What’s more, you also need to pick the right ad formats: search advertising, display advertising, mobile advertising, social advertising, native advertising…
Adding to this complexity is the fact that ads are delivered in a multi-device world: computers/laptops, tablets, mobile phones (and the next generation of smart watches is already on the way).
With so many options at hand, businesses are facing several challenges:
1. Where do you even start if you are new to online advertising?
2. How do you scale an existing advertising strategy?
3. How do you manage all of the above without wasting time and ad dollars?
Let’s start by looking at the top ad formats and ad networks in 2015.
Understanding Ad Formats: Search, Display, Social
There are two main types of online advertising: search engine advertising and display advertising. Even though social advertising is usually described as a separate format, it’s basically a form of display advertising.
Both search and display ads are available on desktop, tablet and mobile devices. The mobile segment is currently outgrowing all other segments in online advertising.
The implication for advertisers: a mobile-friendly/responsive web design is a required (not optional) ingredient in 2015. It’s even a must-have if you don’t advertise online since it affects your organic search ranking on mobile devices.
Search Engine Advertising
Search engine advertising continues to make up the largest share of total online advertising spend.
If you understand the unique nature of search ads, this doesn’t come as a surprise. The format basically allows you to put an ad in front of a person that is actively searching for what you offer. In other words, it’s highly targeted advertising.
Compared to display advertising, search engine advertising is characterised by higher click through rates and conversion rates but also higher cost per clicks.
Google Adwords and Bing Ads dominate the search advertising space. Both Google and Bing also deliver ads in smaller search engines (Ask, DuckDuckGo etc.) through partnerships.
Display advertising is the second largest ad format based on advertising spend. Google Adwords is also one of the main players in the display advertising space. Others include Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and advertise.com.
Compared to search engine advertising, display advertising is characterised by lower click through rates and typically lower conversion rates but also lower cost per clicks.
There are several different display advertising formats:
- Banner ads
- Video ads
- Mobile ads in apps
- Mobile ads on websites
- Social ads
High-performing display advertising campaigns normally depend on contextually relevant websites. Recently more and more display advertising focusses on targeting user profiles based on interests, demographics or remarketing cookies.
Display advertising is typically more complex to setup, manage and optimise. However, this additional effort often generates good advertising ROIs.