For something as accessible for marketers as digital advertising, it’s often passed over when marketing budgets are being allocated. Digital may be intimidating for numerous reasons, but it’s worth understanding its benefits and the important role it should play in a marketing budget.
First up, let’s define “digital.” In the marketing world, we talk a lot about traditional vs. digital advertising. Traditional advertising has been used for generations while digital advertising is much newer. According to Array Digital, the two types of advertising split at the advent of the internet. To put it simply, traditional advertising is found in the real world — newspaper ads, billboards, mailers, etc. Digital advertising exists in the digital world — websites, social media, video streaming services, etc.
Some examples of digital ads include:
- Display ads: these are static or animated ads that appear on the top or sides of websites
- Social media ads: these show up on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram alongside other posts on users’ feeds
- Video ads: these are the ads that play before, during, or after videos on YouTube and on sites across the internet
- Search engine marketing: these appear in results pages on search engine sites like Google
Traditional advertising is valuable and we recommend it to our clients when it fits their objectives and target(s), and there are countless reasons why digital may also be a smart choice for your business.
Digital is Relevant
As soon as the internet (and mobile devices) worked its way into every aspect of our modern lives, advertising followed suit. After all, the best marketing reaches audiences where they are, and we assure you, they are on the internet.
American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media, according to Nielsen. Three hours and 48 minutes of that time is specifically spent on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Of that nearly four hours per day, 62% is spent browsing the web or using apps on smartphones.
As a result, digital advertising has become a vital piece of today’s marketing landscape. At The DeBerry Group we counsel our clients that it’s no longer sufficient to just have a digital aspect to your marketing plan. Instead, campaigns that hope to reach audiences where they truly are should consider a digital-first perspective.
Proof of this shift is found in the numbers. Each year, AdAge documents the advertising spend of the top 200 national advertisers. In 2017, the internet passed TV as the biggest U.S. advertising medium. In the year 2000, internet advertising accounted for just 3.8% of the advertising budgets for top advertisers in the US. Presently in 2019, it accounts for 44.7% of their budgets. As this shift has occurred, TV, newspaper, magazine, and radio all witnessed decreased allocation within these same advertising budgets.
Business executives put their ad dollars where they see results. In 2016, Clorox Co. put 41% of its working media budget into digital, which was up from 34% the year before. Similarly, Home Depot started spending more on digital than traditional in the past few years, and according to its CMO, their return on investment has nearly doubled.
Digital is Budget-Friendly
Most businesses are not working with the same kind of budgets as national brands, and digital has become a great equalizer regardless of budget size. A dollar spent on digital advertising can go much farther than a dollar spent on traditional advertising.
For example, according to AdAge the average cost for 30 seconds of commercial time in prime time broadcast national TV was $112,000 in 2014 and a single front-page color ad on The New York Times cost $50,000. On the flip side, the cost for a thousand impressions (CPM) for a sponsored post on Instagram can run as low as $20 and the median CPM for a Google display ad is $2.40.
Digital is Precise
That leads us to audience targeting: the most significant difference between digital and traditional advertising. Let’s say it’s 1995 and you sell running shoes. If you have a large enough budget, you could run a print ad in a national magazine like Men’s Health. You’d reach a broad audience of presumably males who care about health. However, you are unable to guarantee that the reader is a runner, that he’s looking for new shoes, or that he has the income level to afford your product.
With digital advertising, you can target your ideal customer because he’s identified himself as male on Facebook, follows running accounts on Instagram, has recently been searching for shoes on Amazon and across the internet, and has provided his job title and company on LinkedIn. Your target has exhibited interest, need and potential buying power.
Digital ads are relevant to the audiences they’re appearing in front of, and are therefore more likely to garner desired engagement. Targeted digital ads let you cut through the clutter by reaching your audience in a precise way that starts a two-way conversation, as opposed to making a sizable ad buy to reach a broad audience that may or may not include your ideal customers.
Digital is Nimble and Trackable
Let’s go back to 1995 and you’ve got that running shoe ad in Men’s Health. You had to submit it pretty early to make it into print, and then it’s going to be in the current issue for a whole month, then out in the world forever. How can we be certain if that ad motivated a customer to purchase a pair of shoes? It can be difficult to track return on investment to traditional advertising without the use of some kind of tracking mechanism like a coupon or a phone number.
The staying power of traditional advertising can be a valid approach for evergreen branding, but what happens if you need to change the price of your shoe? In today’s digital world, advertising isn’t about setting it and forgetting it; digital advertising can respond to real-time needs for edits or changes. If the ad isn’t performing as well as you’d hoped (which you’re able to track with tools provided by the ad network platforms), you can pivot and try a new image, new copy, or even revise the offer. Real-time oversight is one of the major advantages of running digital ads. You know almost instantly if your campaign is resonating and people are engaging, conversing and converting.