Digital advertising encompasses various online methods commonly known as “paying to play.” Businesses invest to have their presence showcased on popular digital platforms such as search engines, social media, websites, apps, and other online channels.
Differences between digital advertising and traditional advertising:
Flexibility and precision stand out as the key distinctions between digital advertising and traditional advertising.
Flexibility- Flexibility is evident in the rapid deployment of digital ads, a stark departure from the time-consuming processes involved in traditional advertising methods such as printing and distributing through newspapers or billboards. Digital advertising enables almost instantaneous visibility on websites, with ads appearing shortly after their creation. Particularly for automatically generated ads using standard templates, the entire process can be completed within a matter of minutes.
In contrast to print advertising, where alterations are impossible once an ad is published, digital ads offer ongoing adaptability even after a campaign is live. Depending on the chosen channel, adjustments can be made to creative content, timing, frequency, targeting, and more. This facilitates in-flight optimization, allowing for real-time modifications to ad campaigns based on their performance.
Budgetary flexibility is another hallmark of digital advertising. While elaborate and high-profile digital campaigns may rival or exceed the costs of traditional advertising, the digital realm accommodates smaller businesses with limited budgets. Moreover, digital ad expenditures can be scaled up or down to align with financial investments, offering a versatile approach to advertising that caters to a broad spectrum of businesses.
Precision- One notable distinction between digital advertising and traditional advertising lies in precision. Traditional advertisements, whether in magazines, on TV, or on billboards, have a broad reach, reaching anyone who comes across them. Conversely, digital advertising offers a range of targeting methods, allowing for greater precision in reaching audiences likely to be interested in your advertisement. For example, if you specialize in outdoor equipment, you can target individuals interested in hiking or reengage with potential customers who have shown interest in your products but haven’t made a purchase. Depending on the chosen format, you can also restrict your ad to specific times of the day or exclude audiences who have already seen your ad from viewing it again.
Why is digital advertising important?
Digital advertising plays a pivotal role in any business’s marketing strategy for various reasons, with perhaps the most significant being the increasing amount of time consumers spend connected to the Internet via their computers, smartphones, and smart home devices. On average, an American household has access to over 10 connected devices.1 The ubiquity of digital platforms enables marketers to engage with audiences in diverse contexts. Whether individuals are browsing online for products, streaming a TV show, visiting favorite websites, or using social media, digital ads provide the opportunity to connect with consumers during various activities throughout the day. This multi-contextual approach not only increases brand visibility but also lays the groundwork for potential future purchases as consumers may recall the brand when they are ready to make decisions about goods and services.
What are the different types of digital advertising?
Digital marketing encompasses various advertising formats, and among the most prevalent are:
(1) Search advertising- Search ads, also known as search engine marketing (SEM), are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs). These commonly consist of text-based advertisements that appear either above or alongside organic search results.
(2) Display advertising- Online display ads incorporate textual and visual components, including images or animations, and can be featured on websites, applications, and various devices. These ads are presented within or next to the content of a website.
(3) Online video advertising- Video ads online leverage a video format. Out-stream video ads are positioned in locations akin to display ads—on websites, apps, and devices. In-stream video ads, on the other hand, manifest before, during, or after video content.
(4) Streaming media advertising- Referred to as over-the-top (OTT), these video ads constitute a distinct category, appearing within streaming media content distributed over the Internet, independent of satellite or cable services.
(5) Audio advertising- In the realm of digital advertising, audio ads refer to advertisements that are played before, during, or after online audio content, such as streaming music or podcasts.
(6) Social media advertising- Social media ads are displayed on social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn.
How do digital ads work?
The question, “How do digital ads work?” doesn’t have a singular answer due to the diverse range of digital ad formats. These formats encompass ads that are easy to generate and deploy, alongside more intricate ones that demand advanced tools. Furthermore, various ad types cater to diverse budget levels, featuring distinct pricing models and targeting approaches.
