A Click Away

The growth of digital marketing over the past few years has given rise to many new ways for advertisers to reach their audiences. One of the more popular ways is Search Engine Marketing or SEM. This is a form of paid online advertising that companies use to drive potential buyers and donors to their websites.  There are two main forms of SEM:  Pay Per Click (e.g. Google AdWords) and Banner Advertising. Previously, we gave textbook definitions to these two terms, but now we’d like to provide simple examples of how these tools work.

Pay Per Click (PPC) …
… is based on a relevant word or phrase.  For example, an international basketball camp might select “basketball training NYC” if it wanted to recruit NYC candidates for training.  (For your future PPC endeavors, please note that this search phrase is between two and four words, with each word having a specific relevancy.)  The basketball camp also has a wide range of websites on which to advertise via PPC– from the general Yahoo search engine to the specific www.BigEast.org website (for college athletes typically based in the northeast).  With the PPC model, the basketball camp bids against other competitors on this preferred phrase by setting a maximum Cost Per Click (CPC) — sometimes the advertiser can even cap the amount it wants to spend.  Then, depending on the CPC and the volume of click-throughs, the camp’s ad will be given a priority on that host website, whenever someone searches for “basketball training NYC” or a similar phrase. Remember that the advertising organization pays for every click, so the word or phrase must not be misleading, otherwise the organization will be wasting its money on irrelevant click-throughs.  Also, note that the host websites, to honor the contracts with their advertisers, are constantly monitoring their web traffic to make sure that there is no excessive unauthorized clicking by competitors or bots, unfairly costing the advertiser.  (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, bots, it is a word play on “robots”, which describes software programs that crawl throughout the internet – sometimes they crawl and search, sometimes they crawl and spam, etc).

Banner Advertising
… is a static (picture or image) or dynamic (flash or animation) ad that is placed on a website for a certain amount of time.  Sometimes the ad is displayed 100% of the time, or other options include ad rotations with non-competitive advertisers.  The cost of banner ads are usually based on:

  • Advertising period
  • Ad size
  • Ad location on the website
  • Placement frequency
  • Brand value of the host site,
    based on traffic volume/number of users
  • Number of partner sites (e.g. CitySearch partners with Bing, UrbanSpoon, YellowPages, etc.)

Similar to the PPC model, advertisers get the maximum value when their ads are placed on websites with relevant users.  For example, an accounting/auditing consulting firm, such as KPMG, would get great value from a header banner ad on CFO.com, which targets senior executive readers who make financial decisions for their companies.

Of course, once a company gets someone to their website, then it’s important to get that viewer to DO SOMETHING.  That means you need a CALL-TO-ACTION and that your conversion rate (the number of people that respond to your call to action) is high, and that your marketing team is constantly monitoring and adjusting your website to get your conversion rate even higher.  You can look forward to learning more about these CALL-TO-ACTIONS in a future Ani Marketing Service blog.

SEM is a great way to get a big bang for your buck.  And, if you’re interested in other types of big bangs, you should check out Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History in Time” (http://www.hawking.org.uk/).  It’s definitely intense, but worth the payout!

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