Over the past 3.5 years, we’ve helped a number of clients, in a variety of industries, of various profit status, and of different sizes, develop, launch, and analyze online advertising campaigns. The objectives of these clients were also quite diverse. Some simply wanted to create awareness of a new brand, product, or product line. Others, wanted to generate what’s known in the online advertising world as “conversions.” Conversions occur when an individual who is presented with an online ad, clicks on the ad, lands on the advertiser’s web site and then takes a desired action such as making a purchase or donation, signing up for a newsletter, or completing and submitting a contact or inquiry form.
Regardless of an advertiser’s campaign objectives, one of the very first questions that needs to be answered when laying out plans for a campaign and deciding what advertising vehicles to use is, “at the time my campaign launches, will my target audiences be actively searching (via a search engine query) for information related to my product or service?” For example, if a non-profit organization wants to sell tickets to a holiday fundraising event, but doesn’t believe individuals residing in the right geography and who have interests related to the nature of event are aware of the event or would be searching for information on it, then a paid search campaign — a campaign where you pay to have your ad presented to searchers entering appropriate terms into a search engine — to generate event ticket sales is unlikely to be effective or a good use of marketing/promotional $$$.
The same theory described above applies to promoting a product or service that is brand new — not just to the advertiser’s own product and service line-up, we mean one that neither the advertiser nor a competitor has offered in the past. If a product or service is a new offering for an advertiser, but a competitor has offered a similar product or service in the past, then likely the advertiser’s target audience is aware of the product or service and will be searching on it via a search engine like Google or Bing. But, if a product or service has never been available to the desired target audience before from either the advertiser or the advertiser’s competitors, a paid search campaign shouldn’t be expected to yield strong results. In this case, a “display” campaign where you get your ad in front of audiences who are either reading online content related to your product or service, have interests related to your product or service, or who visit Web sites that are relevant to your product or service, makes a lot more sense.
A caveat to the above thinking about paid search being an appropriate means of advertising a product or service that has been available to target audiences in the past because of an advertiser or a competitor of the advertiser offering it, is the following. Particularly with B2B products and services — those sold by one business to another business — the choice regarding from whom to buy products and services is often based on existing relationships and professional networks/networking. CEOs, CFOS, CIOs, and other corporate senior management, as well as small business owners, looking to engage other businesses for products and services may simply look to their existing professional relationships, or reach out to their professional network for referrals. Therefore, before launching a paid search campaign, the advertiser should also give thought to whether or not they think their target audience would be looking to identify a vendor for their particular product or service via a search engine query, or if sales are more likely to be relationship-driven.
Advertisers should also be cautious about running paid search campaigns just because they see their competitors doing so. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if a competitor’s paid search ads are generating good results for them. They may be running ads and their sales results may simultaneously be impressive, but there could be one or several other marketing activities responsible for generating sales vs. paid search generating them.
If you’ve read our other blog or social media posts related to the topics of paid search and online advertising, in general, you know that we believe that paid search is an excellent opportunity to get in front of target audiences who are actively searching for relevant product or service information. And, we love the fact that advertisers only pay for advertising when individuals click on their ad and end up on their Web site vs. paying for ad “impressions” each time their ad is shown. Plus, certainly, paid search can improve where an advertiser falls in the list of search results presented by a search engine in response to an appropriate search query. Nonetheless, as we’ve outlined above, paid search isn’t for everyone. Banner advertising where you purchase advertising directly from one or several Web sites that your target audience is likely to visit, or display advertising, described above, might be your best online advertising options. We’d welcome helping you decide whether paid search advertising, display advertising, banner advertising, all three of them, or none of them, are the right fit for your marketing campaign objectives, so reach out to us any time for a complimentary discussion.