What do you think of when you hear online advertising?

Probably this:

Would you say that online ads are enjoyable?

Most of us, after seeing a site like this, would probably say no:

Yes, most are annoying as hell. (Damn you YouTube and your forced ads before the videos!)

We, as society, are conditioned to think that advertising is something you use to sell stuff.

Before you get all annoyed at this post and why even I bothered writing this, let me ask you a question.


What is advertising, really?

It’s just a form of communication: between those who have something, and those who need that something.

People assume advertising is only useful for people who have something to sell: and it’s not.

Yes, as an online marketer / growth hacker, I use online advertising a lot.

But I use it for personal stuff too.

Strange, you say? Au contraire. It can be used for everyday things quite effectively.

Here are some examples.


1) Find your lost dog, friend, elderly parent, patient, etc.

Ever lose a dog?

If you have, it has to be one of the most upsetting moments in your life.

In fact, according to PETA, 6 to 8 million (and growing number of ) dogs and cats enter the shelters every year, with a big chunk coming from those that are lost from their owners.

When I lost my dog, on top of doing the usual flyers, posters, and knocking on doors, I took out ads on craigslist, Facebook, and Google to find my dog.

Ads were so effective that within 2 days, I was reunited my dog.

And the kicker?

It was a NHL hockey team player Joe Pavelski of San Jose Sharks who found my dog.

Now, you can take this idea and extend it even further.

Have an elderly parent or patient with Alzheimer’s?

Have a friend or family member who you’ve lost touch with and isn’t on Facebook , Linkedin, or some social network?

Looking for a lost child?

Possibilities are limitless.

Economics:  Flyer Ads vs. Online ads


When I printed 200 flyers and 400 postcards (using the el-cheapo method), I spent about $300 in my local office supply store (mostly in prints, tape, markers, etc.). On top of that, I spent 3 hours prepping them.

Online ads:

With online advertising, I spent about $100 bucks and about 15 minutes in total. And no trees were killed.

But most importantly, which one actually worked? Online advertising.

As an added bonus, a celebrity found my dog, which gave me pseudo-fame in my town for a good 2 weeks.

2) Get a date

Single? Need a date?

If you’re a guy and have tried online dating, you know it’s a pure numbers game.

And if you’re an average man, the odds are that you probably want to go out with pretty women. Lots of them.

Unfortunately, there’s not enough time in a day nor the creativity for you to strike a conversation with a couple of women.

So wouldn’t it be great if you were on “top” of the page of every woman you wanted to meet?

But what would motivate a online dating company to promote you?

Yeap – cold hard cash, a.k.a. advertising.

Most advertisers use advertising on dating sites to promote things like other paid dating sites, weight loss products (shockingly enough, men like slim women), and “how to pick up women” products (yes, men are stupid enough to buy this stuff).

Imagine, if your face showed up with a sweet message on every single girl in 15 mile radius of where you live,.. your inbox would be jam packed every morning.

Yeah, this guy did. Why not you?

Economics: Traditional messaging vs. Online ads

Traditional messaging:

Suppose you make $25/hour, and spend 1 hour a day. And you send 10 messages a day.

In a month, that’s 30 hours ( $750 in time cost ) and 300 messages.

Suppose you get 1 in 10 to reply back to you. That’s 30 messages.

That’s 30 messages / 30 hours or 1 message per hour, at cost of $750 / 30 = $25 per message.

Online ads:

Now, suppose you use online advertising. (I’m going to use online advertising jargon, so bear with me. These numbers are actually based on real dating advertising experiments I’ve done)

Imagine you “advertise” yourself for $750 bucks, at cost of $0.50 CPM (cost per mills, or thousand impressions).

That’s 1.5 MILLION impressions of your face.  Even if they clicked on your devilish charming face at rate of 1 in 1000 (i.e. 0.1% click through rate (CTR)), that’s 1500 views.

Remember I said if 1 in 10 reply to you? That would be 150 messages at cost of $750 / 150 = $5 per message.

But don’t focus on the cost per message.. the REAL benefit is that 1) you didn’t have to start the conversation and 2) you can potentially get 5 TIMES the number of messages.


Now, before you do this, know that just because you have a dashing look doesn’t mean you’re going to get tons of messages.

If you write on your profile something like:

  1. ladies, I will take anything
  2. I’m looking for a sugar mama
  3. if you’re looking for a quick fling, I am your man

… ain’t no amount of advertising going to work.

You still have to be a “marketer” and understand how storytelling works, so that you can attract your potential date with the power of your words.

It’s the power of copywriting for daters. If you master it, you can really get tons of dates and heck, even create businesses.

Now, some might say this is manipulative, or deceptive.

Come on, really? Are those people telling me that what they say on a first date is going to be the same stuff they might be saying to their ex’s that they never want to see ever again?

No, it’s called persona and putting your best foot forward.

3) Fight for a cause

Ok, on a more serious note, advertising can be used to do awesomely amazing things.

If you don’t know, 2012 US presidential election online ad spend exceeded 7x that of 2008:

(See full infographic)

Why? Because it works.

As you can tell from my point #1, i love dogs.

I love them so much that I helped a pet rescue from the other side of the world that I’ve never met raise over $8k USD in donations in 2 weeks.

Nonprofits, political organizations, or whatever cause or charity you may support is probably tapping into the power of online advertising to raise money, spread awareness, recruit volunteers, and of course, get new supporters.

So why not you and the stuff YOU believe in?

According to a 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics report , over 64 million Americans volunteered in 2012. That’s one in five, and not including those who are actually registered. Now, that’s a lot of people who care about something.

So why not tap into the power of online advertising to, say,

  1. get more supporters to attend a local fundraising event like bake sale, yard sale, car wash, etc.
  2. get more email signups so you can tell them about future rallies or crowdfunding campaigns
  3. spread awareness about some new public policy that affects their constituents

(And if you need help, contact me. I’d be MORE than happy to help you, or at least point you in the right direction if I can’t, with your cause.)


As father of advertising David Ogilvy said, “advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things”. Advertising is just a  way to give power to your message. Got a message to spread? Try it out. (Just like my message about online marketing in my newsletter, which you should join).

Have you ever seen any other crazy stuff people have tried with advertising? Would love to find out what you know. Please share with the community in the comment box.