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Online Advertising: What to Do and What Not to Do

Advertising goes hand in hand with any online endeavor. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, you need to get the word out there if you hope to grow your business.

To succeed in web advertising, you have to understand how the industry works – the best practices to implement and the pitfalls to avoid – and that’s what we’re going to share with you.
Before we get there, let’s begin with the basics: the current state of web advertising and what the future might hold for its practitioners.

The State of Web Advertising

Worldwide web advertisement expenditures are projected to reach approximately 200 billion in 2016. It’s a massive industry that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
During the past few years, we’ve seen several niches rise within the industry. Spending for video ads on social media platforms has steadily grown since Facebook kicked off the race in 2014. Today, Facebook and YouTube split the crown in that race.

Mobile advertising is bigger than ever due to the prevalence of mobile devices around the globe, and this subset of the industry has overshadowed desktop advertising over the past couple of years.

In other news, social advertising has been shown to work wonders for impulse buys. Meanwhile, the web ad industry giants are focusing their efforts on tackling click fraud and fake traffic.

The only looming threat for web advertisers during these record years has been the continuing rise of ad blockers. Twenty-six percent of internet users are now employing some sort of ad blocking technology, and that number is expected to continue going up. In the face of this impending threat, all advertisers can do is adapt to the changing landscape and keep best practices in mind.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Web Advertising

Now that we have an idea of the state of the industry, it’s time to discuss some of the best and worst practices for fledgling advertisers.

Do: Put User Experience First

A lot of advertisers focus on using the kind of ads that maximize their profits, which makes financial sense, but is often at odds with what constitutes the best user experience.

Let’s consider popup ads as an example. We can safely assume that most people reading this article abhor these types of ads and it’s perfectly understandable since they disrupt user experience.

image01Image credit: Popups plugin.

Does this mean that you should completely discard popup ads? Not necessarily. You could, for example, consider using exit popups instead of their front-loading counterparts. If someone is already leaving your site, you won’t disrupt their experience with an exit popup. At most, you may annoy them a little, and that’s ok as long as you have a valid reason for doing so.

It’s also important to consider the context in which the add will appear. Some types of ads simply don’t work in certain circumstances. For example, no user wants to be subjected to autoplaying video ads when they land on a long-form blog post, but it wouldn’t be that out of place on a social media page.

Do: Create Relevant Ads for Your Audience

Once you’ve figured out which types of ads to use under which circumstances, the next step in your journey is to identify your audience. Knowing the demographics of your visitors and the search queries that brought them to your site is key to figuring out the kind of advertisements that will perform better on your properties.

CoSchedule has an excellent article that goes over the process of finding your target audience – notice there’s an annoying front-loading popup on their site, which proves that even the experts aren’t exempt from making questionable choices. As far as keeping track of which keywords or referrers brought users to your sites, we recommend setting up Google Analytics, which happens to work exceptionally well with WordPress sites.

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Do: Maintain Consistency Across Your Advertisements

One of the main differences between everyday companies and idolized brands is that the latter take pains to maintain a high level of consistency across their advertising ventures – they’re building a brand, not just promoting a product.

That is easier said than done, especially if we’re talking about small web properties that haven’t yet built a coherent brand story. An excellent place to start is with this guide to 12 Storytelling Techniques for Boring Brands.

Do: Pick the Right Platform

We discussed this topic in depth during one of our past articles, Online Advertising Platforms: 4 Popular Options Compared. Give it a read to figure out which platforms will work best for you. Then focus your advertising dollars on the most relevant platforms.

Do: Pay Attention to Data

One of the best aspects of modern web advertising is that we have access to all sorts of data that marketers would’ve killed for just a few short years ago. Most advertising platforms give you access to extensive analytics. If you don’t pay attention to the data you might just as well burn your money.

Analytics can tell you what works and what doesn’t. That information can be used to optimize your campaigns over time and ultimately, earn you more money.

Don’t: Force Ads on Your Visitors

We mentioned adblockers near the beginning of this article. The ugly truth is that some users simply aren’t interested in viewing or engaging with your ads at all. Finding ways to circumvent adblockers only serves to create ill will towards your brand. Focus on providing a decent ad experience for those users that don’t employ adblockers and cut your losses.

Don’t: Jump in Without Doing Your Research

What types of ads are your competitors running? Do you know how much it will cost to run a successful campaign? This kind of information is crucial to determine whether any given market is worth pursuing.

Moat Ad Search enables you to explore the advertising campaigns of several popular brands which should give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Determining costs, however, is not so easy. We recommend that you narrow down the markets you’re interested in chasing, and then set a small budget to test multiple keywords on your ad network of choice to gauge the cost of reaching your target audience.

Conclusion

There’s no guarantee of success in the rough world of web advertising. However, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind and you’ll be on the right path. So, the next time you’re working on an online campaign, make sure that it:

  1. Puts user experience first.
  2. Focuses on providing relevant content for the users you’re targeting.
  3. Remains consistent across every channel to cement your brand identity.
  4. Enables you to track useful metrics such as clicks, impressions, and conversions.

Do you have any recommendations for your fellow readers who are dipping their toes into online advertising for the first time? Share them with everyone in the comments section below!

Image credit: Luis Llerena.

About Corey Hammond

Corey has been directly involved in the web hosting space since 2010 and leads marketing for A2 Hosting.

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