Online advertising refers to the practice of placing advertisements on the Internet. This can be done through a variety of mediums, such as search engines, social media platforms, websites, and mobile apps.
Online Advertising – Optimise your Company’s Exposure
Online advertising allows businesses to reach a larger audience than traditional advertising methods, as it can be targeted to specific demographics and users can interact with it in real time. There are several different types of online advertising, including pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, display advertising, and social media advertising.
Since its early conception as a source of information, the internet has morphed in to, almost completely, an advertising medium. Producers of internet content would argue that this is the cost of a ‘free’ internet. That’s difficult to argue with, although it inevitably means you and I – the every-day internet users – are endlessly bombarded with adverts.
My approach to web advertising it to target as much as possible. The last thing I want to do is spend/waste money trying to advertise to people who aren’t likely to be interested in whatever it is I’m attempting to sell. My goal with almost any advertising campaign is to streamline ads and narrow their exposure only to those who are most likely to be iterested.
There are literally hundreds of different types and variations of advertising ‘models’ available online today. Some are clearly better than others and not all methods will be applicable or useful to your business.
Briefly, most ad campaigns fall under the following categories: Search ads (ads that appear at the top or bottom of a search engine results pages), Display ads (ads that appear on websites or apps and are typically in the form of banner ads), Social media ads (ads that appear on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn), Email marketing (sending promotional emails to a list of subscribers).
A little more detail on advertising campaign types…
Types of Online Advertising
The internet (very broadly speaking) offers a wide range of options for adverting online. Different methods of online advertising will produce very different returns and costs can vary wildly. A post on Facebook is free and is advertising, it just won’t reach too many people. Facebook don’t shout about it, but most independent analysis estimates that a single post will reach around 4% of the people who follow your Facebook business page. Just 4%. Not many. But, it’s free!
My recommendation… pay for advertising. You’ve invested time and money in to your online venture, it would be a waste to just leave it there, unnoticed and lonely. I can’t stress how important it is to ‘push’ potential customers, client or guests to your website.
Search Engine Adverts – Pay per Click (PPC)
‘Pay per click’ is bidding on adverts appearing in Google’s search results (SERP) when a person searches for a keyword or phrase. Advertisers bid on keywords that they think users will search for, and the ads are targeted to those searches. There are, of course, other search engines, like Bing, but Google is, by far, the biggest and most used. This tends to be the most expensive form of internet advertising, but if properly implemented, it can be the most important form of advertising you will use.
I have (or have had) clients who spend upwards of €50 per day on PPC with Google, but all have said the same, it works. If the profit on sales generated by the ads outweighs the cost of the ads, they are worth it.
Internet Display Adverts
These are my favourite. You’ve very likely seen them… the ads on web pages you might visit. This website, for example, https://www.irishmirror.ie/, shows adverts from Google’s ad system. Instead of bidding for the top space on search results, these adverts are bought by the thousand. We tell Google that we’ll pay, for example, a maximum of €5 to show 1,000 adverts, within a specified geographic area, to people who have shown interest in similar business to yours. They are usually considerably less expensive than PPC ads and serve both as click generators and as ‘brand awareness’ ads, ie. you company name is seen, reinforcing your brand.
I also frequently use this type of ad for “remarketing”. That is, we use PPC to generate new visitors, record them, then show them adverts on the display network, because we know they’ve visited you before. It’s a ‘double-whammy’ approach to advertising. We know they’ve already shown interest, so we make sure you’re not forgotten!
It’s possible to start this type of campaign for just pennies per day (although a serious campaign would justify a larger spend).
Social Media Advertising
I’m in two minds about social media ads. It’s true, sites like Facebook and Instagram are INCREDIBLY popular, and can certainly increase your company’s public profile, but my experience tells me that this kind of advertising tends to work better with people who already know you, rather than bringing in new customers, clients of guests.
I would certainly recommend a regular budget for these ads, but keep it small. I’m not 100% convinced they warrant significant spending.
Over the last ten years, or so, email has becoming less relevant and less effective, with many – specifically younger – people not having email addresses at all. instead preferring social media platforms and chat apps to communicate. The huge amounts of email abuse – spam, junk, etc. – have also played a major part in email’s decline.
That said, email is still very much a viable means of advertising. Most email campaigns will be seen by around 30% to 40% of recipients. There are a number of reasons for this, but still, if you have 1,000 people on your mailing list, you’re still advertising to between 300 and 400 possible customers/clients/guests. At those numbers, email campaigns can be free, too. ‘Seems like a ‘no-brainer’ to me.
Once your mailing list grows to some number of thousands, you will end up paying for it, but with sensible and regular use of email campaigns, they are, most definitely, worth the effort and the cost.
I’ve used a number of bulk email services over the years and, in my experience, MailChimp is the most effective. They’re not the cheapest, by any means, but the service is worth it. Read more about MailChimp.
Targeting your Advertising and Minimising Costs
Perhaps the most useful of online advertising is the ability to target very specific groups of people.
Managing Ongoing Advertising Budgets
Unlike conventional advertising in newspapers and magazines, online advertising can be changed, modified and updated frequently – and it’s a very good idea to do just that.