Online Advertising

Whether you are checking your email, shopping on a website or just searching for information, online ads are everywhere! A new marketing landscape, the Internet offers a new and cheaper advertising space, as compared to traditional spaces like print, television, radio and outdoor advertising. It’s a revolution of sorts and small and home business owners are making the most of it.

For a home based start up, online advertising is a potent tool that can maximize visibility, drive traffic to the company’s website, up the sales and build a solid brand in the process. Going to an expensive advertising agency to run your campaign would most definitely burn a hole in your pocket. The good news is you don’t have to do that. Just remember the twin mantras of focus on what you want and a strong dose of imagination; and you’ll be on your way.

Take the guesswork out of online advertising

Online advertising is not a function of elaborate guesswork and a myriad of hits and misses. Like the traditional offline version, online advertising must also follow some basic rules. Know what you want your advertising to do, where to get it and what to do with it once you have it. Here are some guidelines to get you started.

http://www.marketingprofs.com/preview.asp?file=/2/honabach1.asp

  1. Define your advertising objective: Shut the door, switch off the lights, take a deep breath and think why you need to advertise. Clearly define the goals you want your advertising program to achieve. Is it generating new leads, increasing the number of hits on your website, making your company visible in the market place or to increase on/off -line sales? Each goal will have a different advertising path. You can only expect your program to maximize returns, if you know for sure what you want your advertising to do.
  2. Decide “where” you want to be seen: It makes a difference to be seen in the right places. Like in offline advertising, the placement of your ad is very crucial to success. Advertising (Co-advertising for higher benefits) on websites that are most relevant to your line of business would be the best place. Also consider top Search Engines, Online Yellow pages, Service Provider directories and large sites or networks. Explore trade –specific websites for a more focused audience.
  3. Tailor the message for your target audience: when you want the caveman to listen, beat your chest! Craft your message to appeal to the target audience. Your message for a visitor on a trade forum’s website would be different from what you say to the guy clicking on your ad on a home business site. The trick here is to align your message to the mindset of your audience. Equally important is that the message should convey the promotional goals your advertising desires to accomplish. So if you are selling ice to an Eskimo shopping in an Internet mall, don’t forget to mention the discount on your season sale!
  4. Be Creative: In a marketplace teeming with new ads you can easily get clobbered on the head with run-of-the-mill ad copy. Your most valuable asset in this crowd is your creativity, which will make your ad stand out. Be creative not only in the copy, but also in the placement of the advertisement. An online contact lens clinic pulls hundreds of people every day to take an eye test with a simple ad. The small 1” X 2” banner says, “ Think You Don’t Need an Eye Test?” in the same format as you see on the reading sheet in an optometrist’s clinic, with alphabets running vertically in a decreasing order. This is a classic example of a simple but creative idea getting the desired results.

    Add more depth to your advertisement by using rich media like HTML, DHTML, Java and layered ads. Use animated messages doubled with pull down menus for better use of space and for expanding possibilities of response.

  5. Choose the advertising medium well: They say, “Well Begun is Half Done”. If you are going to spend a sizeable amount of money on creating and placing ads, they should do more than just wiggle and pop. To maximize response, choose the advertising medium carefully. You have several choices like banner ads, contextual advertising, ezine advertising etc. Research and read on various formats and the factors for each one’s success. Then decide on what format works best for your campaign. Once you have decided on the format, it is equally important to choose the vendor. If you have decided on banner advertising, research and list the websites that would give you the maximum exposure to the right kind of audience. Check out the option of using advertising networks and the pay-per-click options as well. [http://a1portal.com/]

    Once your campaign has been set in motion, take care to monitor response and be ready to change or completely redo your copy and the advertising vehicles you use. Keep a track of the ROI (Return on Investment) for every advertising purchase that you make. This way you can figure out which forms of advertising are working for you and which ones aren’t.

All online advertising is aimed at inducing “action”. Every online ad that you see is built to make you act: ‘Register for a free newsletter’, ‘buy now and save dollars’, ‘get a quote on your requirements’…the list goes on. The thing to remember here is that once the prospect has been pushed into an action, there should be real value for him at the other end of the pop- up. Unless you can fulfill the promise your brand is making, your online ad has been wasted.

A well-planned and well-executed advertising campaign can fuel the growth of your home business tremendously. Use online advertising following some simple guidelines and see how it impacts your sales, visibility and brand building, all at the same time.

Also see: http://www.web-source.net/internet_advertising.htm

Ethics in Advertising

Introduction

Ethics have always been an important aspect of every business activity, although the term has meant different things at different times in different lands to different people. Nonetheless, as ethical concerns are an inseparable element of business, advertising can not ignore them. Sadly, the advertising industry has rarely cared to look beyond immediate marketing objectives. The argument in the industry is that it is the government’s job to judge what is right and what is wrong. Shirking its own responsibility for regulation, the industry has belittled business values and agencies have harmed their balance sheets.

