Digital Advertising Basics

If you are looking to grow your business, you already know advertising is one of the best ways to expand your audience and reach new customers. You may not, however, be sure of the best way to do that. Today there are more avenues to reach potential customers than ever before and trying to figure out how you can get the most back on your money is not at all clear. Internet usage worldwide continues to increase year over year as we become more reliant on digital tools and services for everyday life. Advertising has had to evolve with the growth of digital trends and has found new ways to get businesses to show what they are offering.

Digital Advertising in 2023

Digital ads have a huge advantage over traditional methods of advertising - they are incredibly measurable. With analytic tools we are able to see exactly what we are getting from our ads and continuously improve them based on the data they have generated. With all granular information we can track, we are given the ability to be specific about what we are trying to accomplish with our ads.

In the days of newspaper, tv, and radio ads, one of the biggest metrics the industry was focused on was CPM which stands for Cost Per Mile, a fancy way of saying cost per 1000 views. Often a business would pay a certain amount for a number of views at a guaranteed CPM. Marketers competed for the best CPM, promising to get more eyes on an ad for cheaper. In today’s world of advertising CPM alone may not be the best metric to focus on. Analytics tools allow us to optimize for getting views from our target audience, getting leads through phone calls or form submissions, or actually getting purchases through an ecommerce transaction or store visit.

Understanding what we are trying to accomplish with our ads may seem straightforward, but it is the most important part of running a successful campaign. Once we know what we are looking for, we will be able to tailor our ads to those goals and measure our performance.

Picking An Advertising Goal

Before we decide how we want to show our ads, we need to decide what we are trying to do. Are we trying to build awareness of our company or organization? Do we want to show up when a potential customer is in a time of need? Do we want to remind previous customers and people who have similar online patterns as those customers that we exist and are still ready to serve them? Knowing the answer to these questions can help us make a decision on how we chose to spend our ad budget.

The Many Paths Of Digital Advertising

Once we have our destination in mind, we can start to see which digital avenue might be the best fit to take us there. In the world of digital advertising, there are many branches we can explore. A few of the standard ones we use are:

  • Search ads
  • Display ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Videos ads
  • Social Media ads

How do we know which is best? Well, let’s first get a better understanding of what each is and how they work.

What Are The Kinds Of Digital Ads?

Search Ads

These are paid advertisements that get you to show up on search engine results pages (most commonly Google, but Bing and other competitors offer them as well). For the sake of simplicity, we will mainly be looking at Google’s platform.  You will design your ad by choosing headlines and some short descriptions about your business and giving it a destination webpage. You then choose the keywords that you want that ad to show up for. Your keywords are what are going to determine your ad spend. Many other similar businesses will also be bidding to show their ads for the same keywords. Google has a complex bidding algorithm that works to show as many bidders as possible in all of their various ad positions. Usually the company bidding the most, the most consistently, will have a better chance of showing up near the top of the results page. There are a couple of metrics that help us understand how our ads are showing, but that will be a topic we dive deeper into another time. 

Google is pretty great at helping us reach our goals. When we are creating our campaign, we can tell them what we are trying to accomplish, be it to drive awareness of our brand, or bring people into our store. But just telling them is not enough. We need to ensure our ads are actively working towards that goal. 

Display Ads

These are the banner ads you may find popping up on websites across the internet. Think of them as digital billboards. These types of ads can be great at increasing exposure and awareness of your brand, but often are not great tools at generating website traffic or leads. Often, people won’t notice them. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t still seen though. The main benefit from using display ads is that you get access to the users subconscious, and when time comes for them to need your product or service, your name is suddenly something somewhat familiar. These types of ads can be particularly effective in retargeting campaigns, where the user is already aware of your brand.

Digital ads accounted for 54% of total advertising spending in 2021, and budgets for these continue to rise. 

Shopping Ads

Shopping ads give you the opportunity to show your product before the user even clicks onto your page. If you have an excellent item, this can help generate traffic to your site that you may not have originally gotten. These ads can also lead directly to conversions. For shopping ads, it is critical that information on the product or service is correct and up to date, and you have a high quality image to grab users attention.

Video Ads

These days everyone views some form of digitally streamed media. Nearly 75% of the US population uses YouTube in some form or another, and of that portion 62% use it daily. This results in a LOT of time spent watching videos. Getting your video onto YouTube is an effective way to reach an audience as specific as you would like. Costs for running videos on YouTube are still relatively cheap when compared to traditional advertising mediums. 

