Secret to online advertising

The secret to online advertising

Online advertising can help businesses capture new leads and generate sales and revenue almost instantly - but only if they know the secret to effective online ads.

While online ads (in particular, PPC ads) have great potential, it is very difficult to know exactly how to create the perfect ad that reaches the right audience, at the right time.

Internet users are very good at tuning out marketing and advertisements, rendering them all but useless. So getting your online ads wrong, can end up sucking the marketing budget dry with very little ROI (Return On Investment).

This article looks at how online ads are evolving, and how to leapfrog current trends to place effective ads on the right Web real estate, to drive great conversions and make money.

What to consider

Two major factors are influencing the way in which marketers and advertisers change the way they are reaching out to audiences and generating conversions:

  1. Mobile Internet
  2. Low ROI for traditional PPC ads

The Web is going mobile

The rapid adoption of mobile technologies mean that the average user simply does not have the same screen real estate as before.

Plastering a mobile webpage with large banner ads leads to a poor user experience.

Bloggers and online publishers will soon learn (because their own mobile Web traffic volumes will drop) that banner ads are no longer effective for a mobile audience.

Traditional PPC ads suck

Traditional PPC (Pay Per Click) ads are simply not that effective anymore. Of course, marketers do succeed with them, otherwise they would have died out completely, but Internet users come with built in ad filters.

Take your average Google search results page:

Google search result showing PPC AdWords ads

Naturally Google is exempt from its own guidelines for ensuring a good browsing experience. As you can see, their results pages are almost entirely advertisements - something that ordinary sites would be heavily penalized for by the "top heavy" algorithm.

With highlighted ads dominating the top and right hand sides of the page, the search results (what the user is actually after), appear lower down on the page. But, despite Google's efforts to generate more revenue from PPC, most people still click through to the search results.


Because they already have a "mind map" of Google's pages, allowing them to instantly know where the valuable content (i.e. the search results), and the ads are.

Ads that reach the audience

Look at the screenshot again, in particular you'll notice that the search phrase is "ecommerce builders".

It's quite reasonable to assume that a fair portion of the people searching on this SEO phrase are interested in using an eCommerce website builder (or hosted shopping cart software).

This makes it a valuable keyword for hosted shopping cart services and companies to win.

The top result, no surprise, is Shopify, arguably the leading hosted shopping cart software in the world. But, lo and behold, the second result is SME Pals (although this is obviously subject to change as Google's results change).

So what does this have to do with online advertising?

Content based advertising

Wouldn't it be far more valuable for potential advertisers to have a presence on the top ranking pages for a targeted SEO keyphrase like ecommerce builders?

After all, we know that most people disregard the PPC ads surrounding the results to click on whichever search results are most interesting for them (with the vast majority of clicks going to the top few results).

Now, Shopify would have to be pretty stupid to allow a competing hosting cart to advertise on their own page, so marketers won't have much luck there.

But, SME Pals is a different story. Advertising on our page would bypass all the paid keyword bidding and competition on the search results page, to display on the actual page the user is looking for.

If only there was a way to get a targeted message onto that particular page...

Highly focused content based ads

SME Pals offers those facilities because we predict that, more and more, online advertising is about reaching a focused, engaged target audience - rather than a large, generic one - that allows advertisers to:

  1. target individual pages
  2. embed text-based message into the content

Given that our bounce rate is around 56%, and the average visit time about 3 minutes, it is very likely that a high portion of readers will read that message.

Given that the ad is targeted to a specific page, with a well understood audience (because you already know which SEO keywords that page ranks for ), the CTR (Click Thru Rate) is exceptionally high, and conversions are commensurately high too.

Check out these pages to see examples of these focused content ads in action (Hint: scroll down the page to view the ad embedded in a grey call out box):

The great thing about these ads is that the advertiser is getting far more value for their ad spend. Ad costs are competitive, based on pageviews per month, but the CTR is much higher because the ad is more relevant and targeted.

The secret to online advertising

To summarize the above in the form of a general online advertising strategy for marketers and businesses wanting to generate higher click-thrus, and better ROI, is as follows:

  1. Identify target SEO keywords and phrases
  2. Identify top ranking search results for those keywords
  3. Place contextual, text-based ads within the top ranking content
  4. Analyze and refine

There are two major drawbacks to advertising like this:

1) Ad execs actually have to do some work. Instead of interfacing with a large ad network like Google AdWords, each ad has to be crafted specifically for a given webpage that is successfully dominating a target SEO keyphrase.

2) Many websites haven't upgraded their advertising functionality to cater for the content based ad economy being driven by mobile adoption. But, by getting highly specific messages across to highly specific target audiences, you stand to generate much higher returns on your online ad spend in 2013 and beyond.

What do you think of SME Pals' ad strategy? Are you already implementing embedded content ads, or sponsored content? What are the returns like for advertisers and publishers?

Share your online advertising tips and experiences in the comments.

Free email marketing setup guide. Pic by Wayne Stadler

Modern email marketing campaigns, especially from small businesses, need to be able to grow a killer mailing list and deliver awesome emails to the right audience as efficiently as possible.

In case you're still a bit undecided about whether an email marketing campaign is right for your business, here's an old saying that should help:

Sample press release template. Pic by Matthew Guay

The other day I decided to get some coverage in the news - actually, I wanted to get some exposure for a particularly nice bit of research we'd done - and started to toy around with a few publicity ideas. A press release seemed like the perfect way to go.

But, as it turns out, it's not that easy get a mention in the news - especially, if like me, you don't spend a lot of time networking and building up a list of contacts in the world of journalism. Which brings me to my first tip...

Influencer marketing leverages relationships gain trust and reach

Imagine you could hire a Jedi to sell your products and reach out to new people using their famous mindtricks. Seems almost unfair, right? But that's precisely what brands are starting to do with influencer marketing.

Marketing hacks that worked. Pic by Steven Depolo

Every company in the world is obsessed with marketing and sales - trying desperately to get in front of potential clients, gain visibility, join the conversation, and generally drum up new business in order to grow.

Competition is fierce these days (regardless of size and industry), so it's not that surprising that innovative and creative people are out there trying to find new and interesting ways to market and promote themselves.

But which marketing strategies actually work?

Gathering useful articles from top influencers

Content fatigue, when it comes to finding innovative and creative marketing advice, is becoming a serious time burglar for me. It is getting harder and harder to find the really useful nuggets of info hiding behind mounds of mediocre content and fake influencers.

That's why I've decided to put together a list of the best articles I come across over the course of 2016 - to save you the hassle of monitoring hundreds of sites yourself. I'll continually update this page whenever I see something genuinely useful that I deem worthy.