TV advertising and effective targeting

I have always thought that media planners do a reasonably good job of geographical targeting for ads.   Now, I am not a big fan of 99% of the ads on TV and have two DVR’s to ensure my ad viewing is minimal.   The two ads I will mention below were not bad – they got my attention but I could not convert so was that a waste?

I always thought it was pretty easy – you want your ad to show in Hartford you simply buy the Hartford geography and your ad is shown within the fixed parameters of the local TV station signals.  I realize there is a lot of overlap but the following are two examples of where I think the planners have made a mistake.  I don’t even know how they company would know other than looking at a report to see what areas they are covering.  How can problems like this occur?

Joe’s Crab Shack

I ate at one of these restaurants for lunch once when I was in Orlando for a meeting with Disney.  The food was good and it had a nice atmosphere.   A few months ago I was watching some local TV show and saw their commercial.  Since they were advertising in Hartford I assumed that they may be opening a restaurant in the area and it might be a good place for a weekend lunch with the family.  I went to the site and put in my zip code and got the following:

No locations within 100 miles!  What? Then why am I seeing the ad in Hartford?  Maybe they assume people from Hartford travel and if they have seen the ad they will remember?  I can possibly buy that since when Motoko and I were in San Francisco recently went to the wharf for a seafood lunch and I saw their sign and knew who they were.  Unfortunately, when I am in the wharf in San Francisco the last place I want to eat is a chain store full of unknowing tourists.

Stein Mart

They had a good ad – large selection and inexpensive.  My wife told me she wanted to go to their store this past weekend.  She thought it was over on the the street with all of the other box stores.   I did not mind since the big mall is near the local shooting range and gun store so I had my excuse to stop in.  We headed over and turns out that was not them.  It was a different store.  We pulled out our iPhones and checked to see where it was.  They had a locator on the first page and we learned the closest to us was near Boston nearly 100 miles away.  We looked at each other and wondered why they were advertising in Hartford if the nearest store was about 100 miles away.


What I found interesting is that the default for their map tool was 10 miles.  I had to widen it to 100 miles to get any store to show up. I guess they know people will not drive that far to visit a store – unless it is a Cabela’s or Bass Pro shop which people typically will drive 100 miles to visit.

The reality is in both cases the ads worked.  They got our attention and created an interest to attend.  In either case, without seeing the ad there would not have been a stimuli to even take the next step.  In both cases we immediately went to the web to look for a local store.  Had they been near we would have visited and become customers.

Not sure what the cost for these ads were but they were effective in gaining attention but equally frustrating since we could not act on the interest.
The big question I have is it a waste to show TV ads in an area where you don’t have a store or have products not conducive to online shopping?