We continue our question and answer session with Kora Minton. When we left off Kora Minton was discussing display on Facebook. In this session we’ll discuss video, site-targeting selection, creative and more.
What about online video?
If you have TV commercials that you can repurpose for online or an agency that can create a 15 second online video ad for you for under $1,000, online video is a great way to go. Online video ads don’t have to be high production. They just have to be HD and have a good size ratio so that they can expand to large TV screens without losing crispness. Most consumer video recorders these days allow for that.
Online video ads can do better when they look like they were shot by an amateur because they look more authentic. This works especially well with the under 35 market who prefer “authenticity” over “slickness” in their advertising.
The only inventory worth buying is pre-roll. This is the video that runs before content and the best length is 15 seconds. You don’t want to spend higher than a $12 CPM as any more than that your ROI will suffer. And let’s not forget, you want your spots to be well targeted. Ideally, the placements will be targeted by zip code, age and gender at minimum. You really want to laser in on your target audience. That’s true of any display advertising.
Is there value in being on small no-name websites?
Yes! About 90% of advertising on websites is not sold by the website itself. Websites typically can’t sell their entire inventory, so they sell the remnant to intermediaries or ad networks. Again, that’s where 90% of the inventory ends up. Also, websites don’t typically have different buckets for placements they will only sell directly – like “premium” placements – and separate buckets for ads they sell to ad networks. No matter what they say, typically ALL of their inventory is in the same bucket. So, the inventory that you buy on an ad network is the same inventory you would buy directly from the website, but it’s much cheaper to buy it from a network. Often it is 1/3 or 1/10 of the price of buying the ads directly from a website.
Just as important, the ad networks aggregate the impressions from a multitude of sites and apply a layer of technology. This targeting technology tracks online behavior of users on the web. This is done anonymously and in aggregate so no personally identifiable information like names, addresses, etc. are included.
For example, the tracking technology from Blue Kai is able to identify computers that recently researched flights to Honolulu using an OTA (online travel agency) like Expedia. So, if you are a Honolulu hotel looking to book rooms, your agency can go to an ad network that works with Blue Kai technology and say, “I’d like all my ads to target folks using computers that have recently been used to research flights to Hawaii.” And they can do that!
To target those exact folks, they are going to need to run ads on a huge website or more than one website. To get any decent volume they are going to need to show ads to those folks wherever they show up on the internet. And to do that they are going to have to access to inventory on 100’s of different websites. Since ad networks have 90% of inventory from 100’s of different websites, they are perfect for behavioral targeting technology.
Getting back to your question, successful online advertisers don’t care as much which websites their ads show up on, as much as they care who their ads show up in front of. Those folks could be on any website.
How often do you find yourself on little no-name websites reading a recipe or researching something you are interested in? Check your online history. I’ll bet that a decent % of the websites you’ve visited in the past week aren’t big brand websites. Your customers are surfing the Internet the same way. If you are concerned about showing up on sites with offensive or questionable content, a reputable digital agency knows the brand safe networks to work with and what safeguards to ask for when they negotiate the placements.
What do you say to clients who want to run on well-known websites? Is there a benefit by association to these advertisers?
Yes, it will. I read a study done by a group that advocates for big brand sites, that big brand sites will lift their advertisers brand by 2.5x more smaller brand or unknown brand sites. But the CPM prices of big brand sites are typically 10x+ that of smaller brand or unknown brand sites. So, that erases any brand lift benefit you get by buying the big brand sites.
When it comes to creative, what are best practices for display advertising?
Simple best practices are: Copy should be an easy 1-second read. The image should be as literal as possible. If you are selling coffee, I highly recommend using actual coffee or a cup of coffee your ad instead of a person smiling, a person falling asleep at their desk, or any other image that requires your audience to “make the translation” from the image to your product. This isn’t TV or radio. You only have a second or two to make an impression with a banner ad. They won’t “make the translation”. They don’t have the time or the attention span. If they are the market for coffee and you have coffee in your ad, you will most likely get a higher response rate than if you don’t.
You don’t want to just create one ad or two ads and let them run throughout your campaign. You want ads that are specifically designed for each sub-target of your target market. Your ads for teenagers should be very different than ads for their parents. Your digital media partner will be buying placements targeted to each of your sub-targets and you should have unique creative to run for each of those sub-targets. For every $5,000 you spend on one sub-targets, you should be testing 3-4 versions of your ad.
Your digital advertising agency will be tracking the effectiveness each creative asset by measuring the number of sales on your site that each ad generates. They will increase the rotation of the ads that are driving sales and will stop rotating the ads that aren’t doing much for you. It’s funny. The ad that ends up driving the most sales will, 9 times out of 10, be the ad that you thought would do the worst. Online creative is highly counter-intuitive. Ever see a brand running an ugly ad? That ad just may be driving the most sales for them. Honor your brand guidelines, but if you can experiment with different images, black or white backgrounds, text sizes, etc.. you will surprised how much your agency can do to test and isolate the creative winners and losers … and really boost your ROI over time.
How much of my budget should I allocate to display advertising?
How much time does your target market spend online? What are they typically doing online? Working with an agency allows a brand to develop a media plan based on research into the audience they want to reach. Across verticals, digital budgets range from low 20% to just over 30% as a portion of a company’s overall marketing budget. You need to look into search and social usage trends of your audience as inputs to your media mix. There’s no single answer. As with so much in digital, the answer is…”it depends.”