Search or Display Advertising, Where Should My Business Spend?

Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to web- based advertising it is Display (i.e. Banners, Video and Rich Media) that outsells Search. Likely because display advertisements cost less, on average 30% less than search ads. Display can work for a lower-budget brand awareness, new brand/ business or product campaign because the ‘Cost Per Thousand’ views pricing model it uses (versus search ‘Cost Per Click’) tends to be more reasonable. However, search often delivers a more qualified person or lead.

So let’s differentiate the two types of advertising so that a prospective user can be more informed about these choices.

About Display AdvertisingDisplay Ad

To start, display advertising is visual. It uses banners, video and rich media more likely to make a lasting impression. It is NOT the text- based ads you see when you search. Of the two, display is the better way to create and also build awareness for new companies or products. It’s also a great way for established companies or products to generate brand recall. Display advertisements can also be seen on the websites and/ or blogs related to specifically targeted subjects or industries; whereas, with a search campaign the advertiser is limited to search websites (i.e. Google).

Display Advertising Benefits

a) Visual Appeal

For instance, search advertisements are generally copy based and / or somewhat generic; whereas, display advertisements are a colorful, with graphics pictures or video, form of advertising online. They certainly offer a more memorable approach and, if nothing else, are more engaging.

b) General Awareness

Display advertising can build awareness for a new business or product if not only because it doesn’t require that a consumer search. These advertisements can appear to people based upon targeting capability, for instance on websites about particular subjects or to the visitors based upon their specific demographics or online behavior. It’s possible, even, to show these ads based a person’s previous search history.

An example might be ESPN, which is leader for sports news coverage. If a new sneaker company wishes to develop awareness among people interested in sport, it is a display ad on ESPN that is likely to reach their target. Better yet, if previous behavior suggests basketball is an interest than the basketball content on ESPN is going to be a great place to run those new hoop sneaker ads.

c) Better Recall

Older brands might use display advertisements to remain visible and keep recall high. For instance, a company like Coca-Cola needs to advertise in order to retain brand recall and ensure people buy again!

d) Re- targeting

And then there is re- targeting, which can be used to repeat ad views to a particular person as they move around among various sites. Want to re- capture a person who visited the website and was maybe indecisive? Then re- targeting can help to keep the brand or the product on that visitors’ radar while also improve the chance for conversion.

About Search AdvertisingSearch Ads

When a business wants to rank for a particular keyword, search advertising is the way to go. These ads are only shown to searchers who search the keywords the business is bidding, making it a much more qualified view with a higher chance for clicks and conversions.

Search Advertising Benefits

a) Generate More Qualified Leads

A search advertisement can create a conversion quick, if only because that person is searching the very keyword the advertisement targets. It’s why search advertising, priced being based upon a cost per click, is often more expensive than display. Qualified individuals, by the nature of their search effort, are more sought after and therefor the competitive bidding model for ad placement can become very competitive.

b) Immediate Return On Investment

The belief is that ROI on search advertising can be as much as 300% higher than that of display advertising ROI. Again the target is much more expensive to reach, but much more likely to buy!

c) Local Business Advantage

Local business owners like contractors, lawyers, etc. may benefit from search advertising if only because the nature of the work involved often requires local service. The chances are that someone searching for an electrician, lawyer or a plumber … needs one here & now.

d) More Ad Clicks

Finally, search ads have a higher click-through-rate than display ads. It is simply easier for business owners to create targeted search engine campaigns that are triggered only based upon very specific keyword searches; whereas, display ads do not meet that specific an intent. They also depend on demographic targeting, which is simply not as accurate. And search advertisements show above the fold on a search results pages, so while many folks will scroll through pages many will not.

Consumer Priority: Detailed Website ContentWebsites Priorities For Marketers | Kinetic Knowledge

While there are several powerful marketing & advertising channels online (i.e. search engines via optimization or advertising, social networks, search & listing directories, email marketing platforms, etc.), consumers will always prioritize information about the business, its products and services. Everything else should be valued as a means for driving them inbound to great useful content! For those with a ‘long term marketing view’, here are the most important things to consider with business websites.


Top Priorities For Modern Business Websites: 

