Digital Advertising 101

By Jacki Kilbride - Last Updated on April 2, 2020
Digital Advertising Explained

Around 95% of online giant Google’s revenue comes from digital advertising. If your business hasn’t yet taken to the digital space, it’s missing out. Compared to traditional media, digital advertising is more efficient, easier to target, and more cost-effective. So what exactly is digital advertising, anyway?(1)

What is Digital Advertising?

Digital advertising involves using digital space for your advertisements. This form of advertising makes it possible to target individuals based on buying preferences and other traits. Digital advertising is an alternative to traditional media.

A Brief History of Digital Advertising and Statistics

This story goes all the way back to October 27, 1994. Wired Magazine placed the first banner ad on the internet– a 468*60 pixel ad for AT&T’s virtual museum tour. Since then, digital advertising has taken off, and many companies have dedicated digital budgets.

So why take advantage of the digital space?

  • More than 7 in 10 customers purchase products online monthly.
  • The average internet user has up to 5 social media accounts.
  • Millennials spend 2 hours 38 minutes every day on social media
  • 46% of customers use social media to research products.
  • The average consumer spends more than 6 hours daily each day using their mobile devices.
  • All online purchases begin with a search on the internet.

What this all boils down to, is that digital advertising is necessary. We see that more and more people are living their lives on the internet, so if you want to reach them with your products and services, you must go where they are.

Why Use Digital Advertising?

Digital advertising can help you:

  1. Increase sales

    Meeting your customers where they’re at helps keep you top of mind. This, in turn, can help increase your sales– especially if you have an engaging website and an online store.

  2. Find better leads

    It is easier to sell to people who want to hear from you than interrupting people, trying to sell to them. Digital advertising, when done properly, helps you generate qualified leads.

  3. Judge the success of your campaign

    Unlike other advertising media which are expensive when compared with the returns, digital advertising is a lot cheaper and more measurable as you can quantify how much you spent and align it with your goals. You are also able to track your advertising in real-time.

  4. Boost your awareness

    If your goal for using digital advertising is to grow your brand awareness quickly and to a large audience on a budget, then it is a great strategy.

  5. Nail your target

    With digital advertising, you can target your adverts to the particular target you want. This is great as it means that you will always be spot on with the people who see your ads.

  6. Re-target customers

    With digital advertising, you can use information gathered from a customer during an interaction to target them at a later time. This can drive repeat customers.

  7. Diversifies your advertising strategy

    Digital advertising allows you to reach people you can’t through traditional media. Because of that, you can go from being unknown to viral virtually overnight.

  8. Offers advertising for any budget

    Traditional media can be cost-prohibitive for a lot of small businesses. Digital advertising puts advertising within reach for those with smaller budgets.

( Also Read: Role of Data Management Platform in Digital Advertising )

How Does Online Advertising Work?

With online advertising, ads can either be distributed to a target demographic, or to the public at large. The advertiser must first determine their audience, and then find outlets that allow them to reach said audience. That may involve geotargeting consumers based on their location, or even using third party data to determine consumer preferences.

Types of Digital Advertising

  1. Search Engine Marketing

    Have you typed a word on google and then when the words appear, you see Ad by the side of the first two words? That is search engine marketing. It is simply paying for ads that appear on search engine result pages.

    Search engine marketing is a very popular form of advertising and should be explored if you are on a tight budget.

  2. Display Advertising

    Have you seen a blog or a website and then noticed an ad inside the blog? That is Display advertising. These are ads that show up on various sites on the internet.

  3. Social Media Marketing

    This is the most popular form of advertising and the reason for this is not far-fetched. More people are on social media platforms. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. More and more people are actively using these platforms.

    Social media marketing simply means promoting your products or services via these platforms. Instagram and Facebook are the most popular choice for marketers and advertisers because of its targeting algorithm.

  4. Native Advertising

    Native advertising simply means paid adverts that have the looks and feel of the website or medium in which they appear. They appear as feeds and do not look like ads.

  5. Video Ads

    More and more people watch video content on the internet. Using video ads simply is putting ads in video content. The most popular platform for video ads is YouTube.

  6. Remarketing

    This is a smart strategy to employ when you want to target ads to audiences who have visited your website or purchase products in the same category with your offering or shown interest in the past.

