“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”
— Don Draper, an advertising executive on the television show Mad Men
Advertising follows us like a shadow, though people may not always be aware of it. To get their messages across, advertisers use every possible channel, from the traditional ones, such as television, print, and radio, to those that are more exclusive, such as private events or partnerships with celebrities to endorse products.
As the remarkable craft of ’90s commercials started to change on the eve of a new millennium, advertisers were empowered to create more engaging, yet subtler ads. And the best part is that now they can better target people who are truly interested in a product or service.
Surprisingly, most people still think of advertising as mostly television commercials, radio ads, direct mail, and flyers. Today, marketing and advertising join forces, morphing into a digital model that has taken on many different forms, including:
Read on to learn about the different advertising options available to companies today, the pros and cons of each option, and a general explanation of costs (if it can be generalized). This article can serve as a guide for companies that want to advertise but aren’t sure of how to allocate their budget.
Before we dissect every type of digital ad, let’s take a step back and see what’s going on in the industry.
Digital ad spending was projected to hit $333.25 billion by the end of 2019. It will likely surpass 50 per cent of the global ad market for the very first time in its history. Experts predict that by 2023, digital ads will be dominating traditional advertising by owning 60 per cent of the global ad market. Google will keep its crown as the world’s largest digital ad seller in 2019 with 31.1 per cent of worldwide ad spending, which translates to $103.73 billion. Facebook is breathing down the search engine’s neck, boasting $67.37 billion in net ad revenues — which is impressive, considering its billion-dollar acquisition of Instagram in 2012.
Let’s take a look at more thought-provoking numbers.
As video content is becoming more influential, the big trinity — Google, YouTube, and Facebook — seem to control the digital advertising cosmos by gripping 66 per cent of digital ad spend. The expansion of these channels is impressive, as they represent 63 per cent of total ad spend in North America.
Another number that indicates the popularity of video content is that 65 per cent of companies boosted their video advertising in the last year. As new tech adoption penetrates consumers’ lives, advertisers are trying their hand at reaching audiences in new and unique ways. In fact, 44 per cent of advertisers are currently using smart TV technology to connect with their consumers, and 39 per cent make use of virtual assistants to get closer to their audience.
Advertising works best when your brand can meet your customers anywhere they are. A modern consumer, regardless of whether they represent a business, interacts with your brand across various channels and devices. Those interactions need to be personalized and to appear at the right place and at the right time.
Digital ads come in all shapes and sizes and allow you to instantly reach your audience and expand your brand presence.
Display ads are shown to users on sites that are part of the same advertising network. One of the most prominent display networks is, unsurprisingly, run by Google. These ads come in an array of formats, including text, images, video, and Flash, and can be used in two primary ways:
With the rise of the banner blindness phenomenon, in which “users have learned to ignore content that resembles ads, is close to ads, or appears in locations traditionally dedicated to ads,” display ads are giving way to other digital advertising formats.
You are likely familiar with the most popular social media platforms.
Facebook is a powerful social network, regardless of its recent security snafu. The key is to find a balance between offering content that will strengthen your brand with content that’s fun or interesting enough for your audience to share with their friends.
As attention spans toward advertising shorten, videos are gaining in popularity. YouTube has a few ad types on its menu. In-stream ads are shown to a viewer before the actual video starts. In-search and in-display ads come up directly in the platform’s search results as recommended videos. In-video overlay ads are banners that show up at the bottom of the streaming video.
A picture is worth a thousand words — or impressions. To run a successful Instagram ad, you need to make it look organic and do your audience research to make sure it fits seamlessly into the user’s feed.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter offers highly customizable and targeted advertising options. For example, promoted tweets are a form of paid ads that will show up in feeds of users who fit your criteria.
In Canada, Facebook is the most popular social media platform, so using social media ads on that site may be your best bet. However, you’ll only know what works after trial and error. After all, your ads on Instagram may have better conversions, even though it’s not as popular as some of the other platforms.
Search marketing ads come up in the search engine results pages when users query something online. This is paid advertising that is displayed above organic search results. Among all existing search engines, Google reigns supreme, and its advertising business is predicted to reach $211 billion by 2022. Apart from Google, there are additional search engines, including Bing and Yahoo, that also offer ad placement.
Often referred to as ads in disguise, native ads are camouflaged to look like part of the editorial flow of the page. They smoothly match the look, feel, and function of the media platform, and often appear as recommended content.
This ad type can include social media platforms because they allow companies to target a very specific group of users who have previously visited the company’s site. With retargeting, a tag or a piece of code, also called a cookie (or, specific to Facebook, a pixel), is placed on your website to register each user’s journey. Using the data from anonymously placed retargeting cookies, you can keep track of those window shoppers and display your retargeting ads to them as they browse other sites.
Video ads are on the rise. They are typically placed before, during, or after a video stream. Similar to what people experience while watching television, with video ads companies are given the opportunity to take advantage of precise targeting and tracking. The most popular platforms for video ads are social media networks, with YouTube at the top of the list.
While some marketers think digital advertising isn’t worth the effort, this type of advertising can help you reach your goals. When paired with other marketing strategies, ads can improve the performance of those activities and campaigns.
The key to digital advertising, just like other marketing campaigns, is accurate targeting. A lack of website traffic and targeting the wrong audience can leave even the most creative ad or landing page floundering. Consider which options work best with your audience, research how to use the channel for your company’s campaigns, then give it your best shot. As advertising evolves, marketing professionals must be willing to