Toby Gabriner, President, Tribal Fusion, takes us through his top tips on what to do and what not to do when integrating online advertising into your marketing mix.
Online advertising is an excellent way to reach thousands, even millions, of potential customers. Managed well it’s a valuable addition to the marketing mix.
One of the best value solutions to reach high numbers of people is to engage the services of an ad network, a system in which adverts are placed across a wide inventory of publishing houses’ websites.
A good ad network can move adverts between different sites to make sure they are placed where the highest number of relevant people will see them, following real-time analysis of website performance.
A number of marketers are seeing the advantages of working with ad networks, but how can you ensure that your ad network is working best for you? And how can you avoid the potential pitfalls?
1. Don’t just take ad networks’ word at face value.
Make sure that everything your ad network provider promises to do for you is qualified. As a customer you deserve transparency – are you getting it? You need to be getting clear answers to questions such as the size of their distribution network, and how they can prove that your adverts are being posted in the most appropriate places.
2. Do know where your ads run.
Prevent your ad from showing up around questionable content by asking for a full site list or a list of sites where your ad may appear on from your ad network. If your ad network is transparent, it will be able to provide this information, give you a larger degree of control over your campaign.
For better or for worse, there’s a lot of remnant inventory out there – ensure that your campaign doesn’t fall victim to low quality sites by working with transparent networks.
3. Don’t let your ad network rest on its laurels.
Make sure your ad network provider is continuously analysing their inventory in real time, to find out which sites and adverts are working best, and rearranges placement of your adverts to make sure they are being seen by the largest number of relevant people.
4. Do ask for more than reach.
Online advertising is no longer about how many you reach but who your reach. Targeted messages perform much better than non-targeted ones – make sure your ad network can reach the audiences that matter the most to your brand.
5. Don’t assume you need a vertical ad network to reach vertical audiences.
Horizontal ad networks have the widest general reach as they span all vertical sectors. By applying vertical capabilities, a good ad network will be able to target specific vertical audiences across a horizontal ad network, meaning they reach the highest number of relevant people.
Contextual analysis at the individual webpage level is a highly accurate method of finding the right targets for your adverts across a diverse range of sites– you don’t need to be on a specific travel site to find people who are interested in travel. What matters most is accurate analysis of the available data and all pages within an ad network’s inventory of sites.
6. Do look into a cross-platform strategy.
You can create a powerful mix by getting mobile involved. Good ad networks should be a one stop shop for all advertising platforms, so never assume yours can’t be.
7. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
You need the highest value for the time and money you are investing in an ad network. Don’t become static in the tools you use – constantly innovate. Question whether the tools you’re using really are the best – they may be now but that doesn’t mean they still will be in six months.
Don’t just stick to what you know or think works – test and re-test to make sure the system you currently have in place is giving you the best value. Dynamic ads, for example, are an innovative way of targeting specific content within the same advert to each individual consumer that views it, to maximise reach for minimum investment.
8. Do look under the hood.
It’s easy to set up a network – just sign up a couple of websites and you’re on your way. What sets networks apart is the technology platform they use. A good technology platform will be able to provide in-depth targeting, advanced campaign reporting and analytics, and comprehensive optimisation. If your ad network can’t go beyond standard run-of-network campaigns, keep looking.
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