Feb 19, 2016 by Media Solutions Category: Blog 0 comments


What Digital Advertising Is and Is Not

In most cases, paid digital advertising is a powerful and integral part of a comprehensive media campaign. I spend a lot of time recommending and answering questions about digital media – what it can do, how it integrates with other parts of your media campaign, how targeting works, and ultimately, how it helps our clients reach their goals.

Digital ads are VERY powerful – they follow users across various devices (from their work computer to their mobile devices, and then to their home computers if they’re connected to WiFi), platforms (apps, online video, even connected devices like Roku and Chromecast), and across vast networks of websites.  Digital ads can be everywhere, all at once, and with a level of targeting that I’ve often heard described as “creepy”, and “big brother” – terrible for individual privacy, but an absolute goldmine of data for advertisers. Even when people can’t fully conceptualize how digital ads work, they tend to understand that they’re a powerful tool with an unprecedented amount of available data and analytics. Sometimes this leads people toward unrealistic expectations for their digital ads.

As I said above, digital ads are VERY powerful, but there are some things they cannot do. First and foremost – once you become familiar with the digital platforms, you’re not likely to be surprised (at least right now) by truly unique platforms. Digital Display, Pre-Roll and Mid-Roll Video, targeted E-Mail, Native, Search (like Google or Bing), and social advertising (which also overlaps with Native). The true power is in the implementation, and the right agency will include suggestions for the proper mix and ways to leverage those platforms to guide people through the funnel and meet your goals. Buzz words need not terrify or excite you – Native Advertising has been around since before radio and television, and programmatic just means “automated using algorithms”.

In addition, while digital analytics can get very specific and powerful, they usually require advanced backend access and someone skilled enough to put the proper code in place to unlock their full potential. If your agency is promising you advanced analytics but doesn’t ask you for backend access to your website, you may want to delve deeper into how they plan to provide those. If your ROI goal is based on lead gen and sales, you’ll also need to work with your agency to develop a process from start-to-finish, from the digital world into the real world, that ensures accountability over how those leads are tracked and converted.  This last point leads me to our next limitation:

Because of their advanced level of targeting, digital ads increase the likelihood of conversion significantly, but they cannot guarantee conversion. Just like a dirty store or restaurant, poor salespeople, or poor quality goods can stand in the way of a conversion, so can a poorly-designed website, poorly-managed social media, and poor online reviews. With digital ads, we have unprecedented ability to guide people where you want them to go, but we cannot make them convert. If a person clicks an ad for a Pizza Restaurant, they’re also likely to research that restaurant on Yelp – if it has poor reviews, and it appears the owners are unresponsive, they’re less likely to convert in the end.

In spite of the limitations, digital advertising is here to stay. It increases the frequency of your messaging and enhances the rest of your media. It provides targeted, and therefore valuable, impressions. It sticks in peoples’ minds, so that even if they don’t click on your ads, they’re more likely to end up taking an action with you in the future. It also creates an easy testing ground for various creative, and because creative can be switched out easily and almost instantaneously, you can fine-tune your creative for the most effective campaign with real-time analytics.

If you have questions about digital ads and how they can play an important part of your next campaign, send us a message or write us an email!

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