Nonprofit Branding: Measure Your Media Cost & Marketing Results

The Research:  You can promote your mission on many media – billboards, TV, newspapers, pamphlets, skywriters, etc. Each has different impacts. And different costs. You can also burn money by using media with limited enduring impact on your brand. So, here is a look at the research that compares expense and results. (This is information you will want to print and keep for reference.)

The Key Yardstick: Of three basic media-impact metrics, number of  impressions is the most important. Definition: the number of times your brand elements (logo, positioning statement, etc.) are exposed to individual observers through a specific print, broadcast or other  communications medium (The other two metrics are Frequency and Reach. You can find the definitions in our Glossary.)

The Generalities: A quick peek at impressions, from low to high.

  • The lowest average Cost Per Impression is $00.002 (two hundredths of a penny) for a billboard advertisement and $00.003 for an ad on a webpage.
  • A bit more expensive are syndicated daily TV programs, prime time cable TV programs and promotional products. Each has an average cost of $00.005 per impression (five hundredths of a penny).
  • At the top of the scale you can pay an average of $00.058 (over half a penny) for one impression delivered by a commercial radio spot.

The Data Converted to Real-World Examples

You are juggling cost and results – Return on Investment. Let’s spend an imaginary dime. Then we’ll do some math to compare apples to apples – and find out how many impressions that ten cent investment will buy for your brand.

  • Average Billboard Ad – 10¢ will buy an average of 5,000 impressions.
  • Average Webpage Ad – 10¢ will buy an average of 3,333 impressions.
  • Average Daytime syndicated TV Spot – 10¢ will buy an average of 2,000 impressions.
  • Average Prime Time cable TV Spot – 10¢ will buy an average of 2,000 impressions.
  • Average Logo-imprinted Branding Product – 10¢ will buy an average of 2,000 impressions.
  • Average Prime Time network TV Spot – 10¢ will buy an average of 555 impressions.
  • Average Newspaper Ad – 10¢ will buy an average of 345 impressions.
  • Average Magazine Ad – 10¢ will buy an average of 222 impressions.
  • Average Radio Spot – 10¢ will buy an average of 172 impressions.


Your Strategy: Guided by an understanding that product quality plays a more important role in our world than it does in the commercial world, you must be sure your vendor deals only with the high-quality factories on behalf of your nonprofit. Nonprofits CANNOT afford to buy for price!

The Duration Bonus: Product cost and public impact are two essential measures to guide your marketing investment. Now consider the difference between transitory and lasting impressions.

A broadcast or print ad is noticed for mere seconds. An imprinted branding product does not have this limitation. As long as it is useful and attractive, it will create impressions for months rather than seconds, constantly spotlighting your brand to the public long after a commercial or advertisement is forgotten. (Check out “frequency” in our Glossary. It is another important marketing concept.)

The Personal Affinity Bonus: Moreover, displaying an affinity-product with your logo is a personal statement by the owner.

The product becomes a form of self-branding – a way to say “this is an organization I care about.” In addition, repeated exposure to your brand actually strengthens the owner’s affinity. So, while a product with your logo is generating impressions within the general public, it is also enhancing the owner’s personal bond with your mission.

The Conclusion: Nothing puts your mission in front of more people, more often, more positively, and with less cost per impression, than high-quality products imprinted with your logo.

Imprinted branding products have enormous bang for the buck. Compared with commercial media, they can be the most cost-effective way to apply a persuasive and lasting spotlight to a nonprofit brand.


SOURCES AND RAW DATA: The information cited in this blog post was produced by the Nielsen broadcast ratings service, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, the Advertising Specialty Institute and the trade journal AdAge Online.

Following are the cost per impression for various media based on the assumptions of average cost per unit of media purchased.

  • Average Billboard Ad – $00.002
  • Average Webpage Ad – $00.003
  • Average Syndicated Daytime TV Spot – $00.005
  • Average Cable Prime Time TV Spot –$00.005
  • Average Promotional Product – $00.005
  • Average Prime Time TV Spot -$00.018
  • Average Newspaper Ad – $00.029
  • Average Magazine Ad – $00.045
  • Average Radio Spot – $00.058


One thought on “Nonprofit Branding: Measure Your Media Cost & Marketing Results

  1. Good analysis. One caveat: make sure the “impressions” are reaching the target audience. Billboard ads in Hawaii promoting igloos would be meaningless to the population receiving the info. No matter how affordable…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *