As someone responsible for the success of a website,
you likely know that Internet-based advertising – in all its
variety – remains the most measurable means to raise
awareness, encourage repeat visits and lest we forget,
generate sales (conversions). That’s not to say it’s simple.
The sheer number of channels, destinations, platforms
and devices that must be considered when advertising a
business and its products or services make it a daunting
task for any enterprise.
What is often lacking in the ongoing, and, albeit,
highly important conversation surrounding Internet
advertising is some background (an overview if you
will) of the available opportunities, techniques and
tactics employed today by companies both large and
small and across all verticals.
Without question, the ultimate objective of Internet
advertising is to increase the likelihood of success
for our digital enterprises, but only advertisers
that focus on maximizing performance and leveraging
the best available technologies can ever make it
CHALLENGED IN THE GOLDEN AGE
First impressions matter in the digital realm. In online
advertising, it’s the moment when a potential
customer encounters a brand being promoted on the
search results page, through a display (banner) advertisement
or even in the form of a recommendation
(i.e. by an affiliate). The moment is undeniably
an important one. Billions of these individual interactions
with consumers take place every day. The
challenge, however, is not in
advertising everywhere users are, but advertising
where and how the most significant impact is provided.
To do that, enterprises need to advertise the
“I know half my advertising works; I just don’t
know which half...” That’s the famous adage that has
defined advertising for decades, until the advent of
the Internet, of course. In this golden age, advertisers
and marketers have more information available
than ever before on what works, what doesn’t, and
most importantly, what can be improved (as well as
what should be avoided). That’s a rather epic shift.
Monitor Ad Opportunities and Threats
Where there is money made (or spent) there is seemingly always a rogue to ruin the day. The Internet advertising industry is under a near constant threat — from privacy issues related to behavioral
advertising to malware, rogue affiliates and more. Yet, there still remains immense opportunity when
you know what to do and where to look. Stay up to date on important occurrences with Website Magazine’s
Internet Advertising Channel.
Once the dominion of those most creative
among us, in the Web economy, advertising has
changed. We no longer rely exclusively on those that
are the most artistic or those that have an innate understanding
of human motivation and further the
human condition (sorry all you aspiring Don Drapers).
Instead, our attention is focused “data” and understanding
of past behavior and intent, and we are
rigidly committed to performance. Advertising has
changed and those that are educated on and committed
to promoting their enterprises in today’s dynamic
digital ad landscape are poised to outperform
competitors, both large and small.
An exploration of the current landscape of Internet
advertising opportunities and methods, and some formal guidance to do so efficiently and effectively,
can have any Web business advertising the Internet
way. Let’s begin by exploring what is arguably
the most important and well-utilized advertising approach
in the digital ecosystem today — paid search.
Paid search (CPC or PPC) advertising has been
available to those interested in promoting their website
for well over a decade. Many Web professionals
and Internet advertising workers have grown up
with search-based advertising and for many it is all
they know or all they care to know; the reason?
When done right, it is the best and most controllable
driver of quality traffic to a website.
What differentiates search-based advertising
from other methods is that it depends greatly on the
level of user interest and the selection of keywords
related to that interest. When a consumer enters a
query into a search engine, an auction of sort takes
place. In the past, those with the highest bid appeared
in the first position of the results pages, but
nowadays, many other factors come into play —
most notably some variation on the concept of
Unfortunately for us, how networks determine
quality score is, for all intents and purposes, locked
away in a black box, several important variables
have been observed over time. Outside of the
bid placed by an advertiser per keyword and their allotted budget, the relevance of that keyword to the
landing page where a user/searcher ends up is crucial.
Since “performance” is fundamental to advertising the
“Internet way,” count on the click-through rate (CTR)
also playing a significant role.
However, today’s search-based advertising isn’t the
same as that of yesteryear. As the Web evolves, so does
the sophistication of the premier platforms. The takeaway
from these variables is that effective search-based
advertising does not stop at the selection of appropriate
keywords. Landing page optimization and copywriting
skills are clearly tied to the performance of search-based
ad campaigns, so advertisers need to invest as much (if
not more) in them to remain competitive.
Although search-based advertising is, for many, their
first exposure to spending money to acquire website visitors,
there are many other opportunities to explore.
REVVING UP SEARCH WITH RPM
A recent report from digital marketing intelligence provider, AdGooroo, shows how major retailers, including Target, Toys “R” Us and Victoria’s Secret, are outperforming Amazon in paid SEM. Despite the fact that Amazon advertises on millions of keywords and has twice the AdWords spend as the next largest retailer (which happened to be Target), AdGooroo’s research shows that outside of its strongest categories (books and other media) it is not always the dominant player. In reality, retailers with an established brand and specialized offering were able to reap significantly better results than Amazon in SEM. According to the report, retailers wishing to compete with Amazon in paid search should consider a key metric used by the search engines, Revenue per Thousand Impressions or RPM (RPM = CTR x CPC x 1000). AdGooroo’s analysis of the SEM results of Amazon and competing retailers found that paid ad position on U.S. AdWords is highly correlated to the RPM that each competitor delivers to Google, and that the biggest lever for improving RPM is click-through rate.
