The Internet has opened up a myriad of possibilities to business owners and is quickly shaping the way advertisers communicate with their target audiences. Approximately 7,5 million South Africans use the Web monthly (with many returning on a daily basis) and business owners who have yet to advertise online are missing out on an effective – and exciting – way of reaching their customers.
What constitutes online advertising?
Because the Internet is a relatively young medium, it’s still developing and advertisers are constantly discovering new ways of connecting with customers. Online advertising is evolving as Internet users are settling into more easily defined media consumption patterns. However, several types of online advertising have already proven effective, including banner adverts, Pay Per Click advertising and tenant links (or sponsored links).
1. Banner advert
Banner adverts appear on websites and are typically positioned prominently at the top of web pages, along the side of websites or within the content itself. Business owners can choose between displaying standard banner ads, which remain static, and dynamic rich media banner ads, which can include videos, games, forms and almost any type of interactive functionality that one can imagine.
2. Pay Per Click adverts
These adverts appear in sections to the top and right of search engine results pages, as well as in the form of banners on various web pages. Because advertisers pay for the number of times an advert is clicked rather than for the number of times it appears, advertisers are only paying when an ad is effective. Furthermore, PPC is considered to be pull advertising because it targets consumers who are already searching for your product or company.
3. Tenant links
Also called sponsored links, tenant links generally appear on the right hand side of publishers’ websites. Because of their appearance and location, Internet users view these links as being endorsed by the publisher and attribute extra value to the website at the other end of the link.
Internet media consumers are called users for a reason
Internet users consume media in a vastly different way to traditional media consumers. When confronted with advertising platforms such as print, TV and radio, media consumers are expected to passively absorb information. By contrast, online advertising is positioned at the opposite end of the spectrum because it encourages interaction. In fact, Internet users expect to have control when confronted by advertisements on the Web. Therefore, dynamic adverts have generally proven to be far more successful than static ads.
Before publishing an online advert, it is essential to have a web page on which Internet users can land when clicking on the ad. The landing page should be relevant to the advertisement (rather than your business in general) because users expect to find what they are looking for with one click. It is also important that the page has your business’s contact details clearly displayed in order to give the user the option to get in touch with you if necessary. Hiring an agency for media planning and buying is by far the best way to connect with online publishers. Agencies have established relationships with publishers and can ensure that your advert is seen by your target audience. Furthermore, agencies are able to monitor and track adverts (including number of clicks and total impressions) and provide an easy-to-understand report detailing campaign success.
Your customers are already online
Many South African consumers already use the Web for email, social media and news, and with broadband prices falling, a greater number are expected to log onto the Internet in the future. This means that every type of business, no matter how large or small, can take advantage of online advertising. A common misconception is that small businesses don’t benefit from advertising online because many can’t afford e-commerce portals. However, with the rise of location-based online advertising, consumers searching online for particular types of businesses in specific areas can be directed to small, local businesses instead of multi-national corporations.