areas. You can use tools like Google Earth to find potential locations for your billboard. You can also reach out to local billboard companies to see if they offer advice on the best locations for billboards in your area.

Other Advertising Opportunities to Consider

If your law firm is looking to invest in billboard marketing, you may be wondering if it’s worth the investment. This type of advertising can be costly, so you’ll want to make sure it’s worth the investment. You can also consider investing in other types of outdoor advertising, such as bus advertisements, to help promote your law firm. These types of advertisements can be effective at reaching a wide audience and can be relatively inexpensive. They can also be a great way to supplement your billboard advertising.

Things to Avoid in a Billboard Ad

Avoid using too much text in your billboard ad by keeping it short and to the point. You don’t want your billboard ad to read like a novel. Instead, keep it simple and direct, and use as few words as possible. Avoid using any imagery in your billboard ad that may be considered offensive or distasteful. This may offend potential clients, and it may even get your billboard removed.


Billboard marketing is a popular form of advertising that can help you reach a wide audience and grow your law firm’s visibility. This type of advertising can help you attract more clients and boost brand awareness, and it can help turn potential clients into paying customers. To get the most out of your billboard advertising campaign, you’ll want to invest in a high-quality billboard design and place it in a busy area. You can also consider investing in other types of outdoor advertising, such as bus advertisements, to help promote your law firm. When you invest in outdoor advertising, you’re reaching a wide audience and increasing your law firm’s visibility. This can help you attract more clients, grow your business, and boost profits.


What is search engine marketing?

Making the Case for Law Firm Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Making the Case for Law Firm Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

What’s the first thing you do when you’re considering a new purchase for your family?  Odds are, you search online for the product or service you need.   According to recent studies, 87% of all consumer searches for new products start online.  And searching for a lawyer is no different.  A huge percentage of searches for legal professionals starts online too.  Brantley Davis knows.  He runs  Brantley Davis Ad Agency based in Washington, D.C.  His firm handles Search Engine Marketing for personal injury law firms from coast to coast.  

“At least 70% of car accident victims who don’t already know an attorney search for one online.  And they’re hot prospects, ready to hire a lawyer today.”  Davis continued, “If you’re running a law firm, you can’t afford to ignore Search Engine Marketing.”  

According to Davis, Search Engine Marketing, also known as SEM, is one of the easiest, quickest ways to leverage hot prospects online.  An ad campaign can be up and rolling in a week and turned off with a moment’s notice.  Maybe best of all, the cost of entry is not prohibitive.  Any size law firm can leverage search engine marketing with a small budget, unlike TV where the cost of entry in a major market can cost millions of dollars.  And with SEM, small law firms can leverage larger firms' TV driven, online traffic by targeting keywords associated with the large law firm’s brand.  

Unfortunately, thousands of law firms still ignore Search Engine Marketing to their detriment.  Many lawyers are too busy practicing law or simply not willing to invest the time and energy to get up to speed on digital marketing.  The easiest way to fast track SEM is to hire an ad agency already adept at digital marketing.  But before doing that, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basics of SEM.  Here’s a quick primer.  

A Primer on ​​Search Engine Marketing for Law Firms

Search engine marketing (SEM) is becoming an increasingly popular way for law firms to promote their services and grow their businesses. With the right strategies in place, you can make sure that your law firm is seen in the right places, at the right times, and by the right people. It can also help you build trust and credibility, as well as give you an edge over the competition.  Moreover, a solid SEM program can be a powerful tool to help grow your law firm's bottom line.

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of bringing targeted traffic to your website through paid advertisements on search engines. The ads include images, information, and a link to your website.  You can use these ads to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, and lead generation. SEM is a great strategy for law firms looking to establish their brand online, increase leads, and drive revenue.

Search engine marketing strategies

There are many different strategies that you can use to grow your law firm using SEM. You can use paid search ads, paid placement, and paid discovery to bring targeted traffic to your website. Paid search ads allow you to appear in natural search engine results at the top, middle, or bottom of the page.