  1. CONTROL: Own your website and its URL! We should always have the option to move from host to host, at will! If not, accept the risk of losing an accumulated investment of time, money and digital footprint. Most free and many low cost providers offer solutions that can be a trap; that prioritize their business interests. No one likes being trapped and no one should accept the possibility of having to start all over again. Why accept anything but ownership? (See: Why A Business Should Use WordPress?) 
  2. CONTENT: We cannot emphasize investment in content enough, a website is worthless without it! Pages must have a depth of information for each subject relevant to the business. Sooner or later buyers will need useful information on products and services. Above all, search engines wish to rank pages based upon their subject- specific usefulness to people!
  3. MOBILE: Accept that visitors arrive on small mobile devices! Be mobile- friendly to visitors on phones, tablets and PCs alike. Not only is it best for consumers, but search engines prioritize it. If you are not mobile friendly, assume Google does NOT want to recommend you in its search results.
  4. HOST & MANAGE: Chose a host platform that serves fast loading pages or expect to disappoint people and search engines! The Internet, browsers, devices, apps’ and, unfortunately, hacks advance; your website software must pace that advance! Most website solutions lag this reality, so be out front of the curve. Be hardened against hack and be certain your website software is updated & managed!
  5. SEO: It is common for a business owner to say, “the website is just a reference for existing clients.” We would argue this is narrow-minded because everyone searches. Assume that without some SEO a brand is invisible online.  Use website software that, at least, offers search engine friendly support. Pages are ranked for their content: visibility in search results begins with the on page mechanics of content! Web Footprint: A website should also forever grow a far reaching web footprint of indexed pages, inbound- links, likes, shares and reviews … from all over the web. All of these off page signals may send someone somewhere sometime to our pages! They also serve as the off website signals search engines use to rank, so we must protect ‘web footprint’! 
  6. DESIGN: For visitors, what your brand looks like matters. The website is an immediate replacement for window shopping. “Drag and drop” gets thrown around loosely by the bottom- dwellers of website software and its rarely ever good enough. Design can’t be one dimensional; it must accept a stack of priorities including website theme, mobile- responsive, security, lead capture and various other apps or functions. There’s got to be cooperation, aesthetic should never undermine other requirements. Choose solutions that allow you to carry page URLs from design to redesign, so that a web footprint can remain in tact!
  7. SECURITY: Like it or not, no one can guarantee website security. At minimum we must be sure website code is updated in order to harden it against vulnerability. Management matters and a serious marketer must invest in highly regarded website defense. Solutions like a firewall, daily malware scanning, two factor login authentication and much more! Some may even guarantee they can clean a website that has been hacked.
  8. WORDPRESS: And finally for websites, a business should use WordPress? 

The Value of Content To A Business Marketer

Re- written from July 2009

An interesting NewYorker.com piece published July 6th 2009 by Malcolm Gladwell, titled ‘Priced To Sell’, looks at “FREE” and the value of content & ideas. It’s a very useful read for the average small to medium sized business marketer.

In it Gladwell questions some of Chris Anderson’s theories [Wired Magazine and The Long Tail fame] on free products and services. Says Anderson, “…an ability to participate in Journalism extends beyond the credentialed halls of traditional media. Journalism as a profession will share the stage with journalism as an avocation.”  What Anderson is saying is digital storage, processing and bandwidth costs are so low that there’s no longer any ‘barrier to entry’ for content creation.

What he is also, indirectly, suggesting is that by sharing good content & ideas with a target- market for “FREE” a business can trigger interest for its’ actual paid- for business products or services! With the cost of distribution to people who search, who social network and who subscribe being negligible, we’d argue publishing ‘useful advertorial information on subjects a business is authoritative for’ is actually less an avocation than it is a modern business responsibility! Ultimately a business can create & distribute it’s advertorial message without any time limit = it can remain on the worldwide web forever and it can do it at a negligible cost. Versus the cost of traditional advertising, a business is either sharing useful and timely product / service knowledge for consumers to find OR … missing the boat on how those same consumers are actually evaluating future purchases.

However, time, effort and intellectual capital have cost. Entrusting them in any form of content to FREE host, communication or advertising services has downside. Gladwell doesn’t necessarily argue for or against these points so much as he questions them. Cautioning AGAINST FREE Gladwell says, “Free removes the necessity of aesthetic judgment.” Using Youtube as an example he asks, “So how does YouTube bring in revenue? Well, it tries to sell advertisements alongside its hosted videos. The problem is that the business’ video may not only be surrounded by various forms of less- desirable user-generated content, but also the sort of advertising it would NOT want to be near- to or associated with. Gladwell certainly makes interesting arguments any serious business person should consider.

By all means, give ‘Priced To Sell a quick read! 

CONSIDER YOUR OWN ONLINE SEARCH AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR 

do consumers behave differently than we do? | kinetic knowledgeAs a business person looking for new customers, have you considered your own behavior online? Or better yet, do you think your prospective client or customer behaves that much differently than you? Folks, your future leads are searching [and social networking] for answers & information just like you do it.

In this day and age, we search and social network because it’s so easy, reliable and it’s so free! Because of Google, for instance, we can do our research really quick. To a degree, we interview businesses and research their services prior to ever actually talking to them. We’re all human, we want to gauge what’s online about the most valuable service available for our dollar so why wouldn’t we look around before talking to a provider? 

Considering people can get virtually all the information they’ll ever need, we must accept the playing field we’re forced to market in. With the consumer (just like you) in control, including an almost immediate ability to compare product & service information PLUS reviews, what are you doing to show them the value you have to offer? As a consumer, what would you expect… of yourself?

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN OTHER BUSINESSES

Times have most definitely changed; regardless of old school relationships or methods, if you’re not sharing your knowledge- base of information transparently you’re already losing the long term competitive battle for attention and trust.  All  business owners should publish useful timely information and seek out good reviews in order to be visible & worthy of  public’s trust.

This is about performing, just like you would want others too when you are the consumer seeking service. It’s about making a commitment to be transparent, to share knowledge and to demonstrate you are a value added product and/ or service provider.

Life is a two way street folks: have we considered our own online behavior?!

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