For any business, customer is very important, and businessman attempt to communicate to all their target customers using means of communication like advertising and sales promotion. Advertising is a very powerful and most commonly used tool.

Benefits of advertising

o Communication

The organization has to attract the customer and create a market for its products. For this purpose, advertising is the most powerful and widely used tool for communicating message regarding products/services to a large target audience.

o To raise the standard of living

In our developing economy, adverting with its micro and macro level influences, exerts vast and varied influences that have played key role in raising the standards of physical and material well being of the Indian society.

o To make market competitive

In India, one finds many innovations being introduced which has changed the market structure from seller’s market, and thus the result is more competitive market conditions.

o Product differentiation

It is a fact that advertising brings about products variety through real and psychological product differentiation.

Critical evaluation of advertising

Though many benefits are achieved through advertisements, the ad message is becoming more and more exaggerated. To achieve competitive advantage, advertising magnifies unimportant differences, resorts to clever, tricky product promises, and claims more and more unbelievable benefits. The customer finds many advertisements as false, deceptive, or misleading. Consumers are uncertain regarding whether or not the performance of a product purchased will in fact meet their needs. If they find that the product lacks in quality, advantage, durability etc., as advertised they might not buy it again, and develop an aversion to every other product of that company.

Unethical advertising

Advertisement is considered unethical in the following situations;

o When it has degraded or underestimated the substitute or rival’s product.

o When it gives false or misleading information on the value of the product.

o When it fails to give useful information on the possible reaction or side effects of the product. And

o When it is immoral.

Ways of misleading the consumers

o Many a time, traders entice the customers into their stores by advertising goods at a very low price, but they stock only a handful of such sale items in the store. When the advertised goods are sold out, consumers are steered towards the higher-priced stock or lower quality goods.

Retailers must ensure that reasonable supply of products is available during the sales, and retailers should not purposely avoid it. Retailers should make it clear in the advertisement that how many items on sale are available or when the sale ends.

o Sale offer should be for a limited period. Advertisement should declare that sale offer is for a limited time period. The period of the offer should be made clear in the advertisement only when the advertised goods are available for a limited period or stocks are limited.

o Traders often offer insignificant price reduction. To illustrate, a trader may advertise that the price of product is reduced to Rs.99.95, when the normal selling price is Rs.100.. The trader must include the normal selling price and discounted price in his offer .The trader sale offer is misleading if the trader claims the product is below cost , when the price is not below cost after discounts, rebates and other allowances it is misleading if the trader simply shows a fictitious higher price as normal selling price in the advertisement.

o Advertisement must clearly indicate the total price of goods or services. All price comparison must be truthful and must not intentionally or unintentionally mislead the consumers. Under the Fair Trade Practices Act, retailers have an obligation to ensure that they do not mislead or make false representations to customers with respect to price of the goods. The consumers who shop around and compare the prices of various products are less likely to be deceived by misleading claims consumers should also be aware of what is a reasonable price of goods and not take any advertised discounts at face value.

o While many sales are legitimate or genuine, the consumers should not get attracted to such sales offers i.e., “Hurry…very few days remain for sale”. The consumers should be aware of what to expect when retailers place items on sale and how to avoid being misled by discount advertisements. A marketer should take care to ensure that when goods or services are advertised to be available at a discount or as being on sale, it is a genuine discount or sale.

Remedies to overcome deceptive advertisements

o Cease-and- Desist Orders

The cease-and-desist orders, which prohibit the respondent from engaging any more in deceptive practice, are actually the only formal procedure established by the Federal Trade Commission Act for enforcing the prohibition of ‘ deceptive acts and practices.”

o Restitution

Restitution means the consumer is compensated for any damage caused to him by the product that had advertised claims not adequately substantiated. Restitution is rarely considered because of its severity.

o Affirmative Disclosures

If an advertisement has provided insufficient information to the consumers, an affirmative disclosure might be issued Affirmative disclosure require ‘clear and conspicuous disclosure’ of omitted information. Often the involved information relates to the deficiency or limitations of the product or service possibly relating to matters of health or safety.

o Corrective Advertising

Corrective Advertising requires the advertisers to verify past deception by making suitable amendment in any of its future commercial.

Self Regulation in Advertising

It is our responsibility to regulate our operations. And we must do it ourselves. Self regulation is not a quick-fix solution; it will be completely ineffective with out commitment from and the integrity of one and all. Self Regulation may require the following;

o The development of a self-regulatory code of conduct covering all forms of media that is sensitive to ethics, legalities, decency and truthfulness in advertising.

o Provision for monitoring and accountability, including a policy allowing for the removal of ads that violate the code.

o Greater participation of advertising professionals in the regulatory process.

o The inclusion of non-industry players in the process

o Consumer awareness of the self regulation system.

o Simplification of the complaint process against ads.

o Transparency throughout the entire system.

These reforms will achieve three goals. They will make the industry accountable for its actions. They will make regulators and critics think twice before attacking the industry and finally they will lead the public to trust ads, advertisers and agencies.

