online advertising

A Primer on Online Advertising

Online advertising is not the same as online  marketing. Online marketing includes having a great website, blogging regularly, using social media in strategic ways, linkbuilding, and all kinds of other stuff that isn’t advertising.

However, there are times when you want to use ads. Say you are selling a new type of senior alert system. A quick Google of “Senior alert” and “senior alarm” right now brings up a bunch of information about people scamming seniors. Not only do you want to get some quick traction for your new product, but you don’t really want to be in the organic results with news about con men fleecing old ladies.

So how about ads?

Before we begin looking at the options, we should acknowledge a fact about ads. As a rule, people ignore ads. In fact, 63% say they do so intentionally. Add in the ones who block ads and those who unintentionally ignore them, plus those who just automatically click away from any site containing obvious ads, and you have a lot of people who are being offered to you as “impressions” but are not actually looking at your ad.

The exception is when those ads talk about something that is already on the visitors’ minds. A reader who is worrying about her elderly father is likely to notice an ad saying, “Worried about elderly parents?” and click through.

Ads on websites

One way to publish ads online is to buy ad space from websites. Many websites offer ad space, at prices ranging from $50 a month for a banner ad to hundreds of dollars a month for a space shared with other advertisers. You can choose high-traffic websites with lots of ads, such as newspaper websites, but this may not always be your best bet.

First, make sure you understand the sources of any “circulation” or “potential impressions” figures you are given. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples — if one site gives you “hits” and another gives you “uniques,”
you can’t make a direct comparison between the two any more than 10 yen are the equivalent of 10 baht.

Second, think seriously about who is visiting the site you are considering, and why. The site owners should have some demographic information, or you can check the site at When you find out that the most important demographic is guys in their 20s, you should ask yourself, “Are twenty year old guys who are going to a website to check football scores going to be open to ads for senior care alert systems?”

Chances are, those ads for senior care products will do better at a website offering advice to people dealing with the health needs of seniors. Smaller, more focused websites are likely to show your ads to a higher proportion of people who are actually interested in what you’re selling, and they are often less expensive, too.

Consider the readers’ goals, too, when you’re buying and using ad space at websites. If the website is directed toward people caring for seniors, a headline like, “Worrying about elderly parents?” makes sense. If it’s directed toward seniors themselves, choose something like, “Keep your independence with easy to use Alert Guard.”

Ads on social media sites

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms offer ads, and they are often very tightly targeted. You can show things to people based on their location, demographics, interests, and other information collected by the website.

Social media platform ads have a famously low click through rate. They do better for brand awareness or getting Likes than for getting people back to your website.

Should you care? In a word, yes. Not only do you have much more control over your website than you do on any social media platform, but you can also measure your results much better. By creating goals and setting up a conversion funnel, you can tell whether people from one ad are more likely to become customers than those from another.

And the point of advertising is to get customers.

Paid search

You can also put ads on search engine results pages, or even within websites through Google or bing. The great benefit here is that your ad will be shown to people looking for what you have to offer. That is, you can buy space for people looking for “senior care alert systems” and your ad will be shown to people who are looking for precisely that. You can specify a particular geographic area, too.

While tech savvy people often ignore the ads on the SERPs, many people do not even recognize them as ads, so they may not be as widely ignored as banner ads are — and, let’s face it, if you do a good job setting up your ads (we can help you), you shouldn’t have anyone looking at them who isn’t already interested in the subject.

You also pay only for those visitors who click through your ad (that’s the “pay per click” part). Being told that you’re getting a million impressions and having 10 visits to your page can be very frustrating if you were sort of thinking you were paying for a million visits.

No matter what you choose, follow these three rules:

  • Pay as little as possible for the first round — choose the option that will cost the least while still giving you results.
  • Don’t pay so little that you get no results. Getting no results with $100 worth of Google ads doesn’t mean you won’t get results with Google ads. Give it a fair shot or you’ll have wasted the money you put into it.
  • Test and measure results. You have to set things up ahead of time to give you measurable results, or you will never know whether you gained any benefit from the ads.







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