Creating an SEM strategy

Before you start investing in SEM, you will need to create an SEM strategy. You can start by defining goals and objectives. What are your law firm's goals for next year? What are your law firm's objectives? What do you want to accomplish with your SEM strategy? When you have your goals and objectives in place, you can create an SEM strategy. Choose the best search engine for your law firm, the best keywords, and the best target audience. Create a budget and a timeline to help you stay on track. By creating an SEM strategy, you can make sure that you are investing your money in the right ways and reaching the right people at the right times with the right services.

Best practices for search engine marketing

There are many different best practices to grow your law firm through SEM.

  • Make sure that you are targeting the right keywords. These are the words and phrases people are searching for online.
  • Ask an SEO expert to audit your law firm's website to ensure it's optimized for search engines. Confirm the website is mobile friendly, has great content, and follows best SEO practices. 
  • Use social media to engage with people, answer their questions, and build trust and brand awareness.
  • Develop an email marketing program to engage former clients and potential new ones.

By following these best practices, you can make sure that your law firm is seen in the right places, at the right times, and by the right people.

Measuring search engine marketing success

There are several ways to measure the success of your SEM strategy. Measure your traffic, leads, and conversions.

  • Traffic – How much traffic is coming to your website? You can measure this by tracking your website traffic, including where that traffic is coming from.
  • Leads – How many leads are coming in? You can track your leads and conversions to see how many leads you are getting and how many of those are becoming paying customers.
  • Conversions – What percentage of your leads are turning into customers? You can track your conversions to see how many of your leads are actually buying your products or services.

By measuring your traffic, leads, and conversions, you can see how successful your SEM strategy is.

Tips for successful search engine marketing

There are many tips that you can follow to make sure that your SEM strategy is successful. Create a solid plan and strategy. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it.  Diversify your marketing efforts and do not rely too much on one source of traffic. Test, iterate, and make adjustments along the way if needed.  Measure your results, adjust your strategy based on those results, and keep moving forward.

The best search engine marketing platforms

There are many different platforms that you can use for search engine marketing, but these three are the best for law firms. The first one is Google Ads. This is the most popular and widely used platform for search engine marketing. The second one is Facebook Ads. This is a great platform for B2C law firms. The third one is LinkedIn Ads. This is a great platform for B2B law firms. There are also other platforms available, including Bing Ads, Twitter Ads, and Instagram Ads. These are also good platforms that you can use for search engine marketing.



Creating an SEM strategy

Why Law Firms Need to Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Successful Marketing

Why Law Firms Need to Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Successful Marketing

Quick, if you were injured in a car accident and needed a lawyer, what’s the first thing you’d do?  If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’d search online for an attorney.  According to recent studies, 87% of all consumer searches for products start online.  That’s a compelling statistic, especially considering car accident victims searching online are hot prospects, ready to hire a lawyer today. It would be law firm marketing malpractice to ignore the prodigious flow of online accident lawyer searches.

80% of Consumers Skip Paid Search Ads

Consumers are skeptical of advertising.  80% of Americans searching online skip paid ads and proceed directly to organic results.  That’s why it’s imperative personal injury law firms develop a long term, strategic approach to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  A quick SEO audit by an experienced law firm marketing agency can give you a sense for your law firm’s current rankings, and what can be done to improve them.

Brantley Davis runs a law firm marketing ad agency, Brantley Davis Ad Agency, in Washington D.C.  His agency markets law firms from New York to Seattle and is on the front lines of Search Engine Marketing.

“It’s common sense.  If 80% of car accident victims skip paid lawyer ads and go directly to organic results, your law firm can’t afford to ignore Search Engine Optimization,” Davis continued, “Many law firms have saturated television but have been slow to embrace Search Engine Marketing. That’s left them vulnerable to smaller competitors who have leapt ahead using digital marketing.”

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of a website on a search engine result page (SERP), which is the list of website links shown in response to a user’s search query. SEO is not a “silver bullet” that can instantly boost a website’s ranking. Rather, it’s a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort over time to see results. There are a number of factors that determine where a website ranks in search engine results. These factors include the number of sites linking to your website, the text on your website’s pages, your website’s architecture, your website’s authority, and more.

