17 October

A Quick Guide to Paid Online Advertising

According to an article by Peter Kafka and Rani Molla, digital ad spending beat TV spending for the first time in 2017 (41% of the market vs. 35%). As Virtual Assistants and online business owners, we could have predicted this trend. And we are part of it!

Paid online advertising is the new cool kid in town. But how do we choose between the many different ad platforms? To help you along, we’ll show you some pros and cons of each so you can determine which one works best for your business and target audience.

As you read through this guide, think about the following questions:

• Where do my potential clients or customers hang out?
• What type of budget do my clients and I have?
• What is my skill set and how do I best communicate my service offerings?
• Do I need to upgrade my skills in order to use a particular ad platform?

So, without further ado, here’s a quick guide to paid online advertising:

Search Ads (also known as Search Engine Marketing or Pay-Per-Click advertising)

This platform allows you to advertise on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. You can create targeted ads based on keywords your audience is searching for, and your ad will appear next to search results. Here’s what an ad would look like on Google:

Screenshot via https://ads.google.com/

Pros:
• According to G2 Crowd’s “Guide to Digital Advertising Channels,” 3.5 billion searches are performed each day just on Google, so you have the potential to reach a wide range of people.
• You can set a budget and pay only when someone clicks on your ad.
• You can target a specific audience by basing your ad on demographics and keywords being searched for.
• Remarketing (e.g. related ads) provide a way of following your target audience around, with your ads displayed in a variety of places online.

Cons:
• Search ads used to be cost-effective, but have become more expensive and less effective than before.
• In an article titled “Google AdWords Advertising: Pros and Cons,” Kristen Hicks suggests that people click on natural results more often than PPC ads, but that the trend could change as Google ads start to look more like natural results.
• Search ads can’t be shared like social media content.

Display Ads (also known as Banners or Rich Media)

Display advertising is a way of promoting a company or product on a website. It consists of banners, overlays (pops), and rich media (GIFs or video). Here’s what a banner created through Google ads would look like:

Screenshot via https://ads.google.com/

Pros:
• As the G2 Crowd’s “Guide to Digital Advertising Channels” says, display advertising allows brands to gain more traffic, increase sales, and grow brand awareness.
• With remarketing or retargeting, businesses can display an ad on other platforms after a visitor clicks on it.
• Retargeting can be appealing when people see exactly the types of products they’re interested in. This is a display ad I saw related to my previous searches, and I have to confess it sparked my interest.

Cons:
• Display ads can be expensive, so are more often used by companies with bigger budgets.
• Many people use pop-up blockers, so your ad could be missed.
• Some website visitors may be annoyed by display ads that obscure their view of website content.

Mobile Ads

This platform allows you to advertise across smartphones and tablets. Mobile ads come in the form of mobile banners, in-app ads, video ads, and interstitial ads, which are full-page ads that fill a screen. This is a mobile ad I saw while browsing Instagram on my smartphone:

Pros:
• An article by Brad Smith titled “31 Advertising Statistics to Know in 2018,” says studies show that brand awareness can increase by 46% when an ad appears in mobile search results.
• Mobile advertising literally fits in the palm of your target audience’s hand and continues to grow in popularity as people spend time with their devices.

Cons:
Many articles agree that some of the main disadvantages of mobile ads are
◦ The difficulty of creating ads that can be viewed successfully on all types of mobile devices
◦ Problems with navigating on a device using only a touchscreen
◦ Maintaining consistent and appropriate levels of privacy for mobile device users.

Video Ads

As video grows in popularity, so do video ads. According to Statista, video advertising revenues this year equal US$27,799m. Video ads come in formats like linear ads (running before videos on YouTube, for example), in-page video ads (constantly rotated on websites), and in-banner ads.

Screenshot via https://www.youtube.com

Pros:
• Video is a highly popular and engaging channel that shows no signs of slowing down.
• It’s a great medium for showcasing your brand and personality.
• With YouTube and Google Ads, you can target people based on a variety of categories to reach your ideal audience.
• You can manage your budget and only pay when people watch or engage with your ad.

Cons:
• Video ads can annoy people if they pop up and obscure website content.
• Linear video ads that run before YouTube videos can be skipped, so people might choose not to view your promotional content.

Social Ads

According to Statista, social media advertising in 2018 brings in US$67,971m of revenue worldwide.  For us freelancers and Virtual Assistants, this platform barely needs an introduction. It consists of delivering ads through top social networks like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Multiple ad formats and options can be used. We cover those in more detail in our Social Media Advertising Program at VAClassroom.

Screenshot via https://www.facebook.com

Pros:
• Social ads are more cost-effective than other traditional advertising media.
• You can incorporate other ad platforms, like placing social media ads on mobile devices or using video ads in networks like Facebook and Instagram.
• You can target ads according to several categories so you’re reaching your ideal audience.
• Retargeting campaigns can also be used to engage with your audience in different places online.
• According to the Facebook site, two billion people use Facebook every month. And in the US, one out of every five minutes spent on mobile devices involves Facebook or Instagram.
• Social sharing can give your ad content a wider reach.

Cons:
• It’s challenging to make your content stand out in such a content-rich channel.
• You need to be sure you’re placing ads on the right social media platform for your audience. As popularity changes, you may need to shift to new networks.

Where to start

If you haven’t used paid online advertising yet, where’s the best place to start? In VAClassroom’s Social Media Advertising Program, VAClassroom co-founder and instructor Craig Cannings highly recommends Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) and Facebook Ads.

Smith’s article mentioned above reports that businesses typically double their investment on Google Ads, and 40% of internet users follow their favorite brands on social media. So these two platforms are a great way to set yourself up for success!

But as you form your advertising strategy, be sure to consider the following questions:

For Google Ads:

• What wording will you use to grab people’s attention with your ad?
• What keywords will your audience be searching for?
• What is your budget?
• Do you have the skills to set up the ads yourself, or will you need some assistance?

For Social Ads:

• Which social network is frequented by your target audience?
• Are they staying firmly within one or more network, or are they in the process of transitioning to others?
• How will you make your ad content unique?
• Which ad format best showcases your brand and service offerings or those of your clients (photos, video, banners on Facebook)?

So, there you have it – a quick guide to paid online advertising! We’ve given you a taste of the different platforms to get you started in your Virtual Assistant or freelance business promotion.

If you have any questions or advice from your experience with online advertising, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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