Online advertising has changed marketing over the past few decades. Newspapers used to be the number one source of ads for consumers, but readership peaked in 1990 at 62.3 million U.S. readers a day, and has been declining steadily since. Today it’s estimated that less than 50% of all adults read a daily newspaper. Now, with between an estimated 114.9 million televisions in homes in the United States and 80% of all adults spending time online, television and online ads are vying for consumers’ attention.
Television advertising still gets the majority of advertising budgets, but the market share of online advertising is increasing every year. And with consumers shifting from traditional TV viewing to watching more of their favorite programming online and on mobile devices, it’s worth looking into online ads.
Television vs. Online Advertising
When you are looking for a place to spend your small business advertising dollars, TV is still an effective medium, but is a one-way street. Your ads are shown to viewers, but you get no feedback on whether or not your ad was watched, understood or followed up on.
Online advertising, on the other hand, allows you to get an interactive report of your customers’ behavior. Your website analytics can gather information from Internet browsers, such as the URL of the website a visitor was at before they came to yours, their IP address so you have an idea where in the world they are, their Operating System and computer hardware, what pages they went to on your website and how long they stayed there. You can tell a lot about your customers by combining this information with Google Adwords, which can be used to track how your advertising is doing. Adwords analytics tells you how many times your ad was viewed, how often consumers click your ad through to your website, how long they stay on your site, what other pages they visit before leaving and if they buy (convert) or not.
With TV, every viewer sees the same ad. But online advertising can be customized to the viewer. Different ads can be shown based on keywords. Ad software scans the web page for keywords and places ads in banners or pop ups based on what it finds. Search engines also place ads on the results page based on your current and prior searches. This allows marketers to tailor their message to consumers based on their interests.
Interruption vs. Added Value
While TV viewers still see commercials as an interruption, web ads can add value to your browsing session and give you useful information. Consumers have more control over what they see on the web and can even opt out of some ads. Google already uses searches, browsing history and Gmail messages to tailor the ads a browsers see to their preferences. And with a free Google account at https://www.google.com/settings/ads/, browsers can set preferences to further refine the ads they see.
Online advertising can target a number of web and mobile devices, catching your customers on the go, while TV ads will generally only reach consumers on their TV when they are at home. As a marketer, you have a much broader reach with online ads for your small business and the potential for a greater return on your investment.