Benefits of Investing in SEO for Law Firms

  • Reach more potential clients – By investing in a solid SEO strategy, law firms can reach more potential clients online, leading to more business. By increasing your website’s visibility on SERPs, you can reach a larger audience, including people who are searching for legal help but aren’t necessarily ready to hire yet. SEO can help you to connect with these potential clients and guide them through the decision-making process.
  • Improve brand awareness – Brand awareness is an essential element of law firms’ success. Brand awareness can help law firms to secure new clients, increase retention rates, and increase referrals. Investing in SEO can help brand awareness by increasing your law firm’s online presence and making your website more visible to potential clients.
  • Improve lead generation – SEO can help law firms generate leads by driving more traffic to websites and boosting conversion rates. By increasing website traffic, law firms can collect more leads, contact information, and email addresses, which can be used to guide clients through the decision-making process.

The Cost of SEO

The cost of executing a solid SEO program can range anywhere from $5,500 to $20,000 per month but compare proposals closely to avoid overpaying.

“There’s only so much you can do for SEO each month,” cautioned Brantley Davis. “For example, generating too many backlinks in a month will actually hurt your law firm’s Google rankings.  Play the long game and don’t overpay.”

SEO proposals should include a site architecture audit, 300-500 backlinks per month with solid Domain Authority, 8,000-16,000 words per month in blog content, and special attention to local Google maps and reviews.

SEO Tactics for Law Firms

  • Focus on long-tail keywords – Long-tail keywords are highly specific phrases that are more likely to convert than broad, short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are also easier for law firms to rank for, making them a valuable SEO tactic. By focusing on long-tail keywords, law firms can create more targeted content that is likely to convert.
  • Create useful and high-quality content – To rank higher on SERPs, law firms need to engage their potential clients. The best way to do this is by creating high-quality content on their website and connecting with potential clients through that content.

How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy

There are a few key components to creating an effective SEO strategy for law firms:

  1. Defining goals – Before starting your SEO strategy, it’s important to define your goals. What are you trying to achieve with SEO? What do you want to get out of it? Defining goals for your SEO strategy can help you to stay focused and make sure that you’re putting your time and effort into the right things.
  2. Competitive analysis – Once you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to conduct a competitive analysis. A competitive analysis can help you understand your competition, the keywords they’re ranking for, and the types of content they’re publishing.
  3. Creating an editorial calendar – An editorial calendar can help you to stay on track with your SEO strategy. An editorial calendar outlines all of the content that you’ll be publishing, when you’ll be publishing it, and how it relates to your overall SEO strategy.

Keyword Research for Law Firms

Keyword research is the process of researching and discovering which search terms people are using to find solutions to their problems. By conducting keyword research, law firms can discover which keywords they should be targeting, and how they can rank higher for them. There are a few different ways to research keywords and discover which ones are best to target.

  • Using a keyword tool – There are a number of keyword tools that can help law firms to conduct keyword research. By using a keyword tool, you can enter a few different keywords, and the tool will pull data and offer suggestions for additional keywords to target.
  • Conducting a manual keyword analysis – Although keyword research tools can be helpful, it’s also important to conduct a manual keyword analysis to make sure that you’re targeting the right keywords. To conduct a manual keyword analysis, you can review websites that are ranking for your desired keywords to discover what their content is about.

Link Building for Law Firms

When it comes to SEO, link building is the process of gaining external links to your website from other websites. External links are important because they can help to increase your website’s authority and improve your SEO. External links also help to improve brand awareness and generate more leads. For law firms, there are a few different ways to build links to their website, including:

  • Building links through content
  • Creating valuable, helpful, and high-quality content can not only help you to rank higher on SERPs, but it can also help you to earn links from other websites. By creating content about topics that other websites are also linking to, you can reach out to those websites and ask them to link to your content.
  • Building links through guest posts – Guest posts are articles that are published on another website. By writing guest posts for relevant websites, you can earn links back to your website. This is a great way to build links through content and can help to increase your brand awareness.

How to Measure SEO Success

There are a few different metrics that can help you to measure your success with SEO.

  1. Traffic – The number of people visiting your website is a good metric to track and can help you to measure your success with SEO. The more people visiting your website, the more likely they are to convert.
  2. Conversion rate – The number of people visiting your website who choose to complete a specific action, like filling out a form or making a purchase, is another good metric to track. The higher your conversion rate, the more successful your SEO efforts are.

