Online advertising is something that can have big rewards for small-to-medium-sized businesses. There’s a lot to look at when you start searching for ways to advertise, but that just makes it easier to tailor campaigns to a particular business.
Google makes it easy for companies to get started in online advertising with their AdWords service, where advertisers can purchase pay-per-click ads that will show up as “sponsored links” on the page of search results. The clickthrough rate for the third ad down the page is 2.5%, and that number rises to 5% for the second one and 8% for the first ad on the page. That means thousands of possible new customers for your business with hardly any work on your part.
However, there are options beyond Google. In particular, if you have defined your objectives and your target audience, you should be able to find sites where your ads will have the most success. This is generally known as placement-targeted or site-targeted advertising. Google also offers this service, where it will place your ads on what it deems to be a relevant site. You can also buy and sell ads at various online marketplaces like the aptly named BuySellAds.com or directly with the owner of a site.
The possibilities for online advertising have inspired many interesting experiments in recent years, such as the Million Dollar Homepage. English student Alex Tew sold 10×10 blocks of pixels for $1 per pixel (although the site was so successful that he auctioned off the final 1000 pixels for $38,100 on eBay). The sales were intended to pay for Tew’s business degree.
Whatever routes you choose to follow in online advertising, the most important detail is to know your audience, and to know what they are searching for. Whether you concentrate on keywords or on specific sites, it’s easy to see how these online campaigns can have huge payoffs for your business in real life.