When advertising is mentioned in the online marketing context the first image to jump to the readers minds is that of a banner or Google ads. In this page I’ll shed some light on most of the known forms of advertising to give you an idea about what you are dealing with, but most importantly is how to use online advertising to better improve your website traffic and hopefully your sales and revenue.
Banners: This is the oldest form of advertising known to Internet users. Banners come in different sizes and shapes, and they all serve the purpose of delivering your short message to the target audience so that they might visit your website. A banner could be a sophisticated flash animation or movie, an animated gif image, or a static image. All banners are hyper-linked to the website of the advertiser. Banners can be displayed on websites and in emails as well.
Text ads: The most famous example is Google’s sponsored ads that show on top and/or to the right side of search queries submitted to Google’s, or it’s partners’, search engines. They also include the massive network of Google Adsense publishers who elected to show Google ads on their websites as a monetizing method. Other forms of text ads are those shown between the lines of website contents with a double line under some words that trigger text ad creatives. All text ads are hyper-linked through a mediator tracking url to the advertisers’ web pages.
Full page ads: In this case there are no mediators between your target audience and the advertiser’s page, they just see it. Usually full page ads show in the form of a pop-up/under, or the visitors of certain sites have to go through the advertisers’ landing pages before they get to the content they original were trying to access.
Commercial emails: Those are emails sent to a group of people who opted to receive the news of their favorite store or merchant (like Gap and Old Navy). Usually those emails include promotion material such as printable coupons (more on that later). Commercial emails are different from the spam emails you receive from senders you don’t know and without your permission.
Paid blog posts: Those are blog posts written specially to promote your web page. They usually are either reviews to the advertisers’ products, or just a simple recommendation. These posts could either be paid straight by the advertiser on a per-post basis or through an affiliate program that pays the bloggers per sale or lead.
These are the forms of ads. Let’s talk now about the types of advertising:
According to the purpose of advertising you can safely categorize online advertising into two groups:
1. Branding advertisement: The main purpose of branding advertising is to print the image of the advertised product in the minds of the audience, and to get the brand name to replace in some cases the name of the original product, like Kleenex and Coca Cola. These two examples of advertising aim only at making people aware of the brand and to get them to make the decision of buying the advertised products later whenever they go shopping for this group of products.
2. Direct response advertisement: Direct response advertisement mainly aims at getting people to pick up the phone or click the “add to cart” and pay to purchase the advertised product or service.
An ad copy is the content of the piece of advertising that the audience will see. This content should deliver your message to the audience, and the faster it does it the better. People are exposed to a huge volume of advertisement every day and they eyes are trained on ignoring what seems to be an ad even if it was not. Therefore there are some criteria that makes an ad effective.
1. Eye catching. An ad has to grab the attention of the audience quickly. For instance if a banner ad is to be served on a website it has to stand out and not be blended with the background. An eye catching ad could be an image that has a contrast with the background (the page it’s served on), an animation video (with sound if possible), or some text in handwriting in the middle of a blank area. A text ad could stand out if it is, or part of it, is bold, italicized, and/or underlined in the middle of normal text.
2. Engaging: The attention that has been given to the ad should be invested properly, and the best way to keep the eyes glued to an ad is by engaging with the viewer in a way or another. On of the examples is a video ad with sound because the human eye can spot motion easier than stationary objects, and the sound works as a conversational simulation to grab more attention from the person than just the eyes. Another example of engaging is multiple choice questions. Everyone who went to school is trained on answering questions when asked until they became second nature to most of us. An advertiser could capitalize on this, and some already have.
3. Complements the context: According to a study conducted by a team in University of Toronto in 2010, the behavior studies of Internet users in response to banner ads have shown more response (click through rate) to ads that complement the websites they found them on. On the other hand, those ads that take over the screen had more response rate when they had nothing to do with the site they are served on. One thing is common sense, don’t advertise pork on a website that serves Muslims or Jews, likewise don’t advertise for weight loss on a site that serves bodybuilders, or pornography on a scripture website. It’s not only offensive, but also you get negative response.