SEO Tools for Law Firms

  • SEMrush – SEMrush is a free online tool that can help you to track your SEO efforts. With SEMrush, you can track your website’s traffic, keywords, and more.
  •  Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a free tool that can help you to better understand your website’s traffic. With Google Analytics, you can track your website’s traffic, discover which pages are the most successful, and more.
  •  HubSpot – HubSpot is a marketing software that can help you to track your SEO efforts. HubSpot can help you to track your website’s traffic, discover which pages are the most successful, and more.
  • SEMrush – SEMrush is a free online tool that can help you to track your SEO efforts. With SEMrush, you can track your website’s traffic, keywords, and more.

Brantley Davis Says "TV Here To Stay" In Washington Business Journal

Recently Brantley Davis, president of Brantley Davis Ad Agency, was featured in the Washington Business Journal's piece "Greater Washington ad executives talk TV trends."See his thoughts below about the future of media and what's in and out.

Greater Washington ad executives talk TV trends.

By Carolyn M. Proctor  –  Data Editor, Washington Business Journal
Nov 25, 2022

The number of eyes glued to network television and the number of ears tuned to local radio stations are both shrinking, and have been for some time. It’s clear where those eyes and ears are going, as increasingly more young adults prefer streaming and podcasts to traditional outlets. The majority of seniors, meanwhile, still tune in to the evening TV news, so while the changes are obvious, it’s no clear-cut conclusion that TV and radio are dying.

Who’s keeping closest tabs on these trends? Look no further than ad agencies. It’s their job to know who’s paying attention to which media so they can make sure their ads are targeted to the right audience.

Bearing that in mind, we reached out to some of the region’s advertising executives to learn more about what they’re seeing on this front, and what their strategies are concerning television and radio these days.

What’s changed – and what hasn’t 

It’s tempting to observe these audience changes and reach the conclusion that network TV and radio are phasing out or no longer important — but ad execs would tell you: Not so fast. They both still have a crucial place in media, it’s just more complicated.

“Twenty years ago, media planning was simpler. For mass reach, we bought TV and targeted specific demographics based on TV programming. And if we wanted to target specific audiences more surgically, we chose from various radio formats,” said Brantley Davis, president of Brantley Davis Ad Agency. “But today, media has fractured. As a result, a much higher level of sophistication is required to plan media, not only because of the wide variety of options, but also due to legitimate questions about the efficacy of newer media.”

Davis said he now allocates about 15% to 30% of media budgets to digital and social media when targeting the 25- to 54-year demographic. That’s a big change from 20 years ago, when TV and radio could easily take 100% of those budgets. Cable TV, Davis said, is still going strong, especially news and sports, and broadcast TV isn’t a slouch.

“TV still offers efficient mass reach and delivers proven results for advertisers,” he said. “In the midterm elections, more money was spent on broadcast TV than any other media, again.”

Looking at certain media types as “older” misses the point, as Sarah Spatafora, media director for LMO pointed out.

“It really boils down to where our target audiences are consuming media now and what media types are showing growth among those demographics — and less about how those media types are perceived as older or more analog,” Spatafora said. “Inherently, we know that if we’re strategizing for a campaign aimed to reach older consumers or consumers in more rural communities where broadcast television and radio consumption is high, including TV and radio in that campaign will be crucial,” she said.

Where we’re headed 

“Commercial TV, like radio, will always have a place in the mix. They just no longer are the only ingredients of the mix,” said Matt Smith, CEO of SmithGifford. “Mass media is what’s dead. Having one place to reach everyone is dead.”

Alicia Gehring, vice president of media for White64, said the average adult still spends about six hours a day watching TV — the difference is they’re not only watching TV, but also looking at digital devices at the same time. Attention is just more fractured.

And that, experts acknowledge, makes the job more a challenge.

“We cut the research in multiple ways in order to understand audiences and create a target audience universe,” said Jacqui Hannigan, head of media for RP3 Agency. “We ask: What is our creative message, what is this format and/or programming that might work for our client’s message, and what geography and mindset is our target audience in? Every media channel is a consideration.”

