ver the past years we have witnessed a proliferation of online publications, blogs, websites, etc all of them clamoring for the advertiser’s dollar. This development is a welcome one because it goes on to confirm that local marketers in Zimbabwe are now adopting online advertising as a cheaper and cost effective way of reaching their customers. These sites we have seen range from personal, sector specific blogs to news publications and have opened space for advertisers to advertise their products in the form of online banners or much more technically digital display ads.
I have over the past years been working with most if not all news publications, blogs, sector specific sites who sell ads and I’ve witnessed some gaps on both on the advertiser and also on the publisher. In this article I want to share the basic principles and rules which I believe if adhered to can translate into better ROI which our superiors demand of us. Firstly, I think it is important to put a disclaimer that we came late to the party and as such our adoption has not been a smooth one. Below are some of the basic tenets of online ads
- An online banner is not a solus ad
I was once a traditional marketer and solus ads are one of the cheapest options when it comes to press ads, they love them trust me! However it is sad to note that most of our online banners are simply or seemingly resized solus ads because there’s too much copy in the ad and they are no strong call to actions. I’ve been guilty of doing that, simply taking the approved ad and then resizing it for a 728×90 leaderboard. Online banners need to be developed and optimized with online in mind and this means less copy and more interactivity on the banner. If there’s too much clutter no one has time to squint to try read your ad. Rule number one, create online banners and do not resize solus ads. There’s various options, you can create static or animated banners which offer more interactivity.
- Online banner with no landing pages
The beauty of digital marketing channels is the ability to track a customer when they see your ad right to the point they convert on your website, this in a nutshell is the essence of lead generation through digital channels. I have even done a comparison here, however, locally, they are advertisers who have online banners without any landing pages to direct to? If you don’t have a website then chances are you’re losing out on the ability to give your customers more information about your product or service offering. All online banners need to terminate somewhere, a landing page on your site, a microsite, your social media page whatever it is, you need to direct traffic to a particular property where viewers get more info and or complete the transaction. If you do not have a website, you’re better off stopping online ads, well unless your objective is to just raise brand awareness.
- Too many ads on particular sites
I personally do not like adverts, there’s too much information around and I’m sure you agree with me. I’ve seen some news publications that have about 10 banners on the homepage alone??? They are all there competing for attention and surely who’s seeing those ads and clicking through them? This is tantamount to manipulation by publishers trying to accommodate everyone and suck more money from unsuspecting advertisers. Can you imagine this situation and you see the same banners for a whole month!! Goodness me, the unfortunate thing is they quickly suffer from viewer fatigue.
The saddest thing with most advertisers is that once we place the ads we go and sleep and consider it done! Most of us don’t get reports on the impressions, the reach and the clickthroughs to your site, do you know how many people saw your advert? How many it reached? How many clicked on it? Unlike traditional press advertising where you completely have no idea who read the paper, with digital you can with surgical accuracy ascertain who clicked and where they went to and how much time they spent reading your site!
This discussion brings me to the next worrying thing, media houses 🙁 Since the advent of online advertising we have witnessed traditional media houses taking a leading role in online media placement despite some of them being absolutely clueless about online advertising. Why I say so, it is the role of the media house to ensure that a client’s banners are well positioned, are tracked and monitored, ensure they are all linked to specific landing pages and assist client with performance reports. Sadly what we are witnessing is that the traditional agency in it’s competency or lack of it places a “copy stricken” “solusesque” advert on behalf of the client. I strongly believe the time is nigh to have digital agencies take the role of online media placement because they understand the language and can competently advise clients on their online strategy.
- Cost models
They are various cost models, which can be pursued by publishers in online advertising. There’s Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Action (CPA), Cost per Mille (CPM), Cost per Engagement (CPE) and flat rates. These models, some favor the advertiser and others the publisher and in Zimbabwe most of our publishers use the flat rate model. If you approach a publisher they simply tell you it cost X amount to advertise for the month and if you’re lucky they give you a discount. The motivation behind this model of advertising remains to be explained but it certainly benefits the publisher particularly given the fact that some of these sites have very low traffic.
I personally would like to see some change in these models, as an advertiser I need to be convinced I’m getting value for money by placing my ad on your site. If you ask me, I would advocate for a Cost per Mille and not even Cost per Action. Cost per Mille basically means an advertiser pays for the number of impressions the ad receives which in this approach is per 1,000 impressions. If I place a banner on a certain site the publisher should send me a report on the number of impressions my ad makes and then I pay accordingly. I believe this is a win/win situation where you only pay for the value that you get. It’s a matter of agreeing on the cost/impression that’s all.
In conclusion, any form of online advertising should be tied in to particular strategic objectives, what do you want to achieve? If you want to increase brand awareness then choose the most popular sites and if your target audience is highly segmented then choose the sites which align with your target audience. If you’re looking for high-end clients then a schools sports website is not the best site for you.
I rest my case, there’s a lot more i didn’t cover and hoepfully we will do that in the next issue. Feel free to share your thoughts on this important subject matter.