Conclusion

Reputable companies and advertising agencies avoid telling lies. They realize the cost of being caught. A dent in trust can prove to be much costlier than the failure of an ad campaign or for that matter, even a brand. The challenge before advertisers and agencies is to ensure that ads reflect our values. We must endeavor to see that “advertising” does not remain a dirty word.

Online Advertising

 Advertising  has moved much beyond the levels of print and point of contact  advertising . Today one of the world’s most effective  advertising  techniques is online  advertising . With the unparalleled rise in the World Wide Web, not only has it become one of the most targeted sections of  advertising , but at the same time it is also the most cost effective  advertising  process in the world.

Categories of online  advertising  could include such systems as banner ads, email marketing,  advertising  networks, online classified  advertising  and many other techniques. The procedures are simple, they are quick and the results are easily visible.

The greatest benefit of online  advertising  is that it knows no time and space boundaries. It is visible to anyone at anytime and geographical boundaries are no longer applicable. Another great advantage is that they can be targeted to specific groups or a relevant audience. Certain keywords will bring up the advertisements on the requisite pages, thus ensuring that you catch the eyeballs of people who are looking for similar content.

Google, due to its commanding position in the search engine world, is used as the benchmark for all  advertising  techniques and marketing strategies. If a company manages to do well with its Google  advertising , then it is guaranteed that the same techniques will achieve good results on other search engines also.

Google’s AdWords is one of the most basic systems of  advertising  on their search network. The AdWords reach only interested customers, since the ads pop-up only on relevant search pages. You can also reduce  advertising  costs tremendously since these are not very high priced ads. You can also alter them as and when needed, and judging from the evaluation charts you can make informed marketing decisions.

Online  advertising , especially banner  advertising  or ads on various sites should not be judged on the basis of the number of click throughs. An advertisement’s efficacy cannot be calculated according to the instantaneous results it generates. There is a great deal of recall value attached to ads, and similar to print media or TV advertisements, the results normally become evident only later. However what is essential is the placing of the advertisement, since the significance of the page it appears on is what determines the focus of the ad.

Over 13.6 billion searches take place in one month in the US alone. Out of these 9 billion of those searches are on Google. Hence the importance of Google as the main  advertising  destination cannot be underplayed. Every SEM company worth its salt will target Google searches for optimization, and online  advertising  companies will target their ads towards the 9 billion searches every month. Thus Google promotion packages are an inherent segment of every  advertising  strategy. These include not only  advertising  on Google search engines, using the specialized techniques developed by Google, but also  advertising  on other classified advertisement networks and directory listing sites which are ranked high on the search engine lists.

Online  Advertising  includes search engine marketing with Google AdWords, Yahoo SM and Microsoft Adcenter; it also includes buying banners from CPM ad networks as well as social media marketing.

Best of Advertising Blimps

Nowadays, inflatable advertising is a very common business to practice. It has been proved quite effective in grabbing public attention. So, in experts’ opinion, in coming days, it is going to be the first choice for all sorts of promotional activities. Just like any other normal business activities, this one also requires special attention and care. The perfect way to start advertising blimps business would be to consult with other business persons who have already established themselves in is domain. Their information, ideas and supplies; in some instances, affiliate plans also may work out to begin with, and these often work very well.

A few steps can be recommended as the guideline. For instance, let’s have a look upon:

o At first, one should get a license, arrange a business location and find a business name as well. The key idea is to make sure that there would not be any legal hassle.

o Minutely, analyze your rivals. It is quite significant to know how they work and what goes into making a bounce house, balloon inflatables and inflatable toy business successful.

o It would be also quite crucial to know what they charge for buying and renting their inflatables, what areas they deliver too, whether they only rent inflatables or offer other items like chairs, tables, etc.

o Though, it depends upon budget and affordability of every individual but the priority should be to set up complete business operation like website, logo, business cards, etc. this sort of thing enhance credibility and uniqueness of the company in public opinion. In other words, we can say that this is imperative for branding and marketing purpose.

The best part of this business is ‘investment’. It requires very nominal investment compared with many other businesses. But the point also should be noticed here that in order to start an inflatable advertising company, you have to have merchandise. This means buying or renting advertising blimps to determine how much money you can invest to begin with. So, set out a budget and look for good deals. Besides that you should always keep in mind that if you buy a crappy product, it is not going to last long; inflatable jump toys are no different.

Experts insist upon varieties. They believe that varieties in these sorts of advertising strategy are quite crucial. They never let the impact dull or die. Moreover, we must mention here that varieties are USP (unique selling point) of such advertising strategies. As a prudent advertiser, we can sit and discuss design and varieties of advertising blimps with the advertising vendor. We should make sure that our brand logo and name have been smartly highlighted on all the inflatable advertising materials.