She still sees network TV and traditional radio as the “tried and tested” ways to reach an audience outside of digital media, especially during big events like the Super Bowl, or the local and national morning shows that people of all ages still watch every day.

Gehring said she still looks to TV for “appointment” programming like special events, news and sports — and radio as the first fragmented medium available by frequency. 

“We now look to partner both linear stations with their digital counterparts,” she said. “Radio also provides opportunity for local tie-ins and amplifications with their on-air talent and promotions, heard on either or both linear and digital platforms.”

As for the future, it seems likely we’ll see some consolidation of all these subscription-based video and audio outlets, as networks and streaming services look to centralize their access to consumers “and ultimately take a bigger piece of the advertisers’ media budgets,” Spatafora said.

But for all too many, human nature isn’t likely to change.

“People will continue to turn to their top three to five favorite channels to consume media, video or audio,” Gehring said. “But they will have many to choose from, and we will need to consider that full universe to reach them.”

“This is without a doubt the most exciting time to be in the communication business. It's full of innovation and creativity. No rules are set. I know this makes many uncomfortable. We are in the business of now." — Matt Smith, CEO, SmithGifford

Take Your Law Firm Marketing to a Higher Level, Literally

Since Covid eased, ad agencies have been taking their marketing thinking to a higher level, literally.  Around the world, creatives have rediscovered the lost art of billboard advertising.  And the result is more clever billboards than ever that grab consumers attention like never before.  But why the renaissance?  

Covid slammed the brakes on American roadways like no other event in history.  As Covid took hold across the country in April 2020, road traffic decreased by 45% according to the American Automobile Association (AAA.)

That decreased automobile traffic driving by billboards by nearly half too.  And weekly car traffic is the metric outdoor companies use to market their billboards.  The impact on the advertising industry in general was devastating but the billboard industry was hit especially hard.  

We, at Brantley Davis Ad Agency (BDAA), know. BDAA negotiates media across the U.S., including outdoor.  We saw the fallout firsthand as billboard rates plummeted and many boards sat empty.  

“With road traffic cut in half, we were able to negotiate billboard rates down to one third their usual cost.  Initially that was alluring but we had concerns about efficacy given the enormous decline in cars on the road.  However, the lower rates allowed us to add many more billboards to our campaigns, vastly increasing reach and overall impact.  That paid off for our law firm clients, especially those that agreed to long term deals, locking in lower rates even as traffic increased.”  Stated, BDAA CEO, Brantley Davis. 

Now billboard advertising is back.  According to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) revenue was up 38% in 3Q 2021.  And 88% of the top 100 out of home advertisers in the U.S. have increased their spending on billboards.  51% have more than doubled their spending on outdoor.  That’s leading to low billboard inventory in many markets and higher advertising rates. 

One segment of advertisers driving the billboard buying frenzy is personal injury lawyers. From coast to coast, roadways are papered with law firms promoting their services on billboards. Denver Colorado has been especially hard hit.  Jordan Levine runs one of the top personal injury law firms in Denver and he’s never seen the competition for billboards this fierce.  

“Since the pandemic eased and Denver started driving again, law firms have increased their spending across all advertising categories.  But the spike in competition for billboards is unprecedented.  We’re paying double what we used to pay for billboards and still losing them in bidding wars.”  

Levine is a client of BDAA and credits their ads with making him a household name in Denver.  

“Everywhere I go in Denver, people recognize me as the billboard guy thanks to Brantley.  It’s great from a marketing perspective but anonymity is certainly a thing of the past.”  

With the high demand for billboards and increased ad spending, one would think the effectiveness of billboards would not be in question.  However, there are still those out there who have concerns about the efficacy of billboard advertising.  To allay any apprehension, OAAA conducted two surveys in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.  Here’s what they found:

  • 45% more consumers are noticing OOH marketing materials than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • 69% of viewers of a digital street level ad immediately took an action related to that ad: looking it up in a search engine, visiting a brick-and-mortar store, or purchasing a product, for instance. 
  • 65% of viewers visited a brick-and-mortar store or restaurant after seeing an OOH ad that provided directions to the nearest store location. 

