Between video ads and do-it-yourself placements, the outlook for marketing in this market is looking bright.
Although most everyone is affected by our economy in some way, you would imagine that the small business market would be among the worst hit. You might even assume they'd be the first to slash ad spending. But as promoting their businesses is critical to their success, they continue to spend, seeking out interesting and cost-effective online advertising opportunities in the process.
In its "Small Business Marketing Outlook" report released earlier this year, strategic advertising and marketing research company Ad-ology Research found that 69 percent of small business advertisers anticipated that their spending on online advertising for 2009 would be equal to or greater than last year. Among their criteria for selecting advertising opportunities are rates, proximity of the ad vehicle to business prospects, and repeating what they have done in the past. This all bodes well for online publishers, particularly the revealing finding that 44 percent of small business owners believe online advertising is effective -- a number considerably higher than the rank they gave direct mail (32 percent), yellow pages (28 percent), and newspapers (27 percent).
Recent trends in small business marketing include video, custom content creation, and social networking, which continues to benefit from the momentum generated by consumer and media buzz. Services like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook all help small businesses to connect with local customers, disseminate product news and information, generate site traffic, promote sales and special offers, and even hire new employees.
Those interested in taking a more formalized approach to advertising can look to sites like Small Business Television, an online television network devoted entirely to small business news and information. SBTV.com averages 6.5 million monthly page views and 700,000 unique monthly visitors who typically spend more than 30 minutes with the site during any one visit.
SBTV's content model ensures that video advertising opportunities abound. Advertisers can count themselves among such companies as AT&T, FedEx, and Dell when they tap SBTV's video resources to connect with potential consumers.
Placements include pre-roll video ads and companion banners in the Daily News -- the first segment to play when a user visits the site -- as well as program sponsorships within the network. Video ads can also be placed in specific content channels, such as Franchising, Green Business, Reinventing Your Career, Wellness in the Workplace, and Women.
Custom content creation comes in the form of new programs, which are developed on a bi-monthly or monthly basis. These shows are accompanied by a variety of advertising options as well as promotional opportunities such as guest appearances, each of which can be directly negotiated with SBTV's sales staff.
Small business owners can also license SBTV content for use in their own sites and marketing materials, and media buys are also available on sbRadio, the network's Internet radio site.
Appealing to the do-it-yourself sensibility of small business owners and entrepreneurs are services like AdReady. This self-serve online advertising platform allows users to create their display ads based on a selection of templates, define and target their desired audience, make their media buys, and manage their campaigns through AdReady's user-friendly suite.
Although business categories are somewhat limited, they include the most popular small business markets like automotive, consumer goods, real estate, and travel. The service offers everything an advertiser might need when planning and buying a campaign independently, including the average CTR (define) for each banner template and the ability to advertise with such publishers and ad networks as Google, WhitePages.com, and Right Media.
New users will benefit from its enhanced software, which was released in April, as well as recent partnerships between AdReady and major publishers. These have facilitated self-service display advertising on such prestigious sites as NYTimes.com, Yahoo, and MSNBC.
With so many practical online advertising solutions at their disposal, it's no wonder that small business owners weren't willing to decrease their ad spending this year. Between video ads and do-it-yourself placements, the outlook for marketing in this market is looking bright.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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