The digital world is changing, but paid ads still add a lot of value. It’s a new year, and as with any new year, it’s useful to evaluate your advertising strategy from the previous year. Evaluation is essential, as online advertising is a highly dynamic and volatile industry.
It’s important to keep on top of the latest developments in the ad space, as well as where your business goals fit into those developments. It’s also important to ensure your ad campaigns are niche-specific in order to guarantee traction and engagement.
Here’s what you need to know in 2018 when it comes to paid advertising, and whether it’s worth it for you..
Advertising in search as we head into 2018
No-one will be shocked to discover that Google still reigns supreme in the search world of 2018. According to a recent eMarketer report, Google owned 75.8% of the search market in 2016, and it’s said that it will reach 80% in 2018.
The interesting bit is that, this year, Google is looking to use machine learning to move from advertising based on keywords to advertising based on user intent. This is a big shift in how Google advertising has worked for years, focusing on in-market audiences.
With in-market audiences, the idea is that Google uses your potential customers’ search query data and activity to determine those who are closer to the end of the buying cycle, and shows them relevant search ads to enable them take action quickly.
It’s clever technology, and when used effectively, will be much more likely to convert a potential customer into a real one — making Google Adwords a lucrative prospect for brands in 2018.
Top AdWords tips for 2018
- Check your demographics. If you’ve run paid ads before, you can see who is most likely to convert in the ‘All Converters Audience’ in AdWords. Or you can use your audience profile in Google Analytics to understand the demographic makeup of your site visitors. Use this information for your in-market audiences.
- Don’t neglect keywords. In-market audiences can be combined with related keywords to build smaller and more qualified audiences, increasing the chance of a conversion.
- Be selective with your industry. When looking at in-market audiences, select the industry most relevant to you and you customers. This is the best way to make sure your ad appears to the right people at the right time.
Mobile ads are winning
Any online paid advertising strategy needs to take a proactive stance on mobile advertising; especially knowing that desktop advertising is expected to decrease at the rate of 6% in 2018. Over 87% of internet users use mobile devices to access the web on a regular basis.
You can see the trend in this graph from the Wall Street Journal showing that ad spend on desktops has fallen dramatically over the last couple of years, with mobile ad spending increasing as a result:
It’s hardly a surprise, seeing as average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to the average desktop conversion rates (Source).
The truth is, if you want to continue to thrive and a gain competitive advantage in the ever-changing digital marketing space over the coming year, you need to look to the future – and that future is mobile.
Are display ads worth it in 2018?
Though display ads tend to get a bad press as people move more into the realms of PPC and social media ads, some brands still swear by this old-school online advertising tactic. Adobe seems to still find them useful: their study found that every £1 spent on display ads generated an average of £1.94 in sales, which is really significant ROI.
It’s also worth noting that in addition to online sales, the study showed that online ads had a significant impact on offline sales. In fact, according to IAB’s chief digital officer, Tim Elkington, the majority of sales generated by the online ads occurred in-store.
So, whether your business is online or offline, it seems that display ads are still worth it for some.
Facebook rules social ads
When it comes to the social advertising side of things, Facebook remains king. It’s ad revenue alone is in the billions of $ (see the Salesforce graphic below).
This is because Facebook has the largest audience, and the best advertising tools in the social media business. Reach their 1.59 billion active users every month with some targeted ads.
Facebook’s algorithm does not make it easy for business pages to succeed on Facebook. Not everyone who likes or follows your page will see your posts, that’s just the way things are now.
Facebook takes into consideration a large array of user preferences, common interactions and much more when it comes to showing posts. So, unless you meet those exact criteria, you may never be seen in your potential customers feeds.
This may be why your business is struggling to get traction on social media.
Why? The reality is that Facebook is a business. And how does a business such as Facebook make money? Paid advertising.
Using Facebook’s Audience Insights tools, you can craft audiences based on geolocation, interests, age and much more. Then you can create specific ads for that select audience within a budget.
Are social ads worth it?
Compared to Google Adwords, this very much depends on your business and your specific audience. If your core demographics are not using Facebook, it doesn’t make any sense. But they may be using another social media platform, such as LinkedIn or Twitter, where similar advertising principles apply.
It’s also possible that your target audience are not on any social media, or don’t use it for buying decisions.
If your target audience are on social media, it’s definitely worth it. Facebook advertising is highly effective, and its Audience Insights tools (though unintuitive at times) is very thorough and incredibly useful.
Social media advertising tips
- Remember the importance of landing pages. Though you can connect an ad to your website or product page directly, it might be worth considering putting visitors through a landing page. Landing pages allow you to educating potential customers before they commit to buy. Simply sending them to a basic website or product page without any clear direction of what they need to do is a waste of money.
- Use striking imagery (but be careful with words) You’ll hear a lot about what to write in a Facebook ad, but equally as important are the images used in these ads. Visual content is far more influential than textual content, so choose your image carefully. (Also, don’t try to overload the image with overlaid text, Facebook sees this and will penalise your advert accordingly.)
So, there we have it, a basic guide to paid advertising in 2018. There are a lot of changes afoot, particularly with Facebook’s business pages, and Google’s new machine learning engine, but paid ads still are incredibly effective and cost-efficient solutions for online marketing. Use our tips to make the most of your budget and get those all-important conversions!