Survey results and top advertisers renewed commitment to outdoor advertising make a compelling case for billboards.  But Brantley Davis cautions advertisers to follow the rules for successful billboard advertising:

  1. LOCATION:  Choose billboards in high traffic locations where they will be seen.
  2. RIDE THE BOARDS:  Ride the boards and personally view each board to check for distance from the road, time to read the board, obstructions not shown in the outdoor company’s photos.
  3. 15 SHOWING MINIMUM:  Buying several very high impact boards can garner attention.  But many markets don’t offer those boards or they’re already sold out.  As a rule, you should buy a minimum of 15 boards per showing in a market.  
  4. NEGOTIATE:  Sure, the environment is highly competitive right now but in markets where multiple billboard companies are present, pit the company’s against each other in negotiations to get the best deal.  And note, billboard companies will substantially lower rates for long term deals.  We recommend a minimum of three months.  
  5. MAKE IT MEMORABLE:  Make the billboard memorable.  Don’t be afraid to take a chance.  A sense of humor is even apropo as long as that’s in line with your brand.  Make someone smile and the ensuing chemical reaction in the viewer's brain will keep you top of mind for a long time.  
  6. PART OF A CAMPAIGN:  Most billboard ads run in conjunction with a multimedia advertising campaign. For example, law firms typically run TV, CTV, PPC and even Radio in conjunction with their outdoor advertising. The billboards serve to extend reach and maintain brand awareness when consumers are out of home away from other forms of paid media.  
  • Many advertisers cram so many words on a billboard they fail to communicate anything.  Remember 8 words or less.
  • Emphasize the spokesperson’s face, not their body.  Make the face big so people recognize them.
  • Don’t be boring unless you have bought so many billboards in the market, your frequency becomes the message.  
  • Don’t let the billboard company lay out your billboard. Hire an ad agency to help you with concepts and designs.  If you select the right partner, they will produce much more impactful boards than you or the billboard company could ever create.

Legal Marketing: Attorney Ad Says Personal Injury Law IS About Money. Money to Rebuild Lives.

There are 273 million vehicles on America’s roads today.  Each year about 5 million are involved in accidents and 1.8 million Americans are injured.  Much to the insurance industry’s chagrin, a significant percentage of accident victims hire personal injury lawyers to represent their interests.  And for good reason.   According to the Insurance Research Council’s own internal data, car accident victims who hire lawyers average 3.5 times more financial restitution for their accident claims than those who don’t hire attorneys.   The data below from the 1999 IRC study illustrates the difference in payouts for specific injuries with and without an attorney.  The difference in compensation for catastrophic injuries could be substantially more with attorney representation as insurance companies have a much greater financial incentive to contest larger claims and payouts. 

**Compensation for injuries have increased substantially since this study was conducted in 1999, so dollar figures in this table would be much higher today due to inflation.

That’s why the insurance industry has disparaged personal injury lawyers for decades, attempting to discredit them by making patently spurious claims like “lawyers are all about money.”  Some of the malicious barbs have been repeated so long they’ve become bromides.  The irony of course is insurance companies make billion dollar profits, not personal injury attorneys.  Further,  insurance company’s interests revolve around generating higher profits for their Wall Street shareholders, while injury attorneys represent the interests of ordinary people without the means to stand up to wealthy corporate conglomerates.  

High dollar litigation between law firms and insurance companies has become more prevalent  lately as pandemic restrictions eased, more people took to the roads and U.S. motor vehicle fatalities increased.  U.S. traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021, with nearly 43,000 deaths.  And the trend is continuing.  According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, the first three months of 2022 were the deadliest in more than two decades.  Over 9,500 people were killed.  The rise in traffic deaths is attributed to more people on the roads driving at high speeds, under the influence and without seatbelts.  Less police officers on the road is also adding to the problem according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.  

With billions of dollars in accident victim compensation at stake, ​​Brantley Davis Ad Agency has launched a TV ad that turns the old “lawyers are all about money” bromide on its head, pointing out that the money lawyers obtain for accident victims helps pay for surgery, physical therapy, long term lifecare and to take care of families who lost a loved one due to a negligent driver.  While the money insurance companies save by not paying accident claims ends up in the pockets of wealthy Wall Street stock holders.  The ad starts out with an attorney proclaiming, “Some say personal injury law is all about the money.  Well they’re right.”  The commercial goes on to provide examples of how the money is used to help accident victims recover from damage caused by someone else's carelessness.  


