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Top 10 New Online Advertising Client Questions

  |  August 10, 2010   |  Comments

New to online advertising? Get your most common and important questions answered.

In May, eMarketer predicted that 2010 will see 10.8 percent growth in online advertising spend and steady growth through 2014. That means either the same advertisers are spending more or new advertisers are coming online for the first time (or both). When we deal with first-time advertisers, their questions are uncannily similar. Maybe this list can help advertisers and agencies alike.

1. How much does it cost?

Ah, the cost question. Reminding clients that the sky’s the limit when it comes to advertising, I usually ask back, “How much do you have, what are you trying to accomplish, and in what period of time?” Then we get into a deeper discussion about publisher minimum buy-ins and various price structures…but that inevitably leads to many of the other questions on this list.

2. How quickly can we get a campaign up and running?

In other words, what’s the lead time? What advertisers should really be asking is, “What are all the components that go into launching an ad campaign?” because it’s these factors that in large part determine how quickly a campaign can go live. Components of an ad campaign include:

  • Having an objective (this might sound obvious, but oftentimes new advertisers don’t have this yet well-defined)
  • A concept (and an offer?)
  • Budget
  • Time of year/seasonality
  • Creative assets (ads in various sizes and formats, landing pages/microsites, video/audio, etc.)
  • Tracking mechanisms
  • Approval processes

3. What’s a “conversion”?

Conversion is a term that can get misused or misinterpreted if all parties do not clarify their own perception. Usually conversion means that some sort of desired action took, but using a generic definition could lead to data skewing. There can be multiple conversions from a single visitor so better to specify, segregate, and track these “conversions” uniquely or differentiate “actions” from conversions.

4. What does all this CPM, CPC, CPA, CPL, PPC stuff mean anyway?

Because it’s so different from traditional advertising, online media can be confusing to traditional advertisers, but particularly when it comes to pricing structures. I usually give a brief tutorial.

5. What kinds of banners do we need?

Unfortunately, the word “banner” has become a catch-all phrase representing any or all types of online ads. What the advertiser’s really trying to understand is the kind of ad creative needed for the plan, at which point I usually explain the options among all of the ad offerings out there (display, sponsorships, contextual, video, social, advertorial, e-mail, mobile, white papers, lead gen, etc.).

6. Do these different ad types perform differently?

The short answer is yes, definitely, which is why we want to develop a diversified media plan, particularly when the campaign objective focuses on some kind of direct response outcome.

7. What is a landing page and why do we need it?

The landing page - the page to which visitors will arrive upon clicking an ad - at first might seem superfluous to new advertisers. They have a website, after all - why can’t we just direct traffic to their home page? Most websites, however, were not designed specifically with an advertising campaign objective in mind, so it’s not the ideal place to deliver the ad message or generate the desired outcome from the visitor. The clarity of that process is accomplished through a landing page.

8. How do you track the campaign once it's launched?

Even new advertisers know that digital campaigns can be tracked more granularly than almost any other form of advertising; they’re just not sure how it works. A quick explanation of coded URLs and tracking tags does the trick.

9. If we spend all this money, what assurances do we have that this campaign’s going to work?

Seriously? Can someone please show me stats that prove that every single ad campaign works every single time? While we cannot “guarantee” any campaign is going to work, we can mitigate risk a number of ways like only buying performance-based advertising or running test campaigns or negotiating outclauses. With some early-stage planning, we can also do a pretty good job of estimating traffic, actions, and conversions so at least the client would know what to expect before getting started.

10. Why do we have to pay you to do media planning? Don’t you just stick up our ads somewhere, or can’t we tell you where we want our ads to appear and you buy them?

If you know what you’re doing, why are you even talking to us in the first place? Good media planning requires a lot of strategy, research, and analysis, particularly if you’re trying to meet some kind of specific objective. Honestly, the media buying portion is probably the easiest part of the entire process. Setting up and managing the campaign are also far more complicated. If you want an expertly-run campaign, hire experts.

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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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