Search engine marketing (SEM) is the area of online advertising that secures the majority of overall online advertising dollars (a combination of all online advertising areas like paid search, display ads, affiliate advertising, video advertising, e-mail advertising, online classifieds, etc.). SEM wins so many marketers’ online advertising dollars because it’s easy to target campaigns around optimal key phrases that prequalify people who are in the most transactional mind-set. And, advertisers only pay when people click on their ads, making the spending more efficient. Search engine marketing is more likely to deliver people who are ready to buy, as the ads are focused around searches that are targeted to phrases that represent your product or service.
As powerful as SEM is, it isn’t the only online advertising game in town.
In order to get your brand out there, sometimes you need to build awareness via other online advertising vehicles. That means paying for exposure in other places your target audience visits.
Different Types of Online Advertising
Understanding how online advertising works is the foundation for spending money to make money. Online advertising goes far beyond the words pay per click. There are more tools to tap than just search engine PPC ads. Before we get too far into this, let’s defi ne a few online advertising terms.
Vertical search is a streamlined search solution that helps web surfers fi nd what they need. Vertical search engines focus on a smaller search-topic universe leading to more concentrated results. Online yellow pages, job searches, local searches, and product searches are types of vertical searches. There are vertical search engines that are tied to a specific industry that organizations can advertise in. The beauty of vertical search is the specific targeting, so pick placements that make the most sense. For example, if you offer textiles to the fashion world you might want buy a listing on WeConnectFashion.com, a vertical search engine specific to the fashion industry. You might also test a buy for textile-centered key phrases on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. No matter what the industry, there is a good chance there is a vertical search engine that specializes in reaching that audience. It can be a challenge to find and get listed in these engines, but if there are popular options in your industry, they may be worth tapping.
Display advertising is an interactive way of promoting products and services online. Display ads are sometimes referred to as banner ads. They are, for the most part, image ads that you see on websites. Portals like Yahoo! sell display ads. Visit any of their sections like Yahoo! Shopping and you will see square ads. If you hit the refresh button on sites that have these display ads, you will often see other display ads in rotation. Display ads range in size and technical capability. See this article (www.iab.net) for Ad Unit Guidelines.
E-mail marketing involves reaching prospective customers in their e-mail inbox.
Some companies sell ads in their targeted e-mail lists or sell their names directly to online advertisers. E-mail advertising could be in the form of a newsletter, an ad in another company’s e-mail, e-mailing a list with a dedicated message, or communicating to current customers with your own e-mail list.
Viral marketing (also referred to as word-of-mouth marketing) is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message.
Google AdWords (among others) will allow you to place your ads on the news, opinion, entertainment, and other sites that your audience frequents.
You can specify what general types of venues or specific blogs you want the ads to appear on. The publishers of these websites get ads placed around their content as part of Google’s AdSense program (www.google.com/adsense).
When a reader clicks on your ad, the publisher and Google both make money.
You should compare AdSense to competitors like Microsoft’s Bing Ads[http://bingads.microsoft.com] if you want to do a revenue sharing plan and host ads on your website.
Blogs can help build relationships, create strategic marketing partnerships, and drive new traffic to websites. Advertisers can buy ads directly on popular blogs, or advertisers can buy ads across a network of blog sites through companies.
Behavioral advertising tracks users’ actions online so ads that are relevant to their surfing behaviors (sites visited, products purchased) can be displayed.
For example, if someone visits and leaves a banking website, an ad for a 401(k) assessment may appear on the next website the surfer visits. There are also retargeted ads, meaning that if someone visits a site and leaves, the advertiser can have their ads reappear on other websites that person visits to hopefully gain his or her attention with the “tell them, tell them what you told them, and tell them one more time” tactic.
Social Media Advertising
Social media marketing may involve creating social media advertisements to engage customers or buying advertising on social media sources. Blogs are a marketing tool that fall under the social media umbrella. Social media ads (ads on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can be an option for some advertisers.
When you created your Facebook profile, you most likely included your age, city, interests, and more. Advertisers can target their ads specifically to people based on this. Visit http://www.facebook.com/advertising/ and create an ad (you can play with the feature without putting in a credit card) to see how targeted your ads can be. Ads can also be placed on Facebook group pages that cover a topic. The audience on those fan-based social media sites view the ads as desired content.
Social media ads can be lucrative for the right kind of product, but they do not work for everyone. Rupert Murdoch paid nearly $600 million for MySpace, expecting it to become an advertising cash cow. It never did. When the masses are using social media every day, your ads have to make an impression against a sea of noise. If you feel social media advertising will drive sales for your product, by all means take it for a test spin to discover your mileage.
Another place social media advertising can be tested is within workrelated social media like LinkedIn. There are a number of human resources and employment-related advertisers who swear by LinkedIn. Advertisers can target by geography, job function, seniority, industry, company size, gender, and age (https://www.linkedin.com/directads/).
Contextual advertising allows advertisers to target keywords and phrases within content on other people’s websites. On free press-release sites, the online content often has links in it. If you put your mouse over these words, they sometimes link to advertisers.
Affiliate marketing is revenue sharing that occurs between online advertisers (also called merchants) and online salespeople (also called publishers).
Compensation is based on performance measures, typically in the form of sales, clicks, registrations, or a hybrid model. The only time advertisers pay is if their publishers (website owners) take actions. This form of marketing has a reputation as the “black sheep” of online advertising. The “only pay for performance” compensation setup has caused some publishers to engage in unethical or “gray” marketing practices to enhance their percentage of revenue sharing. If your organization is in a heavily regulated industry, you should know that this medium is the most susceptible to regulatory flagging.
For most businesses, affiliate marketing can really pay off. Amazon has an incredibly successful affiliate marketing program called Amazon Associates, paying websites a percentage of sales for products sold (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/join/landing/main.html). In fact, this program is the most successful affiliate program on the web. Often affiliate marketing can lead to larger partnerships. Sometimes affiliates will team up above and beyond revenue sharing.
With affiliate marketing, advertisers become affiliates by allowing other websites or adverting networks to promote an offer and get paid when they produce sales, leads, e-mail addresses, or whatever the desired “action” is.
Affiliates must have a sound way of tracking the actions to make sure that they are:
– Paying their partners correctly
– Submitting accurate action counts for compensation
– Tracking the quality of the actions
Most affiliates use third-party affiliate management software companies to track actions and pay and recruit affiliates.