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Prepping Online Advertising Newbies

  |  April 12, 2005   |  Comments

Sure, it's a process. But the more we educate and prepare advertisers upfront, the more we minimize tension, missed deadlines, and undue expectations.

Online advertising is experiencing a resurgence. Though I'm grateful when new business comes my way, more than ever I feel like I'm on a carousel ride, breaking in advertisers who never advertised online before, only to start anew with the next client.

It's an education process almost every time. We find, however, the more we educate and prepare a new advertiser upfront, the more we at least minimize tension, missed deadlines, and undue expectations as campaigns get underway.

Tutoring goes something like this.

Define Objectives

Seventy-five percent of all new advertisers who come to us have defined very little when it comes to campaign objectives. To many, the Web is a new advertising vehicle they feel they ought to try, particularly as everyone else seems to be. A slightly more refined response is, "We want to increase hits to our site." Far too many new advertisers have no defined budget. If they do, it's unrealistic for what they hope to achieve.

Understand Metrics

Even if new advertisers have more concrete objectives, such as increasing online sales by 20 percent, plenty don't have any handle on their site and sales metrics. So, they can't fully realize their objectives. We end up defining Web metrics lingo for them, teach them about unique visitors versus hits, conversion rates, max CPCs (define) and cost per actions (CPAs), return on investment (ROI), advertising cost to sales generated (A:S), and plenty of other terms and abbreviations unique to our trade.

Finalize Creative and the Media Plan

Typically, advertisers come to us believing they want help with either one or the other. If they've already got the creative's basis, such as a concept for an offer, they think they just want a media plan. If they want to see where they can reach their audience and let the placements determine creative, it's plan first, creative second.

It's never that simple. If the creative is based on an offline campaign, will it translate well to the Web, or must it be tweaked or reworked altogether? Can the message be conveyed within the confines of the online advertising specs? Where will the pre-fab creative take the visitor?

Create a Landing Page

Even if the client understands he must drive traffic somewhere, landing page concept and planning haven't gone far. If they have, the page typically isn't integrated well into the preconceived ad creative or well executed from the visitor conversion perspective. If it's built internally, just getting a well-constructed landing page done in time for a campaign launch can be a major hurdle.

Implement Ad Tracking

If the advertisers didn't get landing pages, we're in for some work when it comes to implementing ad-tracking pixels on their sites. Explaining the purpose of these pixels is relatively easy in the grand scheme of things. Getting them executed correctly can be a nightmare.

Approve the Plan

We require sign off on media plans before we move on them. This step alone can hold up a campaign for a week or longer. If there are tight deadlines, this delay can create big problems. We let advertisers know this up front.

Sign the IO

The insertion order (IO) isn't as bad as some other issues. Most advertisers realize they're going to need to sign something authorizing the ad buy. Payment terms can be a sticking point, though, so we discuss them at the outset, not when we sign the IO.

Approve and Traffic Creative

If time is a concern, trafficking ad creative is another potential deadline obstacle. Ad creative must get to the publisher several days before a campaign goes live, whether we're waiting on in-house creative or client approval on creative we produced.

Optimize the Campaign

Another Greek term to newcomers; we explain what "campaign optimization" means. We've learned going beyond that, except to the very savvy few, is useless. Best we just do our thing and make a campaign work.

Are your experiences similar to mine? If so, I'd love to hear about them.

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Hollis Thomases

A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."

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