Print Advertising Vs Online Advertising

Online  advertising  has experienced such a rapid growth that many well known researchers are already predicting it will run into multiple billions of dollars in the near future. That certainly does not come as surprise as internet users are steadily increasing as well. Besides the increasing number of new users, the old ones are spending more and more time browsing the net. The realization that these numbers can run into staggering amounts is enough to inspire any entrepreneur to expose his business on the web. This situation will certainly have a tremendous effect on traditional print and media  advertising . Print  advertising  versus online  advertising  is a dilemma that many companies are currently faced with.

There are thousands of budding businessmen and women that are internet savvy. Launching their company on the web is a logical step as this lucrative opportunity is simply too good to pass by.  Advertising  trends have clearly shifted from the traditional media to online. With the economy in the downturn situation as it is, research has shown that large companies are seriously cutting down on print  advertising . The online option has proven to be more effective profit wise. The prospects of increased sales and the cost effectiveness of online  advertising  have also given many new hope of prosperity.

This is due to the fact that there are numerous benefits involved when purchasing online. Stressful situations like congested traffic, hunting for a parking space and long queues can be avoided. To top it all it can be done in the comfort and security of your home. There are disadvantages as well. Misleading advertisements that promote inferior products is a huge problem. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to make use of reputed dealers with secure web sites.

While online marketing is on the increase, the power of print  advertising  should certainly not be underestimated. The traditional brochure or flyer can in certain cases be much more effective than their online counterpart. The old methods cannot be written off that easily or entirely for that matter. Postcard and flyer marketing in the targeted neighborhoods can be very rewarding. This is a huge advantage that print  advertising  has over online  advertising . Full-color brochures work wonderfully at meetings and events. There are quite a number of customers that do not have access to the World Wide Web. Sending out brochures to existing ones keeps them in touch with happenings in the business. Another area where it is advisable to use brochures would be on cold calling.

Through print media specific areas of business can receive direct mail and therefore ensure maximum turnover. Marketers can make constructive use of both options to make it work in their favor. Depending on your type of business, careful budget planning that includes all aspects of marketing strategies should be made. In this way you will not lose out and reap the highest benefit of the market. This is after all what marketing success stories are all about; skillful and cost-effective  advertising  campaigns.

Radio Advertising Commandments – Part 1

In my last article “Local  Advertising  – The Biggest Mistakes” we took a look at the major media available for local advertisers to market their products. To follow up, I’d like to discuss the many uses of Radio. Sort of the 10 Commandments Of Radio  Advertising . This will take up several pages, for sure, so I’ll start by asking the most obvious radio questions.

Q: How do I know if radio will work for me & why should I use radio?

A: I usually have gotten these questions when a client is afraid & can’t stomach the idea of paying for an Advertisement that they can’t physically hold on to. In other words, they think that if they can’t SEE their Ad, then no one else can. They seem to have a hard time believing that a disembodied radio voice can move people to buy their product.

Yes, it’s probably true that most advertisers get their feet wet with print  advertising . Your typical print advertiser will place an Ad in a local weekly or daily newspaper and bingo, the next day – traffic. The results can be quite immediate.

Radio is a different animal and although it can work as effectively as print, it can be equally disappointing to a seasoned print advertiser.

Local radio  advertising  can turn off a new advertiser who expects immediate results, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 10 reasons why “immediate results” are hard to come by:

1) the spots were not aggressive enough

2) the offer was not strong enough

3) there was not enough weight (number of spots) booked

4) the wrong local radio station was used to reach the desired market

5) not enough radio stations were booked

6) only radio was used

7) spots were poorly placed throughout the day

8) the production was poorly executed or the wrong announcer used

9) timing of the campaign was off

10) the new client had no name recognition

This brings me to Commandment #1

Don’t Underestimate The Power of Radio.

The voice is a wonderful thing.

Used properly, it can move you to tears, unleash a fury of anger, sooth both physical and mental pain, irritate you like chalk on a blackboard, hypnotize you into the most embarrassing behaviour, fire you up & motivate you to accomplish the most daunting tasks, fire up a nation to battle, seduce the most cold-hearted soul and yes, it can certainly convince you to happily part with your money.

In fact, the people who make radio production their livelyhood, are paid quite handsomely to get you to do things that are not on your priority list.

Ever listen to a movie trailer? Listen to the announcer. His job is to get you to see that movie. Whether you realize it or not, the impact of that voice lasts longer than you may be aware of.

You may remember the visuals, but it is the EMOTIONAL AUDIO IMPRINT that leaves you with a “I’ve got to see this when it comes out!” memory.

It is the same subliminal effect that radio can create.

The problem faced, is that most radio production quality can often be sub-standard.

Let’s face it – the radio station copywriters are under the gun to write & produce dozens of spots a day & there just isn’t enough time to write super creative & dynamic commercials. Even if the copywriter can squeeze out something really hot, there is often a lack of voice-over talent to make it happen. Let’s not talk about the studio engineer’s backlog!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have an effective radio spot come out of a radio station. It just means that to make it more effective, you may have to go to a third party production house to get your spots professionaly produced.

This brings me to Radio Commandment #2

Get The Best Creative Production Possible

Why do you want the best creative possible? Well, there are several reasons.