It’s becoming easier and easier to get your video on many of the more popular streaming platforms. Hulu currently offers an easy to use ad management system, and is totally transparent about what you will get from your budget. Amazon has a marketing platform available that allows your ads to be shown through their streaming services or on Twitch. 

Social Ads

Last but not least, social media platforms often have their own advertising routes as well. Meta has combined all of their platforms into one ad management platform that allows you to run ads through Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and any of their subsections all through one portal. This makes it incredibly easy to distribute your ads to the audience of your choosing based on your campaign’s specific goals. Snapchat and Tiktok both offer advertising through their platforms.

Three Important Settings For Your Ad Campaigns

Once you know your goal and what kind of ad you want to run, there are a couple of key questions you need to answer when setting up your campaigns:

  • Who do I want to show these to?
  • How do I want to reach them?
  • What do I want them to do?

Now this may seem totally obvious at first, but specificity is the key to success with ad campaigns. The internet is huge. If we are not precise on our target audience and when our ad is shown, we run the risk of wasting our ad spend on less qualified users.

First, write down exactly who you want to see your ads. Are these previous customers who might need a touch up on their paint job? Or new homeowners who might just be looking for the best painter in town? Are we looking for clients nearby or all over? It is possible to be as specific as you want but you must be able to tell Google who you are looking for. If you have a previous customer list both Google and Meta are able to build look-a-like audiences based on user data. These audiences will find people who meet data points that are similar to previous customers you may have had. Both platforms also have tools to build custom audiences based on what you want them to find. Users with a history of searches that match “realtor near me” or “home inspection” will likely fit in the “new homeowner” category. Make sure your location preferences match where you are able to take leads from, both platforms default to showing nationwide.

Next figure out how you want to reach your customers. What keywords do you want your ad to show up for? In the previous example, a painter will want to show up for users who might be new homeowners, but would not want to show up for a search “realtor near me”. Once again, being specific with the terms that are important to our business will be the key to our success.

What do you want your potential customer to do with your ad? Do you want them to go to a marketplace and purchase an item? Or are you looking to get them to contact you with what they need? It is important to include strong call-to-actions so that your customer knows what they are supposed to do. Landing pages (where you ads take your customers) and the wording of your ads are the most important ways to convey this. Finding out the most effective way of getting your users to do the intended action takes time. Try running different variations of wording to find what works best. Create or tweak landing pages to better move users through your sales funnel.

How To Know Your Ads Are Successful

To evaluate the success of your digital marketing efforts, it's crucial to understand the value of a potential customer or lead for your business. By estimating this value, you can assess the return on investment (ROI) of your campaigns and optimize them for better results. Finding out what your potential customers are worth depends greatly on the services you offer and where you are located. Look for an upcoming blog on how you can get an idea of what a lead is worth to your business. 

Industry average conversion rate for search ads is %4.2. This means out of every 25 users that interact with your ad, you should expect 1 phone call. That may seem bleak, but fortunately there are things you can do to improve upon this number. Techniques like optimizing your ad copy, building out strong landing pages, and narrowing your audience for your ads can all help increase your conversion rate. Google offers suggestions tailored to your ad campaigns to help make them more efficient. You can also leverage tools such as Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google Search Console to help provide data to improve upon your ads effectiveness. Those will also be topics of coming blog posts, in the meantime you can find tons of valuable info about this from sites like Search Engine Journal or the Moz Blog. Once you get the basics down, you can start to fine tune your campaigns by getting more discreet about bidding strategies, deciding how and who to compete with, and capitalizing on seasonal trends.

It is important to keep a close eye on your ads to ensure they are meeting your goals. Typically ads run through Google will take about 2 weeks to find their performance zone. You should be able to tell by then whether or not your ads are meeting your mark. If you start a new campaign and your ads are not delivering, don’t give up just yet! Sometimes a few critical adjustments can make all the difference in a campaign's effectiveness.

Digital Ads At Rinard Media

All-in-all, digital advertising offers a wide range of possibilities for businesses looking to grow their online presence and achieve their goals. By understanding the various channels and setting the right objectives, you can make the most of your marketing budget and drive tangible results. Much like the other avenues in digital marketing, running ad campaigns is a journey that never ends but with time, you will get better at building effective ads.

At Rinard Media, our mission is to help you connect with your the people who are looking for you (especially if they don't know it yet) and make the most of your digital marketing efforts. In today's world there is a ton of noise. We believe that your service is valuable and helps better our communities. By connecting you with the people who need you, when they need you, everyone wins. 

Staff photo of Carl

Post Author:

Carl Lawrence