Over the last couple of years, the worlds of marketing and advertising have been experiencing a rather tumultuous shifting of focus and resources. For the most part, this fast moving trajectory of change revolves around the movement away from traditional ads such as television and print, and toward digital ads such as those on search and social. While there are a number of reasons for these substantial changes, the two most obvious and important are the increased use of the internet in practically every aspect of our lives, along with the targeted and data driven capabilities that digital ads offer. Internet use is so widespread that 93% of people ages 18-49 use it, 81% of those 50-64, and 58% of people who are 65+. The effectiveness of digital ads including video is evidenced by the fact that “…like-for-like ROI is 50% higher in online video than linear TV.” While television and print certainly maintain their use in specific circumstances, they are increasingly becoming an afterthought, if that at all.
In today’s discussion we will explain some of the main reasons why digital advertising is fast becoming the main avenue for ad spend. We will also contrast how digital sets itself apart from traditional ad platforms and how these differences translate into powerful capabilities, features, and opportunities not present in the traditional setting. In addition, we will expound further on some of the listed advantages in a more detailed and individual basis in subsequent discussions.
Low Barriers for Entry –
What is arguably the greatest differential between digital ads and traditional ones is cost. This difference is both in terms of lower cost for entry as well as the ability to conduct ongoing ad testing. Digital ads win on both of these fronts. When it comes to barriers for entry – for most of the popular digital ad platforms, such as AdWords, Facebook, and Twitter; campaigns can be initiated at a very small cost. The fact that such low initial investment is needed, allows for fledgling businesses to embark on advertising strategies without committing their entire chest of resources. In contrast, traditional media platforms such as print and television advertising require substantial initial commitment, thereby making it more difficult for new businesses that may want to test the market and/or vary their ads.
In part because of the low initial costs and in part because of the native capabilities that make digital advertising unique, businesses can take advantage of in depth and continuous ad testing. Such diagnostics include trying different ad platforms, designs, and target settings. Since there is no large and upfront commitment required, ad spend can be divied up and segmented in practically any formulation one might decide upon. For example, a new business owner might decide to test two different ad designs via AdWords and another two via Facebook. After running these ads at a modest cost, in depth analytics will show which platform performed best as well as also provide the valuable data required to further fine tune the campaign strategy. In contrast, traditional media platforms such as print and television advertising require substantial resources to be devoted for each ad display. Therefore, segmenting campaigns by trying different TV spots and commercial formulation requires a much greater devotion of money. Even more importantly though, traditional advertising mediums do not provide the in depth diagnostics and analytics that are so commonly found with digital ads. For this reason alone, digital is leaps and bounds ahead of the traditional and dare we say, “old” way of marketing and advertising.
Data Driven Targeting Including Intent –
While this next feature of digital advertising really flows from the testing feature discussed previously, because of it’s importance it needs to be addressed individually. Digital ads allow for a campaign to be targeted specifically by location and demographic. While traditional ad platforms also offer targeting capabilities based on these metrics such as by running advertising on TV programs or in print publications catering to a specific location or demo, they cannot accomplish to the exacting standards that digital can. Furthermore, digital allows for the targeting and re-targeting of potential customers based on their search history and interests. For example, say you have searched for a pair of running shoes in google or if you are part of a running group on Facebook, digital ads can dynamically be displayed to you based on these criteria. Traditional platforms are unable to offer such laser targeting primarily because they do not have the almost frighteningly exhaustive amount of data that internet behemoths like Google and Facebook hold.
Large Potential Customer Base –
As previously cited, with 93% of the 18-49 demographic online, chances are that there is a huge audience interested in what you have to offer. Digital ads allow you to target this burgeoning and ever increasing audience. This is probably not news to you, but traditional platforms such as TV and print have been seeing an increasingly downward spiral of audience numbers.
Detailed Performance Indicators & Tracking Metrics –
While performance indicators and tracking also tie into tracking and targeting, they also fulfill an aspect that makes digital advertising stand out over its traditional counterparts. Digital allows for marketers to follow the customer journey from initial interaction with an ad all the way through the sales funnel and beyond. Whether your KPI is getting customer emails or a call your office, each can be meticulously tracked. As stated, with this extremely useful data, campaigns can be tweaked and improved for better future performance. Traditional platforms, while capable of providing some tracking through codes and specific channels, do not come even close to the tracking metrics that digital ads provide.
Native Ads Including Influencer Marketing –
While digital advertising is unique in the powerful data it provides, it is also unique in the opportunity it provides by way of native advertising and related influencer marketing. While traditional platforms also provide native and influencer marketing opportunities, the effectiveness and possibilities are much more present in the digital arena. This is both because of the greater number of platforms available as well as the methods that allow for a more mainstreamed, and hence more “native experience.” It is no wonder then that native and influencer marketing are seeing a huge surge in popularity among marketers. So popular in fact that in 2018, it is estimated that $21 billion will be spent on native ads.
Varied Platforms –
The practically never ending possibilities in terms of platform choice for digital marketing also makes it more attractive than traditional in many circumstances. This is because of the numerous avenues available such as the most famous platforms like: Adwords, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as websites and other lesser known platforms. Each has their unique selling points, advantages and disadvantages. For example, while Google’s AdWords platform is a great tool to reach users in “micro moments,” Facebook might be a better avenue for targeting the members of a group relevant to your product or service. Further, in addition to the seemingly endless choice of platform, marketers have the ability to segment further upon specific “platforms within platforms.”
And now for the holy grail… Digital ads in many (but not all) situations provide a superior ROI. When a campaign is executed properly, the results that one sees from their digital campaigns in terms of returns can almost be surprising they are so good. That is not to say that traditional ads do not provide great results if executed properly as well. Rather, it is simply that in many situations the ROI and performance of digital ads are far better. For example, Google reports that businesses advertising on AdWords make an average of $2 on every $1 spent. Traditional ads are great at creating overall brand awareness, but when it comes to targeted conversions, our experience has shown digital to be king.
We look forward to dissecting further in later discussions some of the features that make digital ads so unique and powerful as a tool within your overall marketing strategy.