Internet Advertising comes in several forms, and is by far the fastest growing type of advertising medium in terms of a dollars spent in the U.S.
This is not surprising as more of our media time (entertainment, news, research, opinion) moves from offline to online delivery. On the one hand, many of us seek the opportunity to escape advertising, and yet, we are willing to consume a great deal of it because it is a popular way for content publishers to monetize their content. Love your search engine capability? Funded by advertising. Love YouTube videos? Funded by Advertising. Can’t get enough Facebook, Twitter, Pintarest, etc.? (Mostly) funded by advertising.
As marketers, this good news, particularly for small and medium sized businesses. Not so long ago, the only media were mass media, and only big brands could afford to buy advertising.
But internet technology has made it possible to adjust the advertising shown to any given member of an audience to their particular interest, geography, and demographics. So even those of us without $M+ advertising budgets can get the word out about our great products and services to the people who might buy them.
Here are just some of the ways you can do digital advertising online today:
Search Engine Advertising (“PPC”)
One of the earliest forms of digital advertising, search engine advertising, is familiar to most of us. Searching the web for products, services, restaurants, legal advice, and millions of other things is woven into the fabric of most American’s lives today. And virtually each time you do a search for a product or service, you frequently see “Paid” or “Advertising” results place prominently on the results page. This is in fact how the search engines monetize the incredible investments they make in their technology.
Marketers can sign up for an account with a search engine, create their ads, set a budget and audience characteristics, and they can be found online in a matter of hours, or even minutes.
This type of advertising is often referred to as “PPC” advertising because of its most common pricing model, “pay per click.” In a PPC model, the advertiser does not actually pay for running their advertisements until someone clicks on it. This is particularly attractive to small and medium sized businesses, since their advertising spend dollars are directly related to people showing actual interest in their advertised goods or services.
The alternative pricing is called “cost per thousand” (abbreviated “CPM” where the “M” is from the French “mille” or “thousand”). In this model, the advertiser pays for the number of times their advertisement gets seen, whether anyone clicks on it, or not. This can be valuable for building brand recognition and broadcasting a message to a large number of people.
Search advertising, and particularly in the PPC model, is very effective for getting a new product or company found quickly, and gathering a ton of data about the behaviors of people who click on the ads, go to the linked website and hopefully, buy the product or service.
The downside to search advertising is that it can be expensive. While there is virtually no minimum commitment, the cost of this mechanism is really dictated by the number of people searching for what you have, and the number and skill of competitors who are trying to attract those same potential buyers. If everything else is equal, the advertiser willing spend more, will get more clicks/visits/sales.
But everything is rarely equal. WSI can help you with PPC advertising by assisting you by determining the best keyword search phrases to target, setting an appropriate budget, developing an effective landing page, using the search engine ad platforms to target your audiences, and connecting your ads with effective landing pages that convert visitors to customers.
Display advertising is akin to the “traditional” media like broadcast TV, radio, and print, where your consumption of content is interrupted with paid messaging. You often see display ads on news sites, or other publishers with large audiences. And like traditional offline media, the pricing is generally tied to CPM models where the advertiser is paying for the number of impressions (views) their ad gets.
The reason that display advertising is so valuable is that potential customers are online “surfing” and otherwise consuming information (in “mass quantities” as Coneheads would say) whether they are looking to buy a particular product, or finding a place to buy that product. So Display Advertising is particularly valuable for creating awareness. If you’ve invented a great widget, or packaged something in a unique and valuable way, you have to make potential buyers aware of it before they can even know to search for it.
But even with the broader goal of awareness, the state of the art of display advertising is still superior to its offline cousins because the publisher has the opportunity to know how a particular visitor came to their site, when, where else they have visited on the internet, and what they have recently searched for. With all these tools, the publisher is then able to display the most valuable ads to their audience based on individual visitor characteristics, and not rely solely on the advertiser to buy a huge block of visible space on their content. This is a win-win-win for the publisher who makes their audience happier with relevant ads, the consumer who sees more relevant ads, and the advertiser who reaches a more relevant audience.
In the last few years, a new wrinkle has been added called retargeting. What happens with retargeting is that a history of a web surfer or searcher’s visits can be used to further focus the ads presented to them based on the sites they have been to. So for instance, if you have searched for a model of car – say a Chevrolet – and later go to read some local news on a news publisher’s website, that publisher can find out that you’ve been to a Chevrolet site, and see if they have a local dealer who is advertising. The consumer may have just been researching the model without much thought to visiting a local dealer, but now in a familiar ad space, they are reminded that there is a Chevy dealer in their community, and they have some of the cool new models in the showroom, and with discount prices.
Another win-win-win for publisher, consumer, and advertiser. We are all connecting relevant things through the retargeting mechanism.
Social Media Advertising
One of the fastest growing forms of digital advertising is that found on social media. The enormous adoption of social media is well known, and advertising is the main way in which the providers of the social platforms (Facebook, or Twitter for example) can monetize their investment.
What is particularly valuable for advertisers is the wealth of information the social media ad platform can have about their users. They know what kinds of posts each user clicks on, or “likes.” They know relationship status, gender, and other factors based on the profiles and the content they consume.
So as an advertiser, you can target your advertising budget more directly at audiences who need to become aware of your goods and services.
Again, WSI can help you create the right ads, and target the right audiences for all forms of digital advertising, and make you more effective with your online advertising.