(1) Publishing digital ads- The publication of digital advertisements depends on the specific ad type. Some ads allow you to buy advertising space directly from the publisher, securing a spot on a particular website or platform. For instance, ads like Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products exclusively appear on Amazon. Alternatively, digital ads can be acquired programmatically through automated processes. Programmatic advertising involves the automated buying and selling of digital ad inventory, encompassing display and video advertising. Utilizing a demand-side platform (DSP) facilitates the automated procurement and oversight of digital ad space from various publishers. On the publisher’s side, a supply-side platform or sell-side platform (SSP) is employed to automate the sale and management of their advertising inventory.
(2) Cost of digital advertising- The pricing of digital advertising is diverse and depends on the chosen format. A prevalent pricing model is cost-per-click (CPC) or pay-per-click (PPC), where payment occurs for each click on the ad. Another model is cost-per-mille (CPM), signifying the cost per thousand impressions, where you pay a specified amount for every 1,000 times your ad is displayed.
Alternatively, you may opt for other payment structures, such as compensating for desired actions resulting from your ad, like someone signing up for your email list or downloading your eBook. Given the various metrics for measuring digital advertising effectiveness—impressions, clicks, conversions to sales, and more—pricing strategies can be customized to align with the specific objectives of the advertisement.
(3) Targeting for digital ads- As previously mentioned, digital advertising exhibits a higher level of precision compared to traditional advertising methods. Various techniques are employed to align advertisements with specific audiences, depending on the ad type. For instance, search ads target particular search terms, while ads can also be tailored to align with shopping signals. These signals include audiences who have previously purchased products similar to yours or have shown an interest in the type of product you offer.
This robust matching capability ensures that audiences encounter ads that are more likely to be relevant to them. By reaching out to relevant audiences, the effectiveness of your digital ads is enhanced, preventing unnecessary expenditures on serving ads to audiences uninterested in your product or service.
Digital advertising metrics:
Various performance aspects of digital ads can be meticulously gauged. Evaluating your digital advertising campaign involves scrutinizing key engagement metrics such as clicks (the number of ad clicks), impressions (the frequency of ad appearance), click-through rate (CTR, the percentage of impressions resulting in clicks), reach (the audience exposed to your ad), and video completion rate (the frequency viewers watch the entire video ad). Additionally, post-campaign analysis requires assessing outcome-oriented metrics including conversion rate (instances of desired actions post-ad viewing), ad-attributed sales (purchases linked to your ad with attribution models varying by ad type and service), return on ad spend (ROAS, revenue generated relative to the budget spent), return on investment (ROI, net profit earned relative to the budget spent), advertising cost of sales (ACOS, the ratio of ad spend to ad-attributed sales), and new-to-brand sales (purchases made by customers who had never previously bought from you).
Digital advertising best practices and tips:
Crafting a successful digital advertising strategy may seem intricate, but adhering to a few essential best practices can set you on the right path:
(1) Target the Right Audience: Leverage the precision of digital advertising targeting to connect with audiences that are highly likely to find your ad relevant. By doing so, you increase the chances of meaningful engagement.
(2) Monitor Performance Actively: Unlike traditional ad formats, digital ads offer real-time performance metrics. Stay vigilant about your campaign’s progress to discern what works and what doesn’t. This ensures optimal efficiency in allocating your advertising budget.
(3) Constantly Test and Optimize: The flexibility of digital ads allows for customization at every level, including copy, visuals, audience segments, and budget allocation. Continuous testing of these variables is key to maximizing performance. Make optimization an integral part of your campaign execution.
(4) Embrace Authenticity: As digital ads evolve in sophistication, so does your audience. Online consumers are discerning, making it crucial to avoid low-effort copy or irrelevant content. Infuse authenticity into all facets of your digital advertising strategy—visual assets, messaging, and audience selection—to genuinely connect with and engage your audience.