The internet is a relatively recent invention (becoming popular in the last 20-30 years) but has surpassed many forms of well-established media for marketing purposes. Intergenerationally many people prefer to shop online for goods and services, for any number of reasons; product choice, lower prices than in store, and ease of reviews or comparisons. Online media is widely regarded as one of the fastest growing marketing platforms in the world, but using the web for sales is not an easy task. Market saturation is everywhere, and making your product or strive stand out from the crowd can be difficult even for the most established of businesses.
There are many different kinds of online marketing, from social media to mailing to promotions, but the focus of this article will be on online advertising in a more traditional sense.
The aim of online marketing is the same as all marketing; to maximise income while reducing costs. There are two main ways in which this excels over more traditional marketing methods; a wider audience can be easily reached and sold to, and costs are lower through lack of premises and decreased staff. We’ve all witnessed that shopping online is cheaper than in-store, with many offers available online-only. This is leading to many outlets moving their business online, as it is a natural progression in earning more money. However recently there has been a rise in online-only companies moving to traditional store-based sales, seen in the last few months with ‘Amazon Books’ opening stores across the US. This trend has not been around long enough for traditional market analysis, but it shows no sign of slowing down.
Ads are one of the key features of online marketing about which everyone is aware; banner ads on websites are commonplace, or even with promoted Google search results. Banner ads have come under-fire recently, with many of them using illicit methods to target a certain audience. One famous example of this is Facebook advertising; using space on their news feed to promote paid products. Now, this wouldnt normally be a problem, as many free-to-use services utilize at least some of their space for advertising, merely to keep them profitable. However in this example, there is a well-tested and documented aspect of Facebook which many do not agree with; using their voice-to-text technology to ‘listen’ to your conversations and target their adverts accordingly. It is illegal for an app to listen to your general conversations without permission, but Facebook gets around this by converting your voice into text and recording that instead. Though fervently denied by Facebook executives, this is a well-tested and documented process, backup up by many case reports and studies. This is the kind of online advertising which GDPR attempts to ban in May of next year.
Banner ads are a different thing, and most businesses utilise these services in one way or another. Take a technology blog for example; an article will be framed by paid advertisements which the target audience is likely to be interested in, such as services like Dropbox or Norton. This kind of target based advertising is widely accepted as being profitable, and is a wise investment if your company needs a boost to sales of a certain product. This is known as affiliate marketing; using a commonly shared target audience to advertise a product or service.
Ads online are usually designed in a way which is easy to monitor success, making it a great way of obtaining metrics on site activity. This allows easy and convenient altering of marketing methods as and when needed, as opposed to traditional print media where you can never be sure where an enquiry came from. Online marketing is the future of advertising, and is simple to boot.