How to Decide the Best Ad Platform for Your Small Business
When you launch your advertising campaign the goal should always be to reach the widest audience for the least amount of money. However, it’s not as simple as just picking one platform that is “the best”. In truth, all social networks and ad networks work a little differently. For the savvy digital marketers out there, it’s all about knowing what venue best serves your product or service. But rather than going through trial and error and spending your money on display ads, we made a list of the pros and cons of the biggest advertising platforms to show you the types of ads that can best help your business.
Search Engine Advertisements
Search Ads can be a very effective tool for businesses both big and small. In theory, it will reach the widest audience of internet users. While there are many people who don’t use social networks like Facebook and Instagram, everyone has to use a search engine at some point. This makes advertising platforms like Google Ads a great way to reach a wide audience.
- Largest Audience: The biggest advantage to Google is that it is by far the most widely used search engine. It garners 70% of the search engine market share and is responsible for 85% of searches done through mobile apps.
- No Minimum to Spend: There is no minimum to how much you are required to spend on Google Adwords. This makes it an appealing way for small businesses to reach potential customers.
- Customizable: Google Adwords provides lots of targeting options for you to reach your target audience. Search options, display options, retargeting options and more help you get specific with your advertising
- Display Network: Even if web-surfers aren’t clicking your advertisements, they can still see your display ads. While this form of advertising is more passive, it’s a great way to reinforce your brand.
- Expensive Option: While Google will potentially expose you to the widest audience, it comes at a price. Google charges you by the click, so unless you’re getting those window shoppers to buy in, the larger audience doesn’t necessarily mean more money.
- Constant Upkeep: Google’s search algorithms are very complex and operate on an auction system. Every time someone searches something Google checks a variety of criteria including your related keywords and also the amount of money you’ve spent and the traffic you get. To make your Google ads particularly effective, it takes a lot of work to keep your ad relevant.
- More affordable: Bing might not garner the same market share as Google, but it does provide much more affordable advertising. This makes it a great option for smaller businesses, or businesses with a smaller advertising budget.
- Less Competition: This is a bit of a double-edged sword. Technically there is less competition showing ads through Bing. However, the reason for that is that there is less traffic.
- Higher Average Age of Users: Again, this is a situational advantage, but an interesting one to consider. The average age of Bing users is older than 35, specifically, most are between 55-64. Most are parents, and most importantly, they have more spending money than their younger counterparts on Google. If your product or service is for folks with a little more disposable income, you might be better off advertising through Bing.
- Smaller Audience: While this is an advantage in terms of your competition, ultimately on Bing your ads will see a smaller audience.
- Lower Click-Through-Rate: Studies have shown that Bing has about half of the CTR as Google does at 9.66%
Social Media Advertising Platforms
Advertising through social media advertising platforms can be the right move to make for smaller businesses or ones that are generally trying to reach a younger audience. Let’s explore the benefits and downfalls of some of the biggest names in social media advertising.
- Largest Social Media Platform: Facebook ads can be effective for the simple reason that they reach the widest audience. Nearly 80% of Americans (minors included) are on Facebook. If you’re looking for sheer numbers, you can’t beat Facebook for social advertising.
- Easy Targeting: It’s no secret that Facebook collects a lot of data on their users. This makes it particularly easy to effectively advertise to specific audiences. Few venues can give you the same type of specific targeting that Facebook allows for.
- Messy Layout: Facebook’s feed is centered around a user’s friends and their timelines. Advertisements don’t take a particularly prominent display when users are scrolling. If you advertise through Facebook, you definitely want to make sure it stands out.
- Low CTR: Low is a bit of an understatement. With an average of less than 1% CTR across all industries, it doesn’t get much lower.
- Uncertain Future: Unfortunately this con is very closely associated with the pro “Easy Advertising”. Many users are wary of the platform and it’s a very public collection of user’s data and consequently, we are seeing a decline in Facebook users. Additionally, the audience targeting options are often changing, which can make it difficult to manage the upkeep.
- Second Largest Social Media Platform: With 330 million users worldwide, the Twitter audience is certainly a strong contender for your advertising dollars.
- Creates Conversation: The nature of Twitter as a platform makes it a very interactive space. Users have conversations, create hashtags and mention people and businesses. You can easily become the topic of a conversation or start one yourself.
- Schedule Tweets: No matter how committed you are to your business, everyone needs downtime. When you’re off the clock, Twitter allows you to stay in touch with your audience by giving you the ability to schedule your Tweets in advance.
- Quick Moving Feed: Twitter moves extremely quickly. It’s part of that conversational aspect of the medium. Twitter users are talking, more or less in real-time, and sometimes even giving minute-to-minute updates. This means that your advertisements can quickly be lost into the internet aether.
- Limited Characters: Famously Twitter only allows for 140 character Tweets. This can make it difficult to advertise depending on how much information you need to convey to your audience. This is probably not one of the best advertising platforms for more complex services and products.
- High Engagement Rates: Instagram boasts the highest engagement rates of any social networking platform. 10 times higher than Facebook, 50 times higher than Pinterest and almost 90 times more engagement than Twitter.
- Visual Medium: If you are selling a product that is an effective eye-catcher, Instagram might be your best bet for advertising. Instagram consists primarily of photos with text taking a back seat. Artists, in particular, can very effectively utilize Instagram for self-promotion and advertising.
- Younger Audience: A staggering 90% of Instagram users are under 35. While there are plenty of adults using Instagram, the majority of its users are quite young, and because of that have less disposable income. If you are selling a higher-end product or service, it might be wiser to try to reach an older audience.
- Not External-Link friendly: Instagram does not allow users to provide links in their posts. Well, to be more accurate, you can provide a web address, but it will not be an actual link, and furthermore, Instagram doesn’t allow you to copy and paste from posts. You can attach links to your profile’s bio, however, which can be updated, but it’s another step your customers have to take, so they better be motivated.
Spend Your Advertising Dollars Wisely
Unfortunately, there’s no cut-and-dry way to say what the very best advertising platforms are. It depends on who your target audience is, how much you’re willing to spend, what you’re trying to sell, and so many other factors. Hopefully, this blog gives you a better idea of you can wisely spend your time, money, and resources to do the most effective advertising.
SEM/SM Advertising Manager
Chelsea at heartbrain dot marketing