Where do people go to search for a product, investigate a business, or solicit a recommendation for everything from a doctor to digital cameras? Yes, the internet. While this comes as no surprise, it is surprising that many business owners have not yet incorporated internet advertising into their overall marketing strategy. According to a recent report by eMarketer, businesses not advertising online are missing the proverbial boat. Or more significantly, new customers. The logic is simple: People spend more time online today than they do reading the newspaper, watching television or listening to the radio. So, doesn’t it make good business sense to go where your customers are?
Like all technology, internet advertising has evolved during the past few years. Once regarded with skepticism, it has become a highly targeted and measurable advertising medium, ideal for small businesses promoting local products and services.
Search Advertising: Help Your Business Be Found
Commonly known as pay-per-click, search advertising refers to online ads that appear at the top and along the side of a search results page. When someone clicks on the ad or link, they are automatically delivered to the company’s website or dedicated landing page with more information and call-to-action. Each time a click occurs, the company is charged a fee, ranging from a few cents to a few dollars, depending on the category and competitiveness of the search term. What makes search advertising especially appealing is its ability to target specific geographic areas, ensuring the ad will appear to local customers searching for your products and services. And, pay-per-click is still the only guaranteed method to achieve top search engine rankings.
Display Advertising: Build Your Brand
The overall surge in online advertising is due to the increase in display ads, which refers to banner ads, video, rich media and sponsorships. Different from search advertising, which is considered primarily for direct response marketing, display advertising boosts brand awareness. Advertisers spent an estimated $6.23 billion on banner ads in 2010, a figure that will grow to an estimated $7.61 billion—or 24.3% of total online ad spending—this year, eMarketer estimates. The fastest growing segment of display advertising is online video which is expected to surpass classifieds and directories in market share—putting video behind only search and banner ads in terms of overall online ad spending. Video is a great way to not only tell, but show, your company’s story.
Another form of internet advertising that is quickly gaining traction is Facebook ads. As the world’s largest social network, Facebook is a natural conduit to promote consumer products and services. Offering display advertising, Facebook is able to target customers by geographic area and demographics.
Planning an Internet Advertising Strategy
If you are looking for new customers, it is no longer possible to ignore the internet. The key to online advertising success begins with determining the appropriate type(s) and adequate budget for your business. From there, you will need a professional team of SEO experts, copywriters, graphic designers and videographers to communicate your message. As part of your business’ overall marketing program, online advertising is another way to reach new customers and provide the information they are seeking – how, when and where they want it.