Which Digital Advertising Program is Right for Me?

Tom earned his master’s in IMC from WVU and his bachelor’s in public relations from Utica College of Syracuse University. He joined the Site-Seeker team in 2013 as an account manager.

The advent of the Internet has opened up so many digital doors to marketers today. And at the same time, many of these opportunities are available to small business owners at affordable rates. From big sites like Amazon to your local newspaper’s website, you just need to know what’s available and what you’re doing.

I’ll admit it. It can be a little intimidating to read the many blog posts out there on online advertising, leading you to become quickly overwhelmed. So I’m here to help you figure out which advertising platforms might work best for you based on your specific situation.

You goal and target audience, working in unison, will be the driving force behind the decisions you make in the advertising world. The platform. The filters. The spend. The design. The ad copy. Everything. So let’s tackle things this way. I’ll suggest a goal and then present you with the potential solution that may fit your needs.

First, let’s look at your options. When we talk about digital or online advertising, there are so many today. Some have their own platforms where you would create an account, sets up payment details and manages ads within. For others, you may use a third party tool or work through an ad representative. Though there are hundreds (if not hundreds of thousands if you count individual websites) of different advertising opportunities, here are the main options that most marketers might suggest today:

  • Google Adwords
  • Yahoo/Bing Ads
  • YouTube Ads
  • Amazon Ads
  • Mobile App Ads
  • Social Media Ads
  • Game Platform and In-Game Mobile Ads
  • Remarketing Ads
  • Audio Streaming Ads
  • Video Streaming Ads
  • Email Content Ads/Gmail Ads
  • Website Banners
  • Native Advertising/Sponsored Content

Now let’s look at instances where some of the above might come into play…

Goal: I have a B2B product or service and a very niche clientele. I want to drive them to my website so they can learn more and hopefully convert. A conversion to me would be a phone call, an email link click, or a request for more information through a form.

You Might Want to Consider: Google AdWords, Yahoo/Bing Ads
I recommend Google AdWords to most clients, only because so many audiences use Google, it is extremely flexible, has any type of budget options, and you can be as niche as you want. For B2B companies, this is often the best place to start. Because when seeking a vendor, product or service, the first phase of research almost always starts with a Google search. AdWords is a great way to beat the organic results to the punch and appear higher and with more options (call extension, site links, ratings, etc).

Consider different dynamics to make sure you are reaching that specific audience like time of day, desktop vs mobile, location, and search vs display. Although it takes some set-up, once you’ve found your footing and have identified the best keywords for an ideal budget, AdWords can be a nice way to consistently bring in qualified visitors, unaffected by the other marketing activities taking place within your mix.

Goal: I’m looking to target young teens. And want to raise awareness for my product. It’s a relatively new product so I just want to introduce it to them right now. They likely can’t buy it themselves but having them know it (and eventually recognize it), will lead to having a parent purchase later on.

You Might Want to Consider: Audio Ads, YouTube Ads, In-Game Ads
Today’s teens (the plural generation) use the Internet very differently than others. Even different than their older siblings who are often Milliennials (which there is tons of research out there on!). These youngsters are addicted to their smartphones and tablets (88% have them), do not use email or Facebook, and are very comfortable with any and all new technology that comes out. SnapChat and Instagram are king and some of the most popular activities include music streaming and gaming. Because of this, you might want to consider audio ads on platforms like Spotify or Pandora. Make sure you target by location or music genres to get in front of the right teen listeners. Consider today’s popular musicians.

Also, don’t pass on YouTube ads, with placement before today’s popular music tracks. It might be disruptive to the listener but, over time, the brand/product becomes recognizable. And don’t forget about platforms like Xbox, PS4 and games on mobile devices. Each of these offer advertising options to have ads play during breaks or right within the games themselves. Gaming is the single most popular activity for teens, shared by both males and females. And gaming ads is very hot right now. In fact, last year, Zynga (FarmVille, Words with Friends, Draw Something) generated more than $153 million in revenue!

Goal: You are a local business owner. You’ve had it with TV and radio ads, they just aren’t working for you and they are expensive. You want to remind your local consumers who you are, what you do, and get them to come in for a visit to eventually drive in-store sales.

You Might Want to Consider: Local Mobile App Ads
Of all time spent on a mobile devices, 89% of it is spent in a mobile app (the remaining 11% is on the mobile web). This has continued to increase each year. First, you need to identify your audience and understand what type of apps they use. Bleacher Report? Hulu Plus? Yelp? Knowing the most popular apps among your target audience is a great starting point. By using a major ad platform like InMobi or AdMob, you can set-ups ads, select your targeting features (age, demographics, location, apps) and manage ads from one interface. These can be run similar to Google AdWords and are based on a pay-per-click (PPC) model.

Don’t forgot about local apps or apps that offer reviews like Yelp or UrbanSpoon (depending on your industry). These focus strongly on local web searches and can be a great avenue to get in front of people that are just about ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. Mobile apps are used by a lot of people, so without filtering the right audience, you will end up spending a lot of time and money with no results. Target like crazy.

Goal: You only care about one thing: leads. You get a substantial amount of people to your website but feel that your return-visitor numbers are low. You are a B2B company but the buying cycle is relatively short, they often purchase on the second visit. You need to get them to come back and move beyond the research phase to the consideration phase, and help get them to pull the trigger.

You Might Want to Consider: Remarketing Ads
Have you ever shopped for a product on Amazon. Then, like two days later, you saw the same product being featured in an ad on Facebook? Remarketing uses cookies to track you and recalls different web pages that you’ve visited in the past. By doing so, advertisers can serve up extremely targeted ads to you. By using remarketing for your website, you can catch the attention of people who have already visited your site.

Use a platform like Google AdWords, AdRoll or Multiview and manage your ads for an audience that’s already beyond the awareness phase and in the midst of decision-making. Be strategic with your visuals and ad copy and consider an offer or key selling point to drive them back to your site for a purchase. Remarketing generally sees high click thru rates at an affordable cost, since you are only advertising to folks who already know who you are. You can even track on a page-by-page level so your ads can be specific to the products/services they are genuinely interested in.

Goal: I blog for my company and want my content to be viewed by more qualified people. I put a lot of time into writing and the purpose is to help with my SEO efforts, appear in more search results, and generate more traffic. I’m consistent but I’m not seeing the results I want. I want more views.

You Might Want to Consider: Social Media Ads, Sponsored Content, Email Content Ads

Let me guess. You blog like crazy. Pour hours of blood, sweat and tears into your posts. You then check your Google Analytics and your post gets viewed by like 25 people. Been there, done that. It can be very hard to develop a strong blog following. Of course, great content, published on a consistent basis is the first step. And don’t forget about working it into other marketing activities like email marketing or lead nurturing. But sometimes you can use a little advertising to give you an extra boost. Set-up social media ads to promote the posts that feature your blog content. Make sure you apply the right filters so you are getting those posts in front of the right people (consider influencer lists!). Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can all be used to target qualified people –  consider industry, group, professional status, age, geography, etc.

Secondly, think of trade publications that your target audience reads often. Ask if they have sponsored content opportunities. Supply them with your blog post and for a fee they will run it on their site, getting much more shares and views and engagements than it would on your own company website. Or, see if you can agree to a deal where they feature your blog post in their next email campaign. It will lead to more views by the right people.