While reading the other day on my phone, I saw this ad and it made me chuckle: I could become a true Scottish Lord for under $50!

Display Ad Review: Become a Lord for .95!

So, this ad stands out in a few ways:

  • First, it is being displayed on a page which is designed in a way so that the right portion of the ad doesn’t show up on the screen! The person running their ad account should see their display report, and it’s a best practice to review each site to ensure it’s brand safe but not just that–that the ad even appears in a way that it is visible on the screen. Lots of companies don’t do this because it is more time-intensive, but it is worth doing if you’re able to, to avoid problems like these.
  • Second, an important but easily forgotten component of marketing is pricing: marketing is embedded into your price. Let’s apply that there. There’s no way a real Lordship could sell for $50; so the low price, while signalling that it is affordable, also signals it is fake. Imagine the ad said that you can buy a Lordship starting for $1.1 million — now that would sound believable! In fact, I think this ad is my few favorite example of how the price itself IS the marketing.
  • Third, the “Buy 1, get 1 free” line doubles down on the price point. That makes it even more transparent that you’re getting a meaningless piece of paper. The advertising strategy here has to be to go for the lowest end ads. But the incredible thing is: this ad exists; which means it’s likely profitable; which means people are likely buying it.
  • Fourth, this ad is a pure text ad and buying a title feels like the almost textbook use case for using an image ad. Don’t you want to imagine the castle you’ll be getting? The land you apparently get? The fact that they merely used a text ad here implies that not only is the product cheap–their ad agency is, as well!
  • Fourth, now let’s think about their targeting. They targeted me on a page about Jewish prayers–which feels like it is the precise opposite target for someone who might want to buy a title. “These people oppressed you long ago; now become one of them!” If that were indeed their strategy, they need to be more open and direct about it. But imagine they weren’t using on-page targeting but instead demographic targeting: well, you, dear reader, likely know nothing about me, but I’m the last person on earth who might want a fake Scottish title; probably not even a real one. The interesting question, however, is what about my Internet usage or demographics made Google suspect that I might want it.

But most ads have something going for it. Let’s see what might work about this ad:

  • The market is one I happen to find interesting. I love selling pieces of paper with titles and certifications. What is a university degree if not a piece of paper with a title on it? Of course, much more expensive than the Scottish Northern Title and you have to go through more formalities (live in a dorm for four years and not-fail a certain number of classes) but, you get what you pay for, and every certification has a different price. In fact, it’s even almost inspiring to me: I wonder what other pieces of paper I could sell for $50, that are printed nicely and have the person’s name on it? Now that is my homework for myself.
  • It is simple, clear, and direct. You know what you’re getting (and you know it is fake). This is as clear as you can get without outright saying it’s just a fake piece of paper. And, unfortunately, I’ve found many times that simple, clear and direct ads almost always win out over their more subtle cousins.

All taken together… nice try, Northern Titles. It’s a bit absurd, and half of me hates you for actually trying to do this, and half of me is jealous. Good luck and let us know how it goes!