  7. Affiliate Marketing

    As a result of more people creating content on the internet as gaining considerable traffic, advertisers now enlist the help of these people especially bloggers and writers to mention their brand and products on their platforms and in return give them a commission on purchases made via their network. This form of advertising is gaining ground because of its cost-effective nature.

  8. Banner Ads

    To drive traffic to their websites, advertisers create banners and place them on websites with massive traffic, so as to get visitors to click and be directed to their sites.

  9. Search Advertising

    If you’ve done a Google search, you’ve probably noticed ads off to the side of the page and at the top. These are examples of search advertising.

  10. Mobile Advertising

    A regular banner ad may show up distorted on a mobile phone. For that reason, there are dedicated mobile advertising. These ads are optimized for cell phone users.

  11. Email Marketing as an Advertising Tool

    This is marketing to people via their email. To effectively use email marketing, you must first gain quality subscribers. Next, you must send them engaging content with an inspiring CTA.

    You can segment your list based on consumer characteristics, and send different content to different consumers, based on their interests and preferences. And best of all, you can automate your email so that it sends out at a given date and time.

  12. Content Marketing as an Advertising Tool

    Engaging content is key to content marketing. You can take advantage of the reach and visibility of established influencers, as well, by asking them to develop content for your brand.

Benefits of Online Advertising

There are a number of reasons to hop on the digital bandwagon:

  • Online advertising has a wider reach

    Digital is not limited to a geographic area the way traditional media may be.

  • It’s budget-friendly

    It’s less expensive than traditional media, and because campaigns can be tweaked in real-time it often yields better results.

  • There may be mass appeal

    There is the potential for your advertisement to go viral if enough people like it.

  • Digital has a narrow focus

    Digital allows for a large degree of targetability.

  • It’s easily trackable

    Digital ads are trackable in real-time, allowing you to make adjustments if things aren’t working.

  • Online ads encourage engagement

    These ads are accessible to consumers and, as a result, they promote customer engagement.

  • Social media is where the teens are

    It’s easier to reach younger audiences with social media than traditional media these days.

  • Digital advertising is booming

    The field is rapidly growing and changing, leading to improvements in the ad space.

  • You’ll get your money back and then some

    Digital has a more favorable ROI than traditional media.

Digital Advertising Challenges

There are a few basic challenges facing the digital advertising sector:

  • Growth happens overnight

    With every waking day, the dynamism changes and new platforms are created, and older ones fade out or evolve and the information that works yesterday does not work today. It can be problematic for advertisers.

  • Costs are rising

    As the value of digital advertising becomes more clear, the price will adjust accordingly. We saw this happen in television and radio, and it seems inevitable in this space, as well.

  • Consumers employ ad-blocks

    These blockers are useful for a more streamlined browsing experience, but they are harmful for advertisers.

  • It’s harder to stand out

    That can lead to a reduction in exposure for advertisers, or at least for those who don’t rise above the noise.

  • Audiences can be hard to find

    The public’s tastes shift so rapidly that it can sometimes be difficult to predict where your target is going to be.

  • Ad frauds and shady agencies create a lack of transparency

    While at its core digital advertising allows for greater analysis of a campaign, if you don’t understand those metrics it can be pretty confusing. And if you don’t have someone willing to explain it to you, it can result in a lack of transparency.

  • Customers tune out ads

    Banner ad blindness is a thing. Our brains will scan through a site’s content and only pick up on what we want it to.

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

    Although this is primarily relevant to European advertisers, other regions may also follow suit. The GDPR gives consumers more control over their data, which can present challenges when it comes to programmatic advertising.

Best Practices for Digital Advertising

To be able to get the above benefits and advantages, you must take note of the following simple tips. These tips will make all the difference;

  • You need a good call to action (CTA)

    Encourage people to buy your product or visit your website. Before you engage in digital advertising activities, you must ask yourself: What response do I want people to give, or what action do I want them to take? When you have decided on that, encourage them to take those actions.

  • Be unique

    As a result of the massive information available on the internet, users can see your adverts and skip over it. The reason for that is the mind only remembers or acknowledges things that create an impression or connects emotionally. So, let your message be remarkable. Let it create an emotional connection.

  • Your message must support your brand

    One of the mistakes of advertising generally is service providers promote features and not benefits. Promote just your brand and its message and all activities online must reinforce the brand and its message, no matter what.

  • Stay on topic

    Your advertising should be relevant to your message, which should somehow be relevant to your company, your product, or your mission.

