The World Wide Web is the single largest advertising medium in the world. Television, print media, and radio combined can’t rival the amount of advertising exposure provided by the Web on a minute-to-minute basis. Success in the modern market is based in no small part on achieving Web presence, on maintaining Web visibility, and on building a strong, self-propagating online client base. No modern business can survive without some interaction with the Internet, no matter how small.
Developing a strategy for advertising your product online isn’t something you wait until the last minute to slap together. Without at least a basic understanding of online marketing your online visibility could suffer, and your revenues with it. Whether its interstitial ads, banner ads, Rich Media Ads, e-mail marketing, social media advertising, or the online classifieds, online advertising is a powerful tool that’s always at your disposal. Let’s break down the hows and whys of using online advertising to promote your brand, agency, or cause.
Three Lines, No Waiting
The internet is the only truly global, and the only instantaneous, marketing medium. Content publication isn’t limited by location, time, or size in any meaningful way. If you want an article to launch at the start of business in Vietnam, that’s no problem. If you want ads to go live at 3:30am, you can do that, too. This global approach to advertising has seen a lot of attention from the industry as its interactive advertising model begins to replace the interruptive advertising strategies that have characterized online ads for years.
Run a Tight Ship
Advertising online is a uniquely efficient investment prospect for the advertiser. Thanks to tools like Google AdSense, AdWords, and Yahoo! Search Marketing, online ads are fully customizable from their posting locations and the breadth of their distribution to their content and appearance. These platforms, among other features, let advertisers place their ads on search results pages alongside relevant results.
The Emergent Internet
The internet expands daily at a considerable rate and across almost all sectors. With such a rapid rate of growth, it comes as no surprise that advertisers are increasingly shifting their attention to the burgeoning market it represents for their work. Bringing in new consumers is always a priority for advertising professionals, and market research shows that consumers are very comfortable with online ads because of the degree of control they exercise over the ad as a digital phenomenon: namely, that they can choose to pursue or ignore links, banner ads, etc.
Animated ads, like the popular model for banner ads that occurs Web-wide, have proven themselves particularly popular and effective, but as a field it comprises everything from keyworded advertisements to promotions nested inside free online games hosted on social media networking sites like Facebook. Advertising on the Web allows access to both general market awareness-grabbing and to niche-targeting, wherein specialty sites are selected for special ad campaigns aimed at their users.
Projections for 2012 suggest that online advertising in the US alone would be a $34 billion-plus business. Increasingly, businesses have turned to online marketing campaigns as a way to fight the global economic downturn by securing new streams of revenue and engaging with their customers and fans.
What’s Out There, and How to Use it?
Online advertising is an umbrella term. Scrutinized, it really consists of many techniques that come under the same heading because of their application in the online arena. Payment models vary almost as widely as the types of adverts available for distribution, though many advertisers prefer models in which cost is incurred by usage or ad interaction. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular models for engaging in online advertising.
- Mobile Ads: Text or multi-media messages sent to cell phones.
- Superstitial Ad: A type of animated advertisement pioneered by Unicast Communications, superstitial advertising utilizes 3D content, video, or Flash-supported media to manufacture a television-ad-like experience for visitors to a web site.
- Floating Ad: An ad designed to float above a webpage or to move with the user’s screen.
- Pop-up: The familiar pop-up windows involves a new window that pops up in front of the user’s currently open web page, obscuring it and featuring an ad.
- Pop-under: Very similar in principal to a Pop-up, with the notable exception that the ad remains unseen until the user closes or minimizes their current windows.
- Video Ad: A convenient crossover between television and the internet, video ads evoke a television experience and can be easily moved between the two mediums or featured simultaneously on both. In fact, doing just that is a common industry practice.
- Expanding Ad: An ad that alters its size and which may also modify the contents of the webpage from which it is sourced.
- Polite Ad: An ad downloaded incrementally so as not to disrupt the browsing experience of the visitor.
- Wallpaper Ad: An ad that alters the background of a website being viewed, transforming it into an advertisement.
- Trick or “Decoy” Banner: A banner ad designed to resemble a Microsoft dialog box, complete with buttons. Considered highly dishonest and ethically suspect, usually attendant to malware.
- Map Ad: An ad linked to a specific location on a service like the one provided by Google Maps. May be comprised of text, video, other media, etc.
- Interstitial Ad: a full-page ad that appears during the transition from one page or website to another, usually timed or click-to-skip.
Spearheaded by the ever-popular web banner, display advertising takes many forms. Banners may be animated or static, silent or audio-capable, or they may even incorporate video elements. Display advertising is a valuable tool for raising brand awareness and for online branding in general. Visual ads are a principle of advertisement and brand promotion so basic that virtually any ad campaign is guaranteed to involve visuals on some level.
Visuals can help draw in your target audience, and display ads bring it to the next level of engagement. Quality art direction can pay for itself in the right sectors, and it’s never a bad idea to look professional, even if you’re not romancing the high fashion jet-set crowd.
Affiliate marketing is an online advertising stratagem in which a single advertiser organizes campaigns with an ideally significant number of publishers of all sizes on a pay for performance basis, meaning that publishers are compensated only if measurable site traffic (forms filled out, transactions logged, etc.) for the advertiser ensues from the campaign. Affiliate networks are a convenient avenue through which to pursue affiliate marketing strategies.
Affiliate marketing differs from referral marketing in that incentives are purely fiscal, without the involvement of personal relationships or recommendations. This market technique allows for broad distribution, market sector domination, and strong visibility.
Opt Into Advertising
Spam was the name of the game during the early 90’s, and even in the 2010’s it remains a huge industry, but opt-in Email advertising is becoming an important alternative to the frowned-upon practice of spam-mailing. Writing and distributing high-quality, unobtrusive Email ads to subscribing consumers has become a sizable industry in and of itself, with companies dispensing special offers, sale and promotional notifications, and other preferential material to individuals who sign up for their mailing lists. As an advertising tool its utility is considerable, mainly for cultivating a feeling of loyalty in existing customers.
Interaction time, the length of time a consumer spends engaging with a banner ad, is a metric receiving a large amount of attention from the market analysis sector at present. Cookies and access to the browser history of target audiences, the same technology responsible for user-specific search engine ads, allow for uniquely focused advertising strategies. A pool of Web occupants is selected, their interests indexed and prioritized, and appropriate ads and content produced.
Whether targeting is behavioral, site-based, geographic, or demographically determined makes little difference. Targeted campaigns help you get the most for your dollar without wasting your product’s face-time in uninterested market sectors.
Know Your Audience
It might seem like a basic piece of advice, but knowing the sector you’re targeting is absolutely crucial to making a splash in your chosen market. The contextual methods aside, an emergent field known as Behavioral Targeting, focused on adapting a user’s history into an individually tailored advertisement portfolio dynamically capable of following the user throughout their browsing experience. Getting on board by engaging in market research and analyzing site data is the first step to really modernizing your brand.
The internet is the biggest bazaar in the world, and it never closes or slows down. Establishing and preserving a strong, visible presence in the online community through online advertising is just the first step to real success.