1) it makes your  advertising  more effective

2) the cost of your campaign can actually be lower if more people respond to a better commercial, as fewer spots are necessary to make the same impact

3) better creative is more memorable.

4) strong creativity entertains and sells at the same time

5) powerful creative radio spots get people talking about the spot & consequently the product

“OK,” you’re saying, “but this sounds like it’s going to cost a fortune!”

Nothing could be further from the truth. What will cost you a fortune, is a radio  advertising  campaign that falls flat because the production was not up to scratch!

Remember,  advertising  is an investment if you eventually get back more than you paid. It’s a fortune if you don’t get back anything!

In order to make sure that there’s a payback, I highly recommend you look at all the variables and creative production is high on the list!

This brings me to Radio Commandment #3

Develop A Strategy & Stick With It

There are many ways to use radio. Short campaigns, long campaigns, image building, promotions, product launches etc.

The first thing to be aware of is that new advertisers have to develop name recognition with a station’s audience. This isn’t as important for long time advertisers who have used other media, but it is crucial for first-timers.

Well known advertisers are seen as reliable and trustworthy. The longer you advertise, the more favour you win with listeners. It is like money in the bank.

I advise all new advertisers to start with an introduction campaign to highlight who they are, what their product is and the benefits of shopping at their store.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t break the rules and have a grand opening with a fantastic door crasher special. Certainly that will work. But ideally, the best results for that type of scenario come when a “teaser campaign” precedes the grand opening.

Let me state that much of the advice offered here is what I believe to be the “safe route” to effective radio  advertising . Even under less optimal conditions, radio can be quite effective!

What you want to do, however, is not succeed by throwing tons of money into your  advertising , but rather cover all the essentials so that you have an effective and cost efficient campaign.

Good planning can go a long way.

In my next article I’ll continue with commandment #4

Use The Right Music Bed

What Online Advertising Options Are Right for You?

Advertising Options:

Offline advertising has so many outlets that we are all familiar with. It’s easy to understand the differences between TV and Billboard or Newspaper versus magazine, but when you want to advertise in the digital space, the spectrum really gets broad and the pricing differences can be tremendous. I want to explain a few channels where you could digitally advertise that can give you very good returns. The main question is who are you trying to reach?

Who are you trying to reach?

This is a quick one and it’s totally up to you. It is the first question you should ask yourself when thinking about advertising on the Internet. Once you have that figured out, here are a few options that will help you boost your online brand.

Social Media Advertising:

Social media advertising is a great place for small to mid-sized companies to test the waters. Advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter are an excellent way to target the very specific audience you are looking to reach. Here is a list of reasons social media advertising is a great place to start: It’s inexpensive On some channels you can spend as little as $5.00 per day It’s familiar You are probably amongst the 600 million people on Facebook, so when you advertise there, you know where your ad is going. It’s highly targeted: On LinkedIn you can target company size, position at the company, rank in the company and of course the area where your target lives – the options are vast. It’s Flexible: If you find that you are talking to the wrong audience, you can make real-time changes to your advertising plan and budget. It has great analytics: You may figure out that your target audience is not men ages 34 – 55 but actually women ages 25 – 30. It’s all in the analytics.

Contextual Advertising:

Between Google, Bing and Yahoo!, you have a lot of options. It’s amazing how targeted you can be with your marketing in search. Not all of the services are offered by all of the channels but a mix with all three can get you: Keyword Advertising: This is the basic function of advertising on any of these channels. Advertising using keywords needs a bit of massaging but it is a great way to target those who are looking for exactly what you are selling.

Highly Geo-targeted options:

You want to advertise to only the people in the neighborhood within 10 miles from your storefront? No problem. Behavioral Targeting: Yahoo! offers this function. This means you can target anyone on the Yahoo! channel who are showing certain behaviors online. For example, if the user is looking at shoe stores online, you can slip your ad in front of them for a special on shoes. Retargeting: This form of advertising offers your business a way to target the user after they have visited your website. You enter a piece of code on the page you want to target and serve ads that are built for that page – after they leave your site.

Mobile Advertising:

Typically mobile is a pay-per-click method of advertising with a comparatively good click-through rate. Mobile advertising is often displayed on games for mobile devices but that doesn’t mean that the CEO of a major company doesn’t enjoy the free version of Words with Friends. Mobile advertising offers: Mobility: Advertising on mobile devices gives you an outlet to put your brand in the hand of a broad audience. Great Branding Opportunities: Videos are often displayed on mobile devices and give you the ability to grab someone’s attention that is standing in line or waiting for a train. The message may not be super timely but it’s one more touch point to let them know you are here. A Broad Reach: Because at the moment, it is very expensive to really geotarget to a micro level, mobile is better for those who want a vast area such as the state where your business offices are located. This broad reach is a great option because the prices for such broad targeting are traditionally less expensive.

