Ad Platforms that Suits you
Choosing the right ad platform greatly depends on the type of business you advertise, your potential target audiences and available budget, among other factors. Common scenarios include the following:
- Location based business, e.g. a Florida boat rental business may buy Google SERP keywords such as “fishing boat rentals in key west” and limit the ad audience to Florida only (i.e. prospective clients who are already in the area)
- Multinational businesses looking to boost brand awareness can advertise on facebook targeting only countries, areas and demographics that qualify to any given prerequisite defined audience
- An app or game developer targeting international users can opt to advertise with other ad supported competing apps, use Microsoft’s Bing ads network (available, among other placements, in all Windows casual games) or place ads directly within the the Apple App store or Google Play ecosystem
These are just a few simple examples, used by advertisers everyday, everywhere. Online and digital advertising is not limited to these platforms, diversifying to other platforms is often recommended, based on their performance as measured by Google Analytics or competing analysis systems such as Matomo, native ad measurement protocols and other tools.
Performance Based Campaigns - Best Suited for Short Term ROI
“Most bang for your buck” is best epitomized by performance campaigns, i.e. Google search engine results ads (or preferably organic search listings, if you can get them). Average users often cannot differentiate between organic (thought to be more relevant) results and paid ads, especially on mobile devices. This fact only enhances the effectiveness of paid ads, negating the once advantageous effect of organic results.
ROI, or performance based online digital campaigns offer a big advantage over any other campaign type: They are usually easier to measure and the ability to determine the return on every dollar spent. Typically, they also offer much higher conversion rates when compared to other campaign types. While Google Analytics tracks mostly the last click and its projected results, other systems track the entire customer journey across many devices and interactions to try and predict the overall contribution to a conversion. GA also offers this kind of functionality via attribution models, though most users will likely find it confusing and hard to use.
Branding and Exposure Campaigns
For many advertisers, correct audience targeting may determine the difference between a failed or successful campaign. The more relevant your target audience is, the more chances it has to succeed. Pinpointing your audience is especially critical for those with lower advertising budgets, as big brands can often opt to reach the biggest audience possible, without showing positive ROI.
While influencers on TikTok or Instagram may sometimes provide valuable exposure for certain niches, more often than not, accurate targeting on rival platforms such as YouTube or Facebook have a far greater potential in the long term aspects of your brand awareness efforts, and with better return on your advertising expenditure.
Unlike performance, brand awareness campaigns are harder to track and associate the desired conversion with the correct source. Considerable discrepancies between analytics and ad tools may occur, even when choosing more suitable attribution models.
Remarketing is the practice of reaching out to potential customers who were already exposed to your brand, typically by visiting your app or website, but without converting. With Dynamic remarketing, either on Facebook or Google, you can show these potential clients custom tailored ads, including specific products they may be interested in.
While remarketing offers great opportunities, some potential clients can find them intrusive, and thus reflect badly on your brand. To make the most of remarketing ads and offset any negative effects, we usually use distinct and unique offers within these ads, ones the users were never exposed to when visiting your digital asset originally.
Mobile or Desktop Advertising
It was way back in May 2015, when Google first announced mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches for the first time. Today, most people know instinctively that online advertising is almost synonymous with mobile advertising, but we’re not quite there yet. Yes, most of your target audiences are likely using their phone to conduct preliminary research, either with a dedicated app or using a mobile browser, but many still are using their home or office computer to conduct in-depth research and finalizing orders.
This common practice can have a negative impact on analytics and measurement protocols, as users may be logged and identified on one device, but not the other, even when using modern solutions like Google Analytics 4.
Other than user interface and screen size experience, apps share many of the same aspects as traditional websites. Some coding languages such as Flutter even offer an almost unified environment for website and app development.
Almost any ad platform offers some sort of dedicated app advertising solution, but most are essentially identical to other campaign types, apart from your landing page destination, which for most apps will be a download page in either Google or Apple app stores. App owners can also choose to advertise within the ecosystem itself, e.g. App store or play Store, but in either case, you can expect analytics and attribution discrepancies, as with any other platform.
When mentioning apps, most people automatically assume mobile, and rightly so. But these days, apps are everywhere: windows programs are now referred to as apps, but perhaps more importantly, so do TV and IOT apps. Your Samsung TV may have a native Tizen OS app (i.e. Netflix) or just a modified website able to detect a remote and not just a mouse, but so does any other Android TV based device, including other devices like Roku. Measuring user engagement with these devices poses other challenges we cannot cover here.
Advanced Targeting Options
Both Google and Facebook acquired their status as leading online ad platforms mainly by offering unprecedented precise audience targeting. While other platforms offer broad appeal accompanied by massive exposure (TikTok comes to mind), only these two behemoths offer the opportunity to target an audience based on precise age, demographics, country of origin and many, many other targeting options.
Audience targeting is perhaps the most effective advertising form (behind performance search ads), providing you chose the right audiences and cultivated a dedicated Facebook (and possibly Twitter) communities. If you want to grant a birthday gift to page followers, for example, currently only Facebook Ad Manager can accommodate with maximum accuracy.
How Effective are your Online Campaigns
Tracking online campaigns can prove to be more challenging than what many advertisers expect. Usually, you can track a campaign using an external tool, Google analytics being the most obvious choice, or via the advertising platform itself. You can also choose other analytics tools, some of which we cover in this page. No matter what platform you use, discrepancies will occur, sometimes leaving you baffled and wondering why one system reports x, while another reports y.
The short answer is that ad platforms have an intrinsic interest in associating any conversion to the platform itself, thus proving its effectiveness. A longer answer may take into account the fact that many users use multiple devices and browsers, some of which lack login credentials, so analytic platforms cannot track the end user properly. Most analytics platforms also use different attribution models, making user actions even more complicated to measure and assess.
The bottomline is that flaws exist, what matters at the end of the day are a few key parameters:
- Increased relevant traffic (i.e. more sales or leads in the short or long term)
- Increase in user engagement (better engagement rate and return traffic)
- A/B tests to improve any lacking parameters
Other Ad Platforms
Google is the most dominant search engine, possibly the only one that matters. This is a given for most people, but other search engines exist, some nearly as influential with prospective buyers and sellers. Top Amazon, eBay or AliExpress rankings can make or break a business, as does YouTube (long considered the 2nd most searched site) and many other large sites with search functionality.
Sites and apps looking to challenge the Google / Facebook duopoly ad ecosystem may not offer the same pinpoint targeting options, but they do offer a chance to appeal to other prospective clients, and some platforms such as Microsoft’ Bing, with its Windows supported ads and LinkedIn social network, can pose a challenge to the traditional ad platforms in the future.
Ad Quality Score
Generally speaking, the ad quality score of any Google or Facebook ad relies on these basic metrics:
- Past engagements or history clicks. Meaning how many users have clicked your ad in the past and found it useful.
- Text and copy quality and relevancy (HTML tags such as title / description and Hx included, with added importance in many cases)
- Site speed and mobile compatibility
- Text quality of the ads and its relevance to the text on your landing page
Other factors do influence ad quality, but these are more critical than most. In theory, at least, the better the quality score is, the less you pay for every occurrence and the more you get in total conversions.
Landing Pages - the Ultimate Point of Sale
Every campaign leads users to a landing page. This landing page may be a dedicated page on your website, a Google Play Store app install page or any other landing page. The text on the page, the customer reviews it may feature, its graphics design and the ways in which it conveys your brand’s call to action can have a lasting effect on your advertising efforts.