Advertising gets a bad rap. But anyone who runs a business knows that it’s pertinent to increasing brand awareness, breaking into new markets, and showing off new products. If businesses stopped advertising, no one would hear about cool new spots in town, online sales and giveaways, or when the McRib is back. Imagine going to a McDonald’s and finding out you could have been feasting on that sweet, sweet barbecue sandwich for weeks, but you hadn’t seen any commercials for it.
Over 500 billion dollars were spent globally on advertising in 2017; a figure higher than most countries’ GDP in the same year. So, if advertising is so important for the world economy and the American way of life in general, why do people have such a distaste for it? People are probably uncomfortable with the idea of being subtly influenced psychologically and even more bothered by the seemingly endless barrage of commercials, billboards, and pop-ups we’ve grown accustomed to in the modern world. In fact, polls show approximately 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. But not all advertising is so tactless; digital marketing has emerged over the last several decades as an invaluable tool that is both unobtrusive to the user and provides efficient data and targeting for the advertiser. I was once averse to the idea of marketing, myself, so let me share with you how I came to change my mind.
If I were to come face-to-face with my sixteen-year-old self, they would probably be pretty disappointed in me. “Look at you,” he would squeak. “Working for an advertising company. You sold out.”
“Shut up,” I would reply. “What do you know? Your world is a lie. Disney makes Marvel and Star Wars movies now, and Donald Trump is president. Now go buy Bitcoin.”
You see, when I was younger I despised advertisers. How dare they steal my attention against my will; subject me to products I didn’t want. They buy up entire sides of buildings, interrupt my favorite television shows, and line the highways with endless billboards. What gives them the right? As with most young anarchists, I had only a rudimentary grasp of basic economics and my so-called rebellion against “the system” was hardly more than misdirected defiance against my parents’ politics.
I don’t even remember the first time I saw search engine marketing. So subtle and homogeneous, my eyes scanned over the ads as if they were organic results. Then, one day I noticed a small green “Ad.” I was stunned. An ad, I thought. How quaint. I would never click on them, of course. My values couldn’t be bought and sold, my search queries wouldn’t be added to the spreadsheets of tyranny, my clicks won’t fuel – Oh wait! That’s exactly what I’m looking for.
These ads were useful. They listened to what I searched for and provided me with the most relevant product they could find. Did they hit the mark one hundred percent of the time? Of course not. But the few irrelevant ads at the top were as easy to dismiss as the hundreds of organic results that also failed to catch my attention. These ads were not screaming for my attention, hoping to indoctrinate me with some twisted form of brand awareness; they were trying to answer the question I had come to Google to seek out.
That’s the thing about PPC marketing: if you don’t want to see an ad, we don’t want you to see it either. Where traditional advertising is paid for ahead of time, we pay for ads only when they’re clicked on. This creates an incentive to only serve ads to consumers who are likely to be interested in the product.
Think of it like this: billboards are like monkeys throwing excrement at the wall until something sticks and TV and radio ads are children at the grocery store screaming at their parents to buy them something. These unwieldy mediums are extremely impersonal and, to many people, quite intrusive. Sure, they know what general demographics they’re targeting. That’s why you get action figure commercials during Saturday morning cartoons instead of chronic back-pain pharmaceuticals. But what if you like toy trucks more than G.I. Joe or are having pains in your knees rather than your back? It is this problem exactly that a heavy-handed traditional media strategy cannot solve.
It is also the reason digital marketing flourishes and is growing every year. In fact, 2017 was the year digital ad spend finally topped TV advertisements. With $209 billion spent worldwide, digital marketing shows no signs of slowing down. Many large TV advertisers have yet to move a significant portion of their budget from the traditional form of advertising to digital. Once this happens, the gap between the two will be larger than other; some researchers even saying that, by 2020, fifty percent of all ad spend will be used for digital channels. With all this capital being funneled into the industry, somebody needs to run the campaigns, to make sure the ads are going where they are needed: and that’s where I come in.
The paid media specialist is a sommelier, listening to the customer’s desires and matching them with the ad that will best suit their taste. This dynamic is what makes SEM valuable to both parties. The user is getting ads directly related to their interests and the business, well… where do I start? First, the audience targeting is more precise than a drone strike. Keywords are chosen so that only specific search queries will trigger ads. There are many ways to customize keywords to trigger on phrases or if certain words are included and you can even add negative keywords so your ads aren’t showing up on a totally different product or idea with a shared word or concept.
Then, once users are clicking on your ads you’ll get more data than you knew was possible. The spreadsheets record every conceivable value you would need to market online and then some. Some of the most important metrics measured include impressions (number of users who saw your ad), clicks (number of clicks on said ads), and conversions (customizable goals on your website such as ecommerce transactions or newsletter sign-ups). That’s right, you can measure the reach of an ad campaign down to the person. No other advertising medium comes close to giving businesses that kind of precise data. There are so many metrics that it would be impossible to go over here, but include tracking spending down to the cent on campaigns, ad groups, or even individual keywords. There is truly no end to the amount of insights a business can gain about their audience and marketing strategy when looking at data from a well-structured PPC campaign.
Finally, services such as Google AdWords can be linked to a Google Analytics account which collects data on how users are interacting with your site. A business can see how long users stay on the site, what pages are getting the most views, and segment out demographics for a more specific look at any one of these metrics. Google Analytics is great for seeing how users interact with your content and messaging once the advertising has brought them to the site and when linked with a Google AdWords account the journey can be tracked from when someone first saw an ad to when they convert on the website.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why a business would choose to launch a digital marketing campaign and equally valuable incentives for users to participate in this type of system. With the perfect mix of a data-driven programmatic system serving ads and a human touch customizing campaigns, keywords, and ads, search engine marketing provides the best experience for both consumers and advertisers.
Do you need help with your PPC campaign? Contact Anvil today!