Gone are the days when advertising on the World Wide Web was an expensive venture, reserved for big companies and government offices. No more paying huge sums for a banner on a portal. Today’s marketing is a whole lot more sophisticated, more targeted, more user-oriented, and most importantly more budget-friendly.
This is thanks to the magic of campaigning. Today you get to choose who sees your message, when that happens, how much you pay for it and under what circumstances. Makes you want to jump right in, doesn’t it? Hold on for a minute. These endless marketing possibilities have also brought diversity with them and this means you need to know where, when and in what way delivering your message is going to produce the best results.
Since there are thousands of different advertising platforms out there that may be relevant to you, we will focus on the main ones that are a ‘must know’ for every campaigner. Hopefully, that will help you choose the right one for you and your success.
With approximately 70,000 searches conducted every second, Google as an advertising platform offers everything to everyone (for better or worse). There is an important distinction, though, between its three major outlets:
- Search engine marketing (SEM) – the sponsored search results you see which are targeted according to keywords you search for. This is what we’re going to focus on.
- Image and video ads on websites owned or in partnership with Google – these are your regular banners and widgets, very similar to traditional advertising online.
- YouTube ads – Being more costly to produce and publish, these video ads are not recommended for small advertisers or anyone taking their first steps in the online marketing world.
User demographics aren’t an issue with SEM, since almost everyone uses Google to search for something. This also means that your ad is shown to a user with some sort of intent, since they were intentionally searching for something relevant to your marketing (as you can see in the screenshot below). These are two big advantages to working with Google Ads SEM.
As you can see, the ad for a pizzeria in San Diego is shown to people who are looking for just that, and therefore the chances of people clicking it are high. In addition, this ad is shown to everyone, regardless of age, gender, location, and so on (unless you define otherwise). But wait, there’s a third big advantage to SEM. The ad is very simple to create, as you can see. Just pick the right keywords, jot down a sentence or two, and voila, it’s ready.
Naturally, there are also downsides to working with Google SEM. One of the most prominent ones is the fact that almost everyone is doing it. This means you should expect a tough battle over every keyword, every phrase and yes, even every typo. Another issue is the interface itself. Many advertisers complain about it being hard to maneuver at first.
Bottom line: If you’re advertising online and not advertising on Google, are you really advertising online? The advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages, making Google a must for small businesses today.
The largest social media platform in the world naturally has a potential that should not be overlooked. With a user database that has already passed 2.7 billion worldwide and with enough data to get your message through to the exact type of users you prefer, you should think twice before opting out on Facebook Ads. These ads are very diverse in nature, though, depending on the placement, the type, the budget, and other variables (and that’s before mentioning Instagram, owned and operated by Facebook).
Facebook ads are not targeted according to an intent or a keyword, but by the demographics of the audience you choose. You can rely on Facebook’s massive amount of data for precise targeting when it comes to demographics, interests, hobbies, political views and a whole lot more.
That’s not all, though. Facebook also has the technology to deliver your message to potential customers, based on how similar they are to people showing interest in you. This relatively new world in targeting, called ‘lookalikes’, cannot be obtained today on any other social media platform with such accuracy.
On the other hand, you must remember that users come to Facebook to scroll and catch up, not to search for you (as opposed to SEM) – meaning a lesser chance of gaining a click. Also, Facebook Ads are not easy to create. They must be extremely eye-catching for the average scroller to stop and stare, and they must blend into the user’s feed – not a simple task at all.
Bottom line: While Facebook collects and stores a lot of data, which can make targeting more effective, and while the potential target audience is huge, it doesn’t necessarily make finding clients easier. If you don’t know how to use Facebook’s interface, you are going to have a hard time getting results (and trust us, the interface can be very annoying sometimes).
Having said all of that, this is still definitely not a platform to miss out on. Since Facebook still ranks first in user activity worldwide, allocating your budget there might be a must, depending on what you’re selling.
Snapchat & Tiktok
Think that these are kiddy and teen apps? Think again. These platforms have not only become popular among adults (Snapchat, for example, can be found in one out of every two phones of people between the ages of 25 and 34 in the US), but have also become a barometer for anything trending. They offer an array of different ad options, including ads that naturally blend into the users’ feed, popup ads, videos and even hashtag challenges. A whole world of possibilities.
There’s one small thing you need to know, though. These platforms are relatively new and therefore are still changing the way things work – especially their policies. Also, as opposed to Instagram, backed by Facebook’s huge database, Snapchat and Tiktok can’t yet offer the same precise targeting of audiences (but it still does a heck of a job).
Bottom line: There’s a lot more to be learned about these platforms. If you want to give them a try, make sure you have an idea of what you’re doing.
OK, now we’re looking at something a whole lot less mainstream. This is the platform to advertise in if you’re trying to catch the attention of businesses, organizations, institutions, but not necessarily individuals. LinkedIn is where you build your personal professional image and the reputation of your business, so the ads you see there need to help you toward that goal. If that’s relevant to you, that’s a plus since there is some level of intent (users go to LinkedIn to find ways to boost themselves) and much less competition over user attention.
However, the creative in LinkedIn deserves some thought before execution. Being a professional network, the promoted content needs to look professional – sloppy content won’t attract clicks. As far as targeting goes, LinkedIn does not have a database that’s close to what other social media outlets offer, but its user base is smaller and more business-focused to begin with.
Bottom line: This platform is a bit problematic. While it does appeal mainly on a professional level, we’re not sure people there are looking to spend money. Most LinkedIn users search for job opportunities or for ways to make their business more profitable, so if that’s not what you’re offering, spend your money somewhere else.
Other search engines
It may seem like Google is a synonym for search engines, but there are plenty of other options. “Only” %92 percent of searches worldwide are conducted on Google, and that leaves another %8 to competitors. That may sound like a little, but that’s still hundreds of millions of queries a day. Also, Google’s popularity is much lower in some countries around the world and that may be a key factor when choosing where you want to promote yourself.
The process here, as you’ve probably guessed, is the same as Google’s SEM, but the interface is different. There may be less of a supply of users searching via these websites, such as Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yandex, but there’s also less of a demand from the advertiser side (which means the competition for every keyword is less fierce).
Bottom line: This option should go hand-in-hand with, but not instead of, Google Ads.