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Digital advertising begins and ends with the computer

We’ve been very active over the course of the last few months. Many, many consults with local businesses about how they can get more out of their digital advertising. Of course, these meetings are always part education, part salesmanship, and always enlightening.

In many of these consults, we answer a lot of the same questions about digital advertising and how it works. In fact, these questions keep us grounded because we often forget what other people don’t know. This way, we slow down, explain the process and reassure them that their campaign will be constructed the right way. It keeps us focused on the fundamentals so that we don’t stray too much form what works.

Most business owners think of digital advertising in terms of traditional media. When will the spot run? How much does it cost? How do I know people will see it? We hear these a lot in new client consults. So this week, we’d like to clear up a few of the most common misconceptions about digital advertising and how it works differently than print, radio, TV and other traditional channels.

You Have More Control Over What You Spend

Cost is first and foremost on the mind of most business owners. Everyone wants to know how much a digital advertising campaign costs. “How much do you want to spend?” is always my response. It’s a disappointing, if true, answer.

Realistically, you want to spend as much as is feasible so long as you’re seeing a positive return on investment. At least, that’s how Google does it, and they’re responsible for most ad spending online.

That’s not a good enough answer for most people, though. Businesses need fixed costs, so we figured out a workaround. What we end up doing is finding that inflection point of largest reach for lowest budget and recommending that to clients as a starting point. If things work, we ramp up. If they don’t, we change gears.

Because of this flexibility even after the campaign begins, we can produce results with microscopic budgets. Sometimes it just takes longer because we don’t get all the data we’d like with a more robust spend. Still, that lack of commitment is a big reason so many of our clients try digital advertising campaigns and stay with them.

You Get More Than One Ad

Recently, we had the privilege of meeting with one of our new clients about a Facebook ad campaign. After explaining how the platform works, how targeting happens and how billing differs from campaigns with larger set spends. Then, the client asked me what was going to be in the ad and who would write it.

And there it was. “The ad.” As in the singular ad we would run. They thought we were only going to have one message in the campaign. And that’s when I had to explain that’s not how it works at all.

Since I’ve been doing this for so long, I always forget about this one. When a lot of people think of ads, they think of a single fixed entity that multiple people see. You only get one shot with traditional advertising (unless you have lots of money to spend on multiple ads).

With digital advertising, you can have as many creative ads as you want. We tend to like to have at least a dozen running per ad grouping, if not more. This helps us test messaging and optimize for the best results. At the same time, we change up the creative a lot more frequently than you might with a TV or even a print ad. Facebook ads tend to have a shelf life of around a week before we see diminishing returns. Part of why it pays to have someone like us look after your accounts for you.

You See Results in Real Time

One of the nice things about digital advertising is that your campaign works immediately. There’s limited lag time, especially if you’re promoting something with a direct call to action like an online store. Everything happens immediately, with the data to prove it.

This wealth of data separates digital advertising from traditional. Not only is there sufficient data for great targeting options in most cases (albeit less accurate than we’d like to think), you get a ton of data on what’s happening with your ads. All those impressions, clicks, conversions and the like can really give you a picture for how well your messages and products are received. It’s great feedback and can really help you build a better brand for yourself.

Because you see the results as they happen and can adjust accordingly, you can also measure your return on investment accurately. You know you spent X and it brought in Y. So long as Y > X, you’re in business. And that way, there’s really no arguing over whether or not the ad campaign worked. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

This right here is our favorite part of digital advertising campaigns. Transparency. What you see is what you get. If all the analytics are clicking together, you can track a customer’s digital journey from impression all the way through to the sale. That makes our job as proof creators so much easier. And it makes the campaign that much more valuable.

Digital Advertising Can Work For You

Even if you’ve tried advertising in the past, and even if that was digital in nature, like AdWords or Facebook, and it hasn’t worked, it’s highly likely we can make it work better for you. Digital advertising isn’t the same as traditional advertising like TV or radio or even billboards. It’s a new thing for a new economy and should be understood as such.

We know the rules of digital advertising and create campaigns that meet your budget and return their initial cost over time, showing our work every step of the way. So long as your expectations are set for what it is, not what it isn’t, digital advertising can be a very valuable tool in your marketing toolbox.

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