For Web-based small businesses, word of mouth isn’t the only way to get attention. Numerous systems for effective advertising have been developed for the Web, but truth be told most have been far from successful. Random banner ads, pop-up windows and even site sponsorships have failed to deliver targeted traffic for your business. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that pop-up ads are about as successful today as spam.
Getting the right audience to see the ad is as important as the ad itself. One way to drive targeted traffic is though the use of keywords and sponsored links on Google AdWords. While many have long since given up on AdSense, Google’s publisher network, the search engine has been working to address user feedback.
One major complaint about the system was where ads would run, and with little reporting to advertisers where their ads had even run—thus it was worse than “if you blink you miss it,” in fact, chances were you’d never see it. Additionally, ads could run on entirely irrelevant sites. Google recognized the faults both on the publisher and advertiser side and spent the greater part of 2007 improving the experience.
Google has gone to great lengths to provide more visibility for advertisers. When buying on the network, advertisers now have the ability to create custom channels, grouping together sites with particular demographic ranges and site targeting. The result is a greater potential for targeted traffic. Additionally as an advertiser, you can also opt-out of having your ads appear alongside user-generated content, if you don’t feel comfortable with the inconsistency.
Furthermore, as an advertiser you’re also able to pay for ads in the way you can feel comfortable. You can pay for the placement targeting of those custom channels on a CPC, a cost-per-click, or a cost-per-impression basis. It’s all done on an auction model.
More importantly, you can target by geolocation, daypart, and demographic objectives. This gives greater flexibility and allows you to get the most bang for the advertising bucks.
AdSense is also more than just words, and these ads have gone high-tech. Google has added images, gadgets, and video. You can upload a graphic as part of your ad creative or even a video. Image ads are often bought on a cost-per-action basis, meaning a user must follow a certain action before the advertiser hands money over to Google for the impression. This may mean a visit to the landing page or it may mean actually purchasing an item or filling out a form.
Further transparency is provided in performance reports. Advertisers used to get a report that said your ad ran “x” number of times. The performance reports now allow you to see where your ads are performing, on which sites, and how they are performing. That’s right, you actually know where your ads are. Google sees this move as offing a lot of transparency and many advertisers and search-engine marketing firms are starting to come around.