Marketing spend: competitive intelligence about offline advertising

Competitive analysis often requires finding examples of advertising creatives, to back up research on marketing spend. While digital is pretty well catered for, because online ads are so easy to collect, it is not always obvious where to find examples of offline creatives. There are subscription databases that make some of this information available but they are expensive. Primary research is possible for current advertising - travel the country buying up local publications, taking photos of local outdoor advertising and so on. Again, expensive, impractical and often unnecessary where only illustrative examples are needed. Luckily, there are ways of finding some of this information online.

  • Radio advertising. RadioAds is an archive of transcripts of US radio ads. Officially only accessible from the US, much of its content turns up on Google as cached pages. Thus, for example, this radio ad from Volvo, with details of the radio stations on which it appears, and conveniently for keyword/cloud analysis, a transcript:
    • The Volvo Model Year-end sales event is year. For a limited time, buy any new Volvo and get APRs as low as zero percent for up to 6 years and our best in-class Safe and Secure Coverage Plan. That's 5 years of warranty, 5 years of scheduled maintenance [ ... etc ... ].
    • Print advertising. Many newspapers have digital versions that look exactly like their print versions. Websites such as MyDigitalNewspaper and PressDisplay aggregate these digital versions (they are often the provider of the enabling technology). This includes, for the most part, exact replicas of the ads in the print version, for example:
  • Outdoor advertising. Finding online examples of outdoor advertising is more opportunistic, as there is not a dedicated database. Some of the outdoor media owners, as well as industry bodies, have showcases which may be relevant, for example the Outdoor Media Centre:
  • Occasionally, Flickr can have useful examples of outdoor advertising.
  • Television advertising. The first port of call for TV ads should be the long established visit4info, followed by useful sites such as AdForum. Nationally-focused archives of television advertising also exist, such as TellyAds for the UK and USATvAds for the US.

And honourable mention across categories goes to BestAdsonTV, which includes outdoor, radio, print and online as well as TV.