Last Friday we talked about how to enhance your print advertisements to make them more interactive and more aligned with 21st century marketing strategies. Today we’re going to talk about how to make the most out of your online advertisements. We should point out that over the last few years, the reputation of online ads has undergone several shifts and shakes. When banner ads first became really popular, promises were made about driving a lot of traffic to websites. It was declared that banner ads could serve as lead generators and that online ads would perhaps replace print advertising altogether.
Now we know that a lot of that was overshooting the mark. Today, many banner ad programs are recommended as branding campaigns versus traffic builders or lead creators. However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to use online ads productively. Here are five tips to help you do just that.
1. Consider your objective: Why are you investing in an online advertising campaign? This is the key to everything else you will decide. If you want to gain a lot of exposure, you will want to advertise on homepages. If you want to associate your brand with relevant content, you’ll want to sponsor web pages that perhaps don’t get as much traffic but are very specific to your business. If you want to create leads, this will influence the location of your banner ad as well as the creative. This all needs to be thought through quite carefully.
2. Find out how many advertisers your ad is competing against: Publications are not always forthcoming about how many other ads will be appearing in the position you are buying. We always make a point of asking with how many ads our client’s ad will be rotating. If there are a number of advertisers in one spot, the chances of your particular ad getting seen are slim – a person is not going to stay on a page to make sure they cycle through every possible ad. Moreover, if you are going to be rotating with several other ads, you’ll want your own ad to be short and sweet so that a person on the page can get your entire message with one look to try to even the playing field.
3. Don’t just say, “Click here”: People now know what banner ads are, unlike what may have been the case in 2002. They know that you are counting on clicks and they know that they will very probably be hit with a promotional message if they do click. That’s not enticing. Find a way to inspire a person to click. Ask a question and promise an answer. Offer a free white paper for download. Offer a new study. Give a person a real reason to go to your website, and then don’t play games – deliver what you promised.
4. Make sure everything is legible: There is often a great temptation to try to fit a print ad’s copy into a horizontal banner ad space. Do not fall under the spell of that siren song. You have only a few seconds to catch a person’s attention. If they have to squint or adjust their glasses to figure out what you’re saying, well, they simply won’t take the time to do it. Moreover, poor creative simply makes your company look unprofessional.
5. Measure the right stuff: When you ask how ads tend to perform on a site, the answer you often get is something about impressions. Indeed, many online programs are priced on a CPM basis that has to do with nothing but impressions. All impressions mean is that a certain number of people may have seen your ad. You need to clarify to see if that number of impressions should be divided by how many ads actually can appear on that page. Impressions don’t do anything measurable for you, however. While impressions can give you an inkling of how many people might see your ad, which can be good for branding, to find out how your ads are really performing, or how other ads have performed, ask about clicks. Even that is not the full answer. You want to make sure you are driving people to a page where they can become part of your CRM software or in some other way part of your lead nurturing process. That’s what really counts against your bottom line.
There is nothing wrong with using a banner ad campaign like a billboard, but make sure your ad is appearing in an appropriate location, and make sure you have enough room in your marketing budget to allow a little wiggle room for unmeasurable results. If this is understood going into the process, you’ll have an easier time rationalizing the program later.
Are you investing in online advertising this year? If you want any clarification on any of these tips, just let us know.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/2825008179/ via Creative Commons