Overall, there are plenty of options for targeting your audience online – choosing the right one for you is mainly determined by the simple question. Who do you want to reach? Get that answered and market your company where everyone is hanging our.

The Top Five Secrets To Advertising Strategies – Starting With Your First Ad

Today, most advertising strategies focus on achieving three general goals, as the Small Business Administration indicated in Advertising Your Business:

1) promote awareness of a business and its product or services;

2) stimulate sales directly and “attract competitors’ customers”; and

3) establish or modify a business’ image. In other words, advertising seeks to inform, persuade, and remind the consumer. With these aims in mind, most businesses follow a general process which ties advertising into the other promotional efforts and overall marketing objectives of the business.

An advertising strategy is a campaign developed to communicate ideas about products and services to potential consumers in the hopes of convincing them to buy those products and services. This strategy, when built in a rational and intelligent manner, will reflect other business considerations (overall budget, brand recognition efforts) and objectives (public image enhancement, market share growth) as well. Even though a small business has limited capital and is unable to devote as much money to advertising as a large corporation, it can still develop a highly effective advertising campaign. The key is creative and flexible planning, based on an in-depth knowledge of the target consumer and the avenues that can be utilized to reach that consumer.

STAGES OF ADVERTISING STRATEGY

As a business begins, one of the major goals of advertising must be to generate awareness of the business and its products. Once the business’ reputation is established and its products are positioned within the market, the amount of resources used for advertising will decrease as the consumer develops a kind of loyalty to the product. Ideally, this established and ever-growing consumer base will eventually aid the company in its efforts to carry their advertising message out into the market, both through its purchasing actions and its testimonials on behalf of the product or service.

Essential to this rather abstract process is the development of a “positioning statement, a positioning statement explains how a company’s product (or service) is differentiated from those of key competitors. With this statement, the business owner turns intellectual objectives into concrete plans. In addition, this statement acts as the foundation for the development of a selling proposal, which is composed of the elements that will make up the advertising message’s “copy platform.” This platform delineates the images, copy, and art work that the business owner believes will sell the product.

With these concrete objectives, the following elements of the advertising strategy need to be considered: target audience, product concept, communication media, and advertising message. These elements are at the core of an advertising strategy, and are often referred to as the “creative mix.” Again, what most advertisers stress from the beginning is clear planning and flexibility. And key to these aims is creativity, and the ability to adapt to new market trends. A rigid advertising strategy often leads to a loss of market share. Therefore, the core elements of the advertising strategy need to mix in a way that allows the message to envelope the target consumer, providing ample opportunity for this consumer to become acquainted with the advertising message.

1. TARGET CONSUMER The target consumer is a complex combination of persons. It includes the person who ultimately buys the product, as well as those who decide what product will be bought (but don’t physically buy it), and those who influence product purchases, such as children, spouse, and friends. In order to identify the target consumer, and the forces acting upon any purchasing decision, it is important to define three general criteria in relation to that consumer, as discussed by the Small Business Administration:

1. Demographics-Age, gender, job, income, ethnicity, and hobbies.

2. Behaviors-When considering the consumers’ behavior an advertiser needs to examine the consumers’ awareness of the business and its competition, the type of vendors and services the consumer currently uses, and the types of appeals that are likely to convince the consumer to give the advertiser’s product or service a chance.

3. Needs and Desires-here an advertiser must determine the consumer needs-both in practical terms and in terms of self-image, etc.-and the kind of pitch/message that will convince the consumer that the advertiser’s services or products can fulfill those needs.

2. PRODUCT CONCEPT The product concept grows out of the guidelines established in the “positioning statement.” How the product is positioned within the market will dictate the kind of values the product represents, and thus how the target consumer will receive that product. Therefore, it is important to remember that no product is just itself, but, a “bundle of values” that the consumer needs to be able to identify with. Whether couched in presentations that emphasize sex, humor, romance, science, masculinity, or femininity, the consumer must be able to believe in the product’s representation.

3. COMMUNICATION MEDIA The communication media is the means by which the advertising message is transmitted to the consumer. In addition to marketing objectives and budgetary restraints, the characteristics of the target consumer need to be considered as an advertiser decides what media to use. The types of media categories from which advertisers can choose include the following:

o Print-primarily newspapers (both weekly and daily) and magazines.

o Audio-FM and AM radio.

o Video-Promotional videos, infomercials.

o World Wide Web.

o Direct mail.

o Outdoor advertising-Billboards, advertisements on public transportation (cabs, buses).

After deciding on the medium that is 1) financially in reach, and 2) most likely to reach the target audience, an advertiser needs to schedule the broadcasting of that advertising. The media schedule, as defined by Hills, is “the combination of specific times (for example, by day, week, and month) when advertisements are inserted into media vehicles and delivered to target audiences.”