Brantley Davis, President of Brantley Davis Ad Agency, commented “sure, many personal injury lawyers make a great living but that’s not why they became lawyers.  They chose the legal profession to help people rebuild their lives. And that takes money.”  Davis continued, “Is personal injury law about the money?  Damn right it is.” 

Legal Marketing: Are Regular People or Actors More Effective in TV Ads? Ask a Newborn Baby

What can newborn babies tell Ivy League educated grown ups about marketing?  Apparently a lot. According to numerous studies, newborn babies hold salient clues to the question that’s been debated by marketers for decades:  Should advertisers use real people or actors in TV ads?  

Over the last twenty years, more advertisers have been using real people in their commercials.  And there are substantial upsides.  Real people are cheaper than actors.  They won’t appear in ads for competitors.  Theoretically, real people are more authentic.  But in practice, are real people more compelling than actors?  Before we solicit the opinion of newborn babies, let’s examine a famous ad campaign that employed real people and delivered big results.  

By all accounts, Dove’s Real Beauty ad campaign launched in 2004 was a homerun.  Going against mainstream beauty standards, Dove featured average looking women in their ads alongside provocative headlines.  The ads were so different they stood out and created positive social impact, endearing the Dove brand to women and men alike.  Sales of Dove products jumped from $2.5 to $4 billion in the first ten years of the campaign.  It was an overwhelming success, spawning a plethora of real people ads for the next decade.  

A Dove advertisement from the legendary “Real Beauty” Campaign.

But was Dove’s “real people” success the rule or exception?  Brantley Davis, President of  Brantley Davis Ad Agency, has been marketing major law firms, automotive groups and political campaigns for thirty years and regularly uses real people and actors in TV ads.  He contends Dove’s success was the product of breakthrough thinking by creatives, not necessarily using real people.  “When the Dove campaign launched, very few major brands were using real people in ads.  Dove’s approach was refreshing.  It made the homogenous sea of ads featuring picture perfect supermodels seem superficial and phony.  And helped women appreciate themselves for who they were, blemishes and all.”  

Brantley Davis Ad Agency,  produces 300-500 TV ads each year.  And according to Davis, commercials featuring actors perform significantly better than real people ads.  “We’ve pulled real people ad campaigns off the air because they weren’t working.  And in each instance, as soon as we put ads featuring attractive actors back on the air, our metrics skyrocketed.”  

Davis isn’t alone in this view.  Real people ads have received their fair share of criticism and delivered lackluster results for many brands. The Chevy campaign featuring real people guffawing over Chevy cars and JD Power awards was panned by many as inauthentic.  The ads even inspired parody videos.  Maybe that’s a positive for Chevy?  As P.T. Barnum famously said, “just make sure you spell the name right.”   

While anecdotal,  these examples beg the question, why don’t real people ads work as well as commercials featuring actors?  Davis contends the answer can be traced back to basic human instinct.  “Countless scientific studies have demonstrated that humans pay attention to more attractive people versus less attractive.  And as a rule, telegenic actors are more attractive than real people.  Even babies less than six weeks old prefer more symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing faces. It’s nature driving our basic instinct to favor those more likely to ensure the survival of the human species.”  

According to the research, Davis is right.  Human infants prefer to look at physically attractive human faces when they are paired with physically less attractive human faces (Langlois, Roggman, Casey, Ritter, Rieser-Danner & Jenkins, 1987). Infant preference for attractive faces has been observed for a range of human faces, including Caucasian and African American adult female faces, adult male faces, and infant faces (Langlois, Ritter, Roggman & Vaughn, 1991; Samuels & Ewy, 1985; Van Duuren, Kendell-Scott & Stark, 2003). 

Davis also brought up the psychological theory of homophily many marketers use as a rationale for using real people in ads.  Homophily is the theory that people like people who are similar to them.  But Davis points out that there are far more factors at play in selling products than choosing friends.  Is a woman in the market for expensive perfume swayed more by an aspirational image or one more mundane?  Are people with more symmetrical faces more influential?  Ask a newborn baby.