When it comes to the world of advertising and marketing, like most small business owners. I’ve wasted many thousands of pounds over the years on purchasing online digital advertising on news sites, industry publications and even directories
The reason I say ‘wasted’ is the fact that, for any form of online advertising to be worth the investment. There needs to be a potential return. Sure, returns come in all different formats. The objective might be to boost your brand awareness, sell a new product or generate leads for your business.
For me, I can honestly say that the tens of thousands of pounds I have spent on banner advertising on top news and industry sites have provided zero return. Why? Simply because it was sold to me using meaningless data just to make it sound very good.
What a fantastic advertising deal this sounds
Have you ever been contacted by the sales team at your local newspaper who want you to purchase banner advertising on their website? I have many times and no doubt you have too. Now, have the media sales team made the banner advertising deal sound so fantastic that you just cannot afford to miss out on this fantastic deal? WOW! Imagine your business being featured in your local newspaper that gets 3 million impressions per month, for a cost of only £500! Sounds like an incredible investment, doesn’t it? After all, you’d be getting 6,000 impressions for every pound you invest. That’s if you are sold on the number of impressions your banner advert will receive.
What are impressions when related to any media website?
Before I go into explaining why it might not be such a good advertising deal, I firstly want to simply explain what an impression is when related to advertising.
“Every time any page is loaded on the media website, it counts as one impression.”
Let’s keep with the scenario of the media site securing 3 million impressions per month. That means three million pages on their website have been loaded – NOT READ. These impressions might not even be real people as each time Google (and other search engines) crawl the website, counts towards that impressions.
How you can verify real impressions
If you are ever considering advertising on a news site or directory based on impressions, you should ask the media sales rep for proof of their stated monthly impressions. A screenshot can be taken from their Google Analytics account as real proof of the number of monthly impressions. After all, if you are going to be paying a few hundred pounds advertising your business on their website. The least they can do is provide you with this simple screenshot. It only takes one minute.
Real figures you should be basing your decision on
What you really need to know though is, the average number of ‘unique visits’ per month instead. A unique visitor is a real person who has not viewed any page on that website within the past month. Going one step further, you need to know the demographic split of those monthly unique visitors.
Only now are you able to make a real informed decision on the potential reach of your advertising campaign.
As an example. For the purposes of this article and for me to prove a point. I’m going to fabricate a fashion business who sells designer dresses. Out of those 3 million impressions, how many impressions are your target audience? Let’s say that the media sales person has provided you with all the stats you have asked for and there are 250,000 unique views per month on their site. Now, what percentage of those 250K people will be your target audience?
THIS is the fact and figure you NEED and MUST base your media banner advertising decision on. Why? Because it will have an INFORMED decision on your investment spend.
Measuring the impact
I know that there are never any guaranteed returns when it comes to online advertising. I would be stupid to state otherwise. You do need to know however if your advertising investment has been worth it.
A straightforward way to check is to login to your Google Analytics account. If you don’t have one, why? It’s free and gives you access to so much information. Once you have logged in – browse to ACQUISION > All Traffic > Referrals. Set the date range to when your banner advert has been live. Look down the list of websites until you see the URL (website address) of the site you have advertised on and look at ‘new users’. This will tell you the number of people who have clicked on your banner advert who was directed to your website.
If you paid £500 but only got 5 people clicking through to your website. Was that a worthwhile investment? If I said to you – “Give me £500 and I will send five people to your website each month with no guarantee that they will buy or even enquire”. Would you snap my hand off? Of course, you wouldn’t.
As small business owners, we need to be more aware
Do not get me wrong. I’m not against purchasing banner advertising on news or industry related websites. I have personally run very effective banner advertising campaigns throughout the years providing a fantastic return on investment for me clients. How? I simply did my research and asked the right questions.
To conclude this post, anytime you are considering advertising on any website. Ask yourself this one question:
“Does advertising on this website have the ability to drive real targeted people (a potential new customer)?”
If you are a large brand with very deep pockets and the aim of your banner advertising is to spread your brand awareness far and wide, then sure. Go for it, but most small business owner’s do not have that luxury so we all need to be a little more vigilant before investing our advertising budget.
I hope you found this post useful and good luck!
A Quick Recap:
- Is the Audience right for you?
- Prove the stats (Ask for unique visitors and demographics)
- Determine your budget and your ROI
- If in doubt ask, there are Advertising Laws and you have the right to ask