4. ADVERTISING MESSAGE An advertising message is guided by the “advertising or copy platform,” which is a combination of the marketing objectives, copy, art, and production values. This combination is best realized after the target consumer has been analyzed, the product concept has been established, and the media and vehicles have been chosen. At this point, the advertising message can be directed at a very concrete audience to achieve very specific goals. There are three major areas that an advertiser should consider when endeavoring to develop an effective “advertising platform”:

o What are the product’s unique features?

o How do consumers evaluate the product? What is likely to persuade them to purchase the product?

o How do competitors rank in the eyes of the consumer? Are there any weaknesses in their positions? What are their strengths?

Most business consultants recommend employing an advertising agency to create the art work and write the copy. However, many small businesses don’t have the up-front capital to hire such an agency, and therefore need to create their own advertising pieces. When doing this a business owner needs to follow a few important guidelines.

5. COPY When composing advertising copy it is crucial to remember that the primary aim is to communicate information about the business and its products and services. The “selling proposal” can act as a blueprint here, ensuring that the advertising fits the overall marketing objectives. Many companies utilize a theme or a slogan as the centerpiece of such efforts, emphasizing major attributes of the business’s products or services in the process. While something must be used to animate the theme …care must be taken not to lose the underlying message in the pursuit of memorable advertising.”

When writing the copy, direct language (saying exactly what you mean in a positive, rather than negative manner) has been shown to be the most effective. The theory here is that the less the audience has to interpret, or unravel the message, the easier the message will be to read, understand, and act upon. As Jerry Fisher observed in Entrepreneur, “Two-syllable phrases like ‘free book,’ ‘fast help,’ and ‘lose weight’ are the kind of advertising messages that don’t need to be read to be effective. By that I mean they are so easy for the brain to interpret as a whole thought that they’re ‘read’ in an eye blink rather than as linear verbiage. So for an advertiser trying to get attention in a world awash in advertising images, it makes sense to try this message-in-an-eye-blink route to the public consciousness-be it for a sales slogan or even a product name.”

The copy content needs to be clearly written, following conventional grammatical guidelines. Of course, effective headings allow the reader to get a sense of the advertisement’s central theme without having to read much of the copy. An advertisement that has “50% off” in bold black letters is not just easy to read, but it is also easy to understand.

Introduction to Online Advertising

Our next lesson covers the main items for online advertising. Advertising is probably the most important promotion tool for big brick-and-mortar companies. However, with a SEM businesses, advertising is only a supporting factor. The problem is that the majority of SEM businesses lack the scale to be able to effectively contact large numbers of prospects and clients. Furthermore, there aren’t many places on the Web where prospective clients come in flocks. Therefore, advertising is largely PPC-oriented.

Actually, online advertising is advertising on the Internet. This particular form of advertising is a source of revenue for an increasing number of websites and companies.

A significant number of firms, from small businesses to multinational corporations, incorporate online advertising into their marketing strategy. Online advertisements typically involve at least two separate firms: the advertiser or agency which purchases or sponsors the advertisement and the publisher or network which distributes the ad for display. Because of the close relationship between technical innovation and online advertising, many firms specialize in both. For example, most search engines couple their search service with an advertising program, exploiting the benefits of keyword-based search technology by including ads in search results.

Let’s look closer on the most popular online advertising form as traditional banner. PPC advertising form will be explained in details in 8 lessons of our next Step.

Traditional Banner

A Web banner or banner ad is a widely used form of advertising on the Internet. This kind of online advertising entails embedding an advertisement into a Web page. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking them to the advertiser’s website.

Generally the advertisement is constructed from an image (GIF, JPEG, PNG), JavaScript program or multimedia object employing technologies such as Java, Shockwave or Flash, and often employing animation or sound to maximize presence. Images are usually in a high-aspect ratio shape. Banners are usually placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

The Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression“. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”. Many banner ads work on a click-through payback system.

At the base of a click-through system are mathematical calculations of the number of users (users clicking on an ad) divided by impression number. We remember that the term impression means the number of times the ad was delivered. For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%.

It should be noted that banner ad click-through rates have fallen over time, often measuring significantly less than 1% and choice of an appropriate advertising site with high affinity is very important crucial factor in this situation. Personalized ads, unusual formats, and more obtrusive ads typically have higher click-through rates than standard banner ads.

When the advertiser scans their log files and detects that a Web user has visited the advertiser’s site from the content site by clicking on the banner ad, the advertiser sends the content provider a small amount of money (usually around five to ten US cents). This payback system is often how the content provider is able to pay for the Internet access to supply the content in the first place.

