The Web & Advertising
The Web & Advertising – A Lot To Consider!
I have been starting to work with more and more clients on website advertising.
While I have been promoting companies (sponsors) on websites since 1998 – and I always known the value of “custom” advertising on a particular website – I must admit I was a little more skeptical on the value of “random” advertising based on keywords (known to many as Google ads, although other search engines also provide keyword ads). Of course, I stand with the opinion that the greatest advertisement on the web is always going to be your own website and that is the starting denominator.
“So, you consider a website actual advertising?”
Absolutely! I have to admit I am amazed when I hear an advertisement on the radio (or television) that includes a website as part of the promotion. If I am interested in the product or service I will check out the website. You would be surprise how many websites are not that good – yet the advertiser has spent a lot of money on advertising, but probably very little on their website. This is not a well thought out plan!
“But you got them to your website – surely that’s enough to seal the deal?”
This statement may be true under one condition – and that is you have a great website – NOT JUST A WEBSITE. With the scenario above, a small company spends $5,000 on a month of radio advertising promoting their spring special and sending inquiries to the website (or to a phone number). But their website is NOT a sparkling testament to their company. It is in fact an older technology site, with blurry logos and images and quite a lot of out of date content. Within a short period of time, the web visitors decide they don’t like your website – SO – they don’t like your company – SO – they don’t follow up on your spring special. It’s not because the spring special isn’t special, it’s because your website was not a professional representation of your company. It actually spelled out a lack of detail and professionalism, and frankly the end result is wasted advertising revenue.
“So, it would be worthwhile getting a great site before you start advertising?”
That sure would make sense to me. Your website is your greatest (and ever permanent) form of advertising. 24 hours a day – 7 days a week – people are going to your website and making decisions based on their experience with your site. This is the starting point of advertising in my book. Get a great website and then you really can start to look at advertising where you can maximize your returns.
“Ok – what next – wouldn’t Search Engines be all you need?”
Ah – the infamous SEO – Search Engine Optimization. You know, from day one with Search Engines I have always wondered how all the business in a particular industry (or keyword listing) can all get the number one ranking from a search engine. It is mathematically impossible, but is advertised by some SEO companies as being possible. “Get the top Google ranking”, they advertise, “and always stay at the top! – And all for 100 bucks – BUT YOU GOTTA CALL ME NOW!” You know the old saying – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Now don’t get me wrong with SEO – we spend a lot of time on our clients’ websites establishing their keywords and key phrases – and then we submit their websites to the top search engines, including their keywords & site maps.
We certainly want our clients to get great rankings on search engines, and some of the sites we manage have number one rankings on key words– but there is SO much more to becoming a number one ranked site on a search engine (and keeping that position) than just what is generally called SEO. There are many parameters and formulae that Search Engines use to produce rankings – and folks it’s their proprietary asset, so it’s not public knowledge – the guys you pay $100.00 bucks for that guaranteed number one ranking also don’t know the formulae.
It seems very clear to me that the best websites for a particular keyword are going to have the best chance of getting very good rankings. The number of visitors plays a big part, as do valid links from other websites (this is pointed out by many search engines as a key parameter.) Either way, you want to make sure that your keywords and phrases are embedded in your website – you want make sure your title lines (on pages) are descriptive – and that your website has been submitted to search engines. But he who lives by SEO will most likely die by SEO – it just isn’t a way to guarantee business, as you cannot guarantee positioning.
“Now, I would consider website advertising and Google Ads”
I keep hearing this from the media (themselves) – that newspapers and television in particular are losing advertising market share (in particular those who are not providing online advertising as part of their overall advertising packages). The ads usually mention the increase of online advertising’s numbers. I don’t have the cold hard facts on this, but it does seem reasonable that advertising online gets you lots of exposure, it can link directly to your website, and it can be tracked so you can see specific results – which to my knowledge no other medium can provide. On top of this, custom advertising also provides great branding opportunities – so, whether the ad is clicked on or not, web visitors may very well remember your brand.
And of course you have the ever increasing numbers of people surfing online. When you consider advertising on a specific website you really want to know the demographics, how many impressions your ad will get in a specific time frame, and the tracking of click-through’s to your website. The good old banner ads, which have been around since the conception of the Web, are still considered very solid. You can’t miss them, they are easy to read, not intrusive, and can be very effective. Of course, you will pay more for prominent positioning on websites – but the other great thing about website advertising is the ease with which an ad can be setup (and turned off) per the client’s budget.
“I must admit – the use of Google Ads now has my attention!”
When Google Ads first came out, I thought they were SO TACKY. I would be surfing a website (let’s say the website was promoting a local cultural club), and then a Google Ad promoting the sale of sports tickets (in California) would appear. I remember thinking to myself, “This website does not have the demographic that would be interested in those tickets, neither geographically nor product wise.” I frankly wasn’t much of a believer. The premise in my mind was placing ads on non- related websites just didn’t jibe. Also, with my background in running a lot of sponsor advertising on websites, I knew that a reasonable percentage of advertising is brand awareness – and Google Ads don’t compensate the advertising website for “awareness” – only “click-through’s”. I also wondered how they would control some joker from just clicking through the ad all day long to generate advertising revenue.
But, over time Google got better at placing ads in relatable and reliable websites – and then lo and behold in the last 12 months I saw a Google Ad on the home page of my favorite Australian News Paper (“The Age”) and I just about did a cartwheel. If the large newspapers are using Google advertising, then it must really be working. I started paying a lot more attention to the topic of the page and the ads, and they were matching up better and better. I would also state that most likely some of the websites (small and non-professional websites) that were running Google Ads initially gave up since they were generating no click-through’s. And then what really impressed me was the Google “Graphic Ads” – instead of the standard text. This really opened my eyes and commenced our focus on adding Google Ads to clients’ website as well as placing client ads.
“What about Sponsored Links on Search Engines?”
As per my “rant” above in terms of the fact that everyone cannot possibly have a number one ranking on Google, the Sponsored Links are clearly the ONLY way to guarantee yourself a high listing. And it makes sense – you pay for it, you get the best positioning. And just like Google Ads on a website, you establish your budget for the month (which is pre-set), and then you let the Google Ads do the rest. You are only charged when someone clicks your ad, so that means you get the branding promotion “free”. If no one clicks your ad, you don’t pay. If people do click on it, you will be getting new prospects to your website, and that is worth paying for.
In summary, when considering your overall advertising and marketing plan as an organization on the web, you really do have a lot to consider. My rule of thumb is to generally steer clear of anything you don’t understand. I have gradually become a fan of Google Ads over time – not because someone specifically told me it was the way to go, but because I started to get an understanding of how it works, and how it could work for me.
Remember – your first and major form of advertising is your website itself. Make sure it is in great shape, then look for strategic sites that have the demographic you are targeting in custom advertising when doing a specific promotion. Then consider setting a small monthly budget for Google Ads and give it a try. Once your budget has been met, your ad will automatically stop running. The click-through process allows you to monitor the results, and you can even place graphic ads today. Advertising on the Internet is growing all the time. Don’t wait too long to consider getting into this arena!
Peter Beare – Webmaster
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Peter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included strategic website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still primarily a webmaster. And this is “Interview with a Webmaster.”