Okay, so this is an argument as old as the online marketing industry. Both the SEM fanatics and the Display disciples can raise excellent points. As both of these formats of advertising offer huge advantages to a business, it isn't likely that the debate will be resolved any time soon.
Whilst internet advertising has made it easier than ever for professionals and businesses to influence their customers and convince them to convert, the question of which type of online marketing is the most effective is a difficult one to answer.
The Marketing Of The Past
Before the internet, and even during the period where it was still finding its feet, companies would spread their advertising budget across a range of different channels. For example, a campaign might include a TV advert, a few full-page spreads in industry magazines, a billboard placement here and there, a radio advert and maybe a few public sponsorships.
Due to the lack of accessible analytics available, however, it was almost impossible for any professional marketer to know just how effective the different parts of their campaign were without a slow rollout of each individual component. How their investments motivated and engaged with their consumers was often worth more than money, and led to the importance that the current advertising industry places on information.
That is one of the major reasons why the internet has become such an essential tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Just by measuring the clicks of a mouse, the visits on a certain page, the response to different forms of content and A/B split testing, companies can understand how effective and successful different campaigns are in a matter of moments. This can make it much easier to justify minute changes to ad copy, site content adaptation and changes of direction across the entire campaign to business leaders in real-time.
Sunil Gupta, the Edward W. Carter professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, said that:
“A lot of companies have put more and more money into online marketing because online marketing is more measurable, as opposed to television where you put in millions of dollars and you have no idea what you get for it,"
In-Depth Analysis Of Online Marketing Might Not Be As Easy As You Think
If you have any experience of internet advertising, you'll know that there are multiple types of advertising that can take place online. The variety of different ad formats that you can utilise can make it simultaneously easier and also more difficult to calculate the return on investment for specific avenues of audience targeting and engagement.
Certainly, the most measurable form of web marketing is search advertising – which is a form of marketing that is directly linked to the search terms used by a potential customer. These ads can be directly translated into impressions, clicks and conversion and are extremely easy to track and analyse. They are a quick and easy way to get your products in front of your customers and to enjoy quick conversions.
Display advertising, which includes banner and other graphics-based adverts, are much more visible but, on average, are less likely to result in a direct, instantaneous conversion. Thanks to their highly-visible nature, however, they are a fantastic tool when it comes to raising brand awareness and increasing the likelihood of an eventual conversion.
Perhaps the most difficult to track are the benefits of search engine optimisation, which is a long-term and comprehensive site strategy. Designed to make your site appear higher in search engine results pages, SEO is a form of online marketing that is often overlooked as an actual advertising strategy and should, instead, be a natural part of your site's online presence.
Search Ads Tend To Steal The Credit
When you take an in-depth look at a customer's behaviour, they will typically decide to search for their chosen product once they have chosen to buy it. That means that search adverts tend to gather all the credit for the sale itself and leave other forms of digital marketing out in the cold.
It is perhaps easiest to imagine online marketing as a funnel, with search ads at the bottom. Display advertisements and SEO efforts tend to occupy a higher space on the funnel and are essential when it comes to driving consumers towards the paid advertising option. With that in mind, it should be expected that display and SEO strategies receive at least some of the credit for every sale that occurs – unfortunately for professionals who are really passionate about the roles that they play in the eventual conversion, they don't.
Digital marketers and other advertisers tend to call this issue an “attribution problem", which means that you cannot tell which adverts contributed to the eventual decision to purchase the product.
How Do Businesses Respond To Attribution Problems?
We're glad you asked! Typically, the most common reactions are that a company will waste their advertising budget in a very 'ad hoc' manner, which involves throwing money into multiple forms of advertising, with a particular focus on the one they expect to enjoy the highest ROI from, or that they will limit their budget to one form of marketing.
Either of these reactions can have hugely negative effects on a business online presence and profitability. Some businesses might go as far as to run experiments with willing participants to determine which type of advert is more likely to make them convert. Whilst that experiment might be extremely useful in determining which is the more immediate converter, this information won't transfer to an online advertising campaign, which is often a long process.
In fact, the only way to truly determine the effectiveness of certain avenues of engagement is to watch the effects of your efforts over time. By evolving your marketing strategy over time, you will be able to work out your ideal distribution of your budget between the various forms of marketing.
The Major Advantages Of Display Advertising
More and more businesses are starting to realise that pay-per-click and search engine optimisation strategies need to work together for the best effects, but fewer businesses than ever are effectively using display as part of their overall campaigns.
Adverts of this nature offer a range of advantages over other techniques, and are best used to work together with them.
- They are an effective means of attracting potential customers to your site. As they are hosted on third-party websites, you will be able to present your brand to a wider portion of your target audience.
- Other forms of online targeting are forced to rely on keywords and keyword synonyms – with display, you can let your images, design and products speak for themselves.
- By targeting relevant websites, you can appeal to an audience who might already be interested in products similar to those you offer. This can be a great way to get your business some exposure, targeted at an audience that is likely to want to want to learn more.
It needs to be understood, however, that this method rarely leads to immediate sales or significant conversions. However, it is an excellent tool when it comes to presenting your brand identity. It can also offer great benefits to a business' social media, by driving interested traffic to your brand's online presence.
Where Should You Be Spending Your Ad Budget?
Before you decide to invest your entire ad budget in one type of campaign, you need to ensure that you have goals that you intend to reach. Once you've decided on where you would like your company to be at the end of the strategy, compared to where it is now, you can start to consider where your budget is best spent.
Here at Promote, we are firm believers in holistic marketing strategies which culminate in a high-quality effort to achieve a greater standing in the marketplace. You need to start off on a level basis, and evolve your campaign over the following months and years, to the extent that you might not recognise your original budget plan by this time next year.
If you're concerned about your advertising budget, then be assured that we can help you to set up a strategy that truly represents your brands interests. With our professional team behind you, you can be assured of the highest quality results across your business' marketing efforts.