Nine Common Banner Ad Mistakes to Avoid

Banner advertising expert Rob Frankel advises e-marketers to avoid the following mistakes when creating their banner ads:

  1. Overloaded. Too many colors. Too slow to load. Too hard to read. Nobody wants to grow old waiting for your banner ad to load. Frankel advises designing banner ads that will load and view easily with last year’s technology. “Personally, I design pages for people running no more than Netscape 2.0 on the equivalent of a 486 running at 66 MHz and 256 colors,” says Frankel. “That means your art should still be no deeper than eight bits, unless you’re a true minimalist and can bring it in at no more than four.”
  2. Unattractive. People like good-looking stuff. What works for Cindy Crawford can work for you, too. So if you’re not a digital Da Vinci, find someone who is and pay him or her a few bucks to make your banner look great.
  3. Too many bells and whistles. Just because technology offers you bells and whistles doesn’t mean you have to use every one of them. Chances are that the average Web surfer has been through several sites before he or she gets to your banner. Give the reader a break. Don’t overdo motion, movement, or message changes. And allow some time to digest what you’re displaying.
  4. Illiteracy and illegibility. These are the ads that make you scrunch up your face and twist your head trying to make some sense out of the illegible scrawls that some knucklehead thinks are cool. But prospects don’t care how cool you think it looks. If they can’t read it, you’ve lost any chance of their clicking on it.
  5. Missing link. Your banner looks great but isn’t linked to anything. That’s a mistake that anyone should be able to detect and prevent with a simple check.
  6. Link errors. Your banner looks great. The link works… directly to a 404 message (meaning the requested Web page was not found). Maybe this one isn’t your fault. Maybe your webmaster inadvertently forgot to tell you he or she switched servers. But even if it was the webmaster’s fault, who do you think will catch the blame? Keep checking those banner links every few days.
  7. Weak message. The same things that make good ads make good banners. Unfortunately, the same things that make bad ads make horrible banners. If you don’t know how to write and design a clever, compelling message, hire someone who does. Nothing turns off potenĀ­tial prospects more than a really stupid attempt at being clever, an offense usually committed with the aid of a bad pun. Remember that your ad is a representative of you, containing a smattering of your personality and ability. If it looks dopey to a viewer, guess what they’re going to think about you? It’s better to be clear than clever.
  8. Confusing message. Your banner looks pretty, but nobody understands what the heck you’re talking about. This is the number-one mistake made by do-it-yourselfers.
  9. Boring banners. One common mistake is that your banner doesn’t compel your recipients to respond within a certain time frame. Without a deadline, there is no immediacy to act, which means they scroll away until they forget it.

Web banners function the same way as traditional advertisements are intended to function: notifying consumers of the product or service and presenting reasons why the consumer should choose the product in question, although Web banners differ in that the results for advertisement campaigns may be monitored real-time and may be targeted to the viewer’s interests.

The evidence shows that Web banner ads are restricted by high cost and limited physical banner area. Let’s look at the Marketplace section of SearchEngineWatch.com:

Out of 10 advertisers only 3 are in the SEM services business. These companies – BruceClay, KeywordRanking and MoreVisibility – are the largest players in the industry; they have enough wherewithal to run these ads and enough resources to satisfy a large flow of traffic.

Pay per click advertising

Pay per click or PPC advertising is an arrangement in which webmasters (operators of websites), acting as publishers, display clickable links from advertisers, in exchange for a charge per click. As this industry evolved, a number of advertising networks developed which acted as middlemen between these two groups (publishers and advertisers). Each time a (believed to be) valid Web user clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays the advertising network, who in turn pays the publisher a share of this money. This revenue sharing system is seen as an incentive for click fraud.

Though many companies offer pay per click system as one of their services. Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and MSN AdCenter are top players in this field.

As far as PPC advertising is the first advertising option for any new on-line businesses it became one of the dominant and widely used marketing tools.

What you should remember:

  1. A Web banner is displayed when a Web page that references the banner is loaded into a Web browser. This event is known as an “impression”. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click-through”.
  2. Banners should be placed on Web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

What is Product Advertising?

Product  advertising  is a simple idea on paper; but like most things which appear simple at first blush, it can be an incredibly complex one in practice. The idea behind product  advertising  needs no explanation – it is simply presenting a product in the hopes of generating consumer interest. Where things become thornier is when it comes to deciding what benefit the product has to offer and to whom. Identifying a target market and finding the best way to reach these consumers can be challenging in itself. Not every media is ideal for getting your marketing message across to every audience.

The answer to how best to reach the target market often begins with a careful consideration of the product itself; who will use this product’ What are these people most likely to consider the biggest advantages of this product? From this, one can often decide on a strategy in terms of which media will provide their product advertisement which will make an impact on the largest number of consumers within this market, as well as helping to begin coming up with ideas on how to present the product as something which will improve the lives of these consumers.

Along with media placements which will be more likely to directly speak to the target market in question, most successful product  advertising  campaigns will also include  advertising  placements in media which reaches a general audience. After all, no matter how specialized of a niche market you are dealing with, these consumers also watch television; listen to the radio and so on.

Product  advertising  is something which can be so complex that most companies find it useful to engage the services of a marketing or  advertising  agency to handle the work of reaching the consumer. The company can then devote their resources elsewhere, while reaping the benefit of having  advertising  professionals on their side; professionals who know how to speak to consumers and get the company’s message across and have extensive experience in using various forms of media to make a favorable impression on consumers. This is a more cost effective model of product  advertising  for the product manufacturer and permits them to focus on their product and on serving the needs of their customer base.