Back in the late 1990s, I used to tell website clients that if they place ads on their homepage it would drive people away. Internet users did not like ads and we web programmers often looked upon them with great disdain. Many still do.

But, in today’s world of smartphones, webpages available everywhere all the time, and the Internet has grown into one of the largest advertising platforms in history. For many businesses, it presents a great opportunity to get into a space that many of their competitors have not yet explored.

seo-trainWhen it comes to online advertising, one of the first objections I hear from business owners is that they don’t believe their customers are online, thus will never see the ads. Aside from the fact that everyone and their mother (and grandmother) seem to have a Facebook page nowadays, more and more research is showing that many consumers begin the shopping process online, whether they’re just researching products or actually purchasing via an online store. Couple that with the growing importance of having a LinkedIn profile for networking purposes, and we can safely conclude that not only are all business professionals online these days, but are utilizing it en masse.

Still, all of those platforms raise an important question: How do we get the message to them? I’ve found that one of the most consistent strategies is to utilize the Google Display Network. This is a huge network of thousands of websites that display ads. Here’s how it works.

On one hand, you have the business or person who operates the website. They use Google AdSense, a platform that populates a website with targeted ads. Web operators are very happy to have these ads on their websites, because they are paid for that real estate. They can also determine what type of ads display on their sites, ensuring their visitors see only relevant and engaging ads depending

AdWords is the other side of the coin. With AdWords, advertisers bid on placement of ads, which are seen by customers at the very moment that they are searching for certain keywords on Google. The benefit is that advertisers only pay when a customer clicks their ad to either visit a website or otherwise contact the business. However, what an advertiser pays can vary.

As I said, ad placement on Google search results is prime real estate. So, ad clicks for one industry or keyword might be more expensive than others. For example, consider an insurance agent who sells renter’s insurance. As an ad agency, our goal is to avoid over-bidding and paying too much for the ad. We take special care in selecting the right keywords and other triggers, and then bid on the low side in order to get the best ad placement for the least amount of money.

By continually tuning up the placements and bids, we cost-effectively get your ads noticed, which drives clicks to your website. At the same time, this helps build brand awareness, bringing potential customers to your website. In the example of the insurance agent, ads may appear on Rent.com, local newspaper websites, and other websites that show homes for rent.

Another great feature of the display network is that it can be geo-targeted. So, if you service a particular set of zip codes, counties, states, or a particular radius from your main office, we can set those ads to show only to web users in those specified areas. This delivers your ad directly to your target market.

Back to the example of the insurance agent: If the target audience is renters in Canfield, Ohio, we can optimize the ads to focus on zip code 44406 targeting searches for keywords like “rentals,” “renters insurance,” etc. Then, someone who is physically sitting at a computer in Canfield and searching for a home to rent will see your banner ad, provided the amount you bid beats out any competing ads.

Anytime a web user sees your ad, that is called an ‘impression’. Each impression means you’ve had a unique set of targeted eyeballs on your logo and message. If they click your banner ad, you are charged the amount of the current bid price for that ad space, and you have acquired a new visit to your website or landing page.

There’s more to the story but this is where we leave off for today.

To be continued…

By Jim Komara and Jeremy Lydic