Consider “display” as one of the original forms of Internet
advertising. If the focus of your ad campaign is to
raise awareness and establish your brand, credibility and
authority, this is where you will turn. The downside of
display ads, which most of you know all too well, is the
issue of banner blindness.
The good news is that there’s a renaissance in display
advertising. Today, display advertisers not only have
new styles of banners to develop, deploy and test (check
out Website Magazine’s post on numerous display formats, but
also new technology that makes the impact of their visual
advertisements more appealing to viewers than ever
before. Enter “retargeting”.
Retargeting (also known as remarketing) is not exclusive
to display, but it is currently where it is most
heavily utilized. Retargeted display ads enable advertisers
to display their ads to users who had previously
shown interest. On average, that leads to lower cost per
conversion (particularly when retargeted display ads are
aligned with search-based advertising). For example,
let’s say a prospective customer searches on Bing for a
product you offer, and then visits your site, but leaves
without purchasing. Using retargeting technology, a
cookie is placed on the user. As they continue their
search for more information on the product or its reviews,
they will likely see a display ad for the exact product
they initially viewed on your Web property.
There are numerous technologies such as that of retargeting
that can help accelerate the success of a display
advertising campaigns, but if an advertiser is leery
of the obvious privacy implications, there still remain
numerous opportunities to improve performance —
from optimizing the creative with more meaningful
calls-to-action or geo-targeting so that display ads show
only to those in specific locales.
Email Advertising Opportunities
Even the mention of email and advertising in the same sentence elicits images of spammers inundating inboxes with messages for assorted products. Done the right way however, email advertising works. Read Website Magazine 5 Step Guide to Email Advertising Success.
The latest, if not greatest form of advertising at the moment
is the channel-based approach of social advertising.
Promoting messages on the popular social networks
of the day is intriguing. But not everyone holds that sentiment.
Take General Motors for example. The company
made news when they pulled their ads from Facebook
just days before the social media giant went public, citing
their paid ads had little effect on bottom line performance.
Part of the problem, however, is that there are so
many ways to define “social” that doing so is but a
fool’s errand. That being said of course, there are some players in the market that are defining the practice and
providing an opportunity that would leave most Web
advertisers breathless (virtually of course). And you
know them well.
Both Twitter and Facebook have recently enhanced
their ad products to provide more (and arguably better)
opportunities and it shows just how much potential still
resides in these wildly popular destinations.
In early September, Twitter released “interest targeting” for its advertisers, a
technique which dramatically opens up the possibilities
for helping to drive new business and a larger community
from within that network. Not to be left out, Facebook
unveiled several additional options for advertisers
looking to promote their brand (and content) in the
form of Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories. In the
past year, Facebook has invested heavily in its advertising
opportunities, leaving many confused by the various
options. Website Magazine has put together an
online resource to help its readers in their Facebook
advertising related decisions (WM's Facebook Ad Guide), which also provides several
strategies to optimize performance.
PERFORMANCE (AFFILIATE) ADVERTISING
The final area to address, for Web enterprises truly interested
in advertising the Internet way, is performancedriven
affiliate marketing. In affiliate marketing,
publishers (affiliates) promote the products or services
(through text links or display ads) of advertisers and are
compensated (i.e. paid commissions) only when the
traffic sent to the advertiser results in some pre-defined,
measurable result (completing a form, a sale, a sign-up,
etc.). Affiliate marketing is big business, with hundreds
of networks currently operating on the Web (some of
which readers can find in the October 2012 issue of
Affiliate marketing is ideal for advertisers looking to
gain brand traction and grow their business without all
the wasted clicks of paid search or wasted impressions
of display. It’s important to note, affiliate-based advertising
is not without its complications and challenges.
Careless affiliate advertising can cause irreparable damage
to a brand (think SPAM). In addition, without a
clear understanding of what affiliate commissions
should be, investing in the model could be fruitless (if
Plus, while many advertisers are drawn toward affiliate
marketing as a means to pay only when an action is
created, a great deal of work needs to be done — from
developing creative to managing and recruiting highperforming
affiliates. Done well, however, it is possible
to pay less, generate long-lasting traffic and increase
sales — in some cases over night. It’s truly possible to
tap the full potential of the ‘Net with affiliate marketing
and something every advertiser should consider.
The Truth About Mobile Ads
A study released recently by mobile app marketing platform Trademob, analyzed 6 million-plus mobile advertising clicks on 10 of the biggest mobile ad networks and found that 22 percent of mobile ad clicks were “misclicks,” or accidental clicks, and 18 percent were defined as “fraudulent.” Both of which had a conversion rate of less than 0.1 percent.
GET STARTED ADVERTISING
(THE INTERNET WAY)
In the past few years, advertising has become less art and
more science. In an economy where we value performance
as much as creativity, that’s the reality; and one
Web professionals must accept. Whether you’re
heavily investing in any and all forms of Internet
advertising, simply want to try something
new, or are simply looking to drive more visits to
and conversions for your Web enterprise, know that
as it stands today, you can know exactly which half of
your advertising works and can take steps to capture the
rest over time.