  • Don’t overcomplicate things

    People don’t want to read a book– they want to glance at an ad and know just enough about the product or brand to pique their interest.

  • Use compelling copy

    Invest in creative content and copywriters. As the saying goes, in the realm of the internet, Content is King. Invest and give attention to your content.

( Also Read: The Definitive Guide On Ad Tech )

Digital Advertising Frauds

Be wary of threats in the digital advertising space. Nothing can be more frustrating than investing good money on digital advertising only to find out it is all fake. A few threats to be on the lookout for are:

  • Bots

    If you’re seeing a high CTR that isn’t generating many leads, it’s possible bots are to blame. Bots can make it look as though a huge amount of traffic is being directed to your site when in reality it’s just a computer program.

  • Domain spoofing

    Using domain spoofing, a publisher can trick an advertiser into thinking their ad is appearing on a different site than it really is.

  • Ad stacking

    Sometimes publishers will stack ads, so multiple ads display but only the top one is actually visible. This can skew your analytics as it makes it seem as if you’re receiving more impressions than you really are.

  • Zero-ad

    Some sites, such as government websites, are not allowed to display ads. These are called zero-ad sites. However, sometimes ads will be hidden inside downloads on a zero-ad site.

  • Pixel stuffing

    This occurs when a publisher displays an ad that is 1*1 pixels big. It’s too small to be seen by a visitor to the site, but the impressions are recorded as if it were visible.

    These pesky windows appear underneath the active window. The impressions are recorded but the user may not even realize they’re there.

  • Ghost sites

    Ghost sites are usually generated by AI, and bots are used to artificially inflate the visitor count. Ad space is then sold to advertisers, even though the site does not actually have an audience.

How to Create a Successful Digital Advertising Campaign

  • Offer your customers something they would actually want. If it’s a sale, make sure the discount is compelling. If it’s a product, highlight its benefits. Whatever you do, make sure it’s appealing to the consumer.
  • You need to make your brand stand out from all the other noise out there. To do that, you must have engaging and unique copy.
  • Don’t settle for a banner ad that looks like everyone else’s. Custom design your creatives so that they are one-of-a-kind.
  • Advertise to the client you want. Picture your dream customer, and target your ads to them.

The Future of Digital Advertising

With all of these challenges and threats, the digital advertising space will keep growing and evolving and opening new opportunities for profiting by users/advertisers.

As we saw in the last US election, advertisers and strategists are now using micro-targeting to pinpoint advertising accuracy to boost their campaigns and give themselves more data accuracy. More and more data agencies are rising to make sense of the data churned out daily and behavioral patterns and there is an increased need to understand data science.

Everywhere you go now on the internet, one word you keep hearing is search engine optimization, increasing the chances of being seen by users, and more and more applications are rising to help advertisers accomplish that. Google keeps profiting via AdWords

Facebook and Instagram are other names for social media marketing or advertising as they lead the market in advertising-income, followed by Google.

Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Advertising

Q. What is Advertising in Digital Marketing?

A. Advertising is one component of a digital marketing strategy. Marketing in general also encompasses the product, the place, and the price.

Q. How Much Does Digital Marketing Cost?

A. Digital marketing is highly cost-effective and budget-friendly. It is based on your business goals. Instagram and Google AdSense helps you to advertise on a tight budget.

Q. What is the best form of advertising available today?

A. Social media advertising

Q. What are the different goals that affect my advertising budget?

A. Your goals can range from generating sales, or increasing brand awareness, or to just gather a following, or to generate leads. It may be just to engage your target audience. Set your business goals before you think of a budget.

Final Thoughts

Digital advertising has come to stay for the next couple of years and it will keep evolving. Your survival or growth in business will depend largely on how well you can navigate the digital advertising space.

Don’t let all of this information overwhelm you. We are here to help you navigate this terrain. Contact us today and watch your business grow as we meet your goals while you focus on what you love to do the most – create a satisfied customer and deliver value.

Looking forward to hearing from you as we take your business to a whole new level of customer engagement and growth.

Jacki Kilbride | Jacki Kilbride is a freelance writer and marketing nerd who recently earned her MPA. When she’s not writing or diving into research, she can usually be found hiking or traveling with her family.

Jacki Kilbride | Jacki Kilbride is a freelance writer and marketing nerd who recently earned her MPA. When she’s not writing or diving into research, she can usuall...

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