Here’s How Small Businesses Can Stand Out with Digital Advertising

Here’s How Small Businesses Can Stand Out with Digital Advertising

Whenever I suggest banner ads as a solid tactic for building a strong brand and generating business, there are always one or two naysayers who respond:

  • “Banner ads are dead! No one looks at them anymore.”
  • “Ugh, banner ads are annoying. I would never use them for my business.”

And I don’t blame the knee-jerk response. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You click on a link and suddenly, pop-up ads with impossible-to-locate ‘X’s’ take over your screen. A video ad starts autoplaying in the background, blaring obnoxious music or an overly caffeinated spokesperson’s voice through your speakers. The bombardment is too much for your device, which grinds to a halt, forcing you to restart.

We’ve all been there. So, it’s no wonder that the mere mention of banner ads can silence a room.

But the truth is, banner ads aren’t the problem. Bad banner ads are.

The case for growing your business with banner ads

Done right, banners ads are a powerful tool in every business’s marketing arsenal. Consider the following benefits:

  • Reach your audience anywhere, anytime

As a business owner, do you know what your most valuable asset is?

It’s your target audience’s attention.

Consumer attention is more divided than ever these days. According to a report from eMarketer, US adults now spend a whopping 12+ hours a day consuming media. While some of those hours can be chalked up to multi-tasking (i.e. interacting with multiple devices), the fact remains that the competition for attention is fierce.

Banner ads are the perfect way to quickly, easily and cost effectively reach your audience where they’re spending their time: across a variety of screens, devices and platforms. The more touch points you create, the more likely you are to connect with them, building brand awareness and engagement in the process.

  • Cost efficiency meets ROI

The power of digital advertising was reflected in a report put out by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

  • Digital ad revenue jumped almost 22% to $72.5 billion for the 2016 calendar year, an impressive leap from the reported $59.6 billion spend of 2015.
  • Mobile now accounts for over 50% of internet advertising revenue.
  • 2016 was the first year that digital ad spend surpassed TV ad spend.

Unlike traditional forms of advertising, internet advertising enables you to reach thousands (or millions) of people, 24/7, whether you have a robust or modest budget. Advanced tracking tools and metrics provide a granular view of ad performance, so you can make the most of your investment.

Case in point: according to data from Nielsen Catalina Solutions, consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands can see a return of almost three dollars in incremental sales for every dollar spent in online advertising that’s been delivered based on purchase-based information.

  • Drive engagement with personalized advertising experiences

Say goodbye to one-size-fits-all ads.

Part of the power of banner ads is the ability to personalize the experience. Dynamic ad technology and tracking pixels enable you to deliver ads that tailor ad messaging and imagery to your viewer’s location, weather or even browsing behavior. Rich media technology is the foundation of high-impact ad experiences like gamification, animation and interactive elements like quizzes, surveys and beyond.

Want to target previous site visitors and drive them back to your site to finish what they started? Dynamic remarketing understands the difference between a window-shopper and an abandoned cart, and it serves up a personalized ad accordingly.

Techniques to build digital ads that outshine the competition

At their core, good banner ads are audience-centric. That’s why I recommend starting every ad campaign brainstorm session with a question:

How do we make this interesting and useful to our audience?

Answering that question ensures your campaign is relevant to your audience. Once you have your answer, use these three fundamentals to craft high-impact ads that stand out from the competition.

  • Always opt for non-intrusive ad formats
    • Google is poised to roll out an Chrome update that will block ads deemed unacceptable by the Coalition for Better Ads. The ‘Do Not Use’ list targets intrusive, disruptive ad experiences. Eliminating these types of ads from the internet landscape ensures a better browsing experience for users.
    • Non-intrusive ad formats give your messaging a chance to complement the content your audience is viewing, instead of competing with it.
  • Use clear messaging and design
    • Think of banner ads like freeway billboards: you only have a few seconds to snag your audience’s attention. Avoid potentially confusing one-liners and never sacrifice clarity for cleverness.
    • Always use high-resolution images. Blurry imagery looks unprofessional and can damage your credibility.
  • Personalize whenever possible
    • When building your ads, think beyond the ad. Is the target destination relevant to the ad content and your audience? Customizing your ads to the target platform – and ideally, target content – will make the most of your display advertising budget by putting your ads in front of viewers who are more likely to connect with your messaging.
    • Consider incorporating dynamic ads into your next campaign. These smart ads tailor ad imagery and messaging to your viewer’s behavior and preferences.

Digital advertising is here to stay. As the number of devices and content channels continue to grow, the businesses that will thrive are those that continue – or start – investing in a wide range of banner ads to engage, connect with and convert prospects into customers.

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