Digital advertising channels: Which ones are right for your business?

Written by: Phillip Nones

These days, companies have more options than ever for promoting their products and services.  In the digital realm, the most significant advertising channels include display, video, mobile, search, and social.

For many companies, cross-channel advertising may be the way to ensure that they are reaching the right audiences in the places where they congregate.  But rarely are digital advertising channels equally effective for all companies.

In fact, each channel has qualities which could be either strengths or weaknesses, depending on each advertiser’s situation:

  • Paid search (pay-per-click) advertising across search engines like Google and Bing tends to perform better for direct response, because the ads are placed in front of people who are already looking for sources of supply.  This is the workhorse of digital advertising that can deliver fruitful results if the advertising is well-aligned with purchase intent.
  • Display advertising can help with branding, and for this reason it remains a popular digital channel.  However, “banner blindness” is a real phenomenon, with clicks and other engagement levels among the lowest we see in the world of digital.  It doesn’t help that ad blocking software is becoming increasingly popular – with more than 25% of U.S. Internet users now using ad blockers to remove ads appearing on websites, search engines and social media sides.
  • Mobile advertising is well on its way to being the biggest portion of digital ad spending.  Unfortunately, ad blocking software has invaded this space as well.
  • Social media advertising on Facebook and other “walled garden” sites allows for targeting audiences based on “soft” factors such as interests and hobbies in addition to more traditional demographic and geographic targeting.  Plus, promotions can be served in the form of “promoted posts” in addition to display advertising.  But for some companies, targeting audiences on social platforms isn’t necessarily a good tactic to reach the right targets at a time when they’ll be receptive to the messages.
  • Video advertising can be among the most engaging forms of online content, improving ad recall rates as well as clickthrough rates.  But video ads may be more effective with burnishing brand perceptions than anything else.

Whether these channels will have a stronger or weaker impact will depend on what kind of audiences you are targeting and where they reside:  Are they businesses or consumers?  Older or younger?  Making purchasing decisions for themselves or for others?  And are the purchases high-dollar or less costly items?

Depending on these and other factors, you may find it more effective to focus on just a few digital channels instead of all of them.


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