Four Online Media Mix Essentials

As the newest media vehicle on the block (and arguably the most notorious), Internet advertising has developed a somewhat strange standing. The media regards it as a source of scandal and grasps every opportunity to expose and villainize its flaws. Consumers view it as a battleground for the forces of good and evil, harboring a love/hate relationship with the medium. They furiously dodge pop-ups and spam while responding to advertising offering value and savings on products and services purchased online.

Advertisers, too, are victims of a struggle. Theirs is an internal one. On the one hand, they recognize the value of the reach and exposure the Web can provide. They know they have a responsibility to put it to the test. On the other hand, they fear the results a poorly executed Internet campaign could produce. Trepidation comes naturally where a new medium is concerned, particularly when that medium has been the target of obloquy in the past.

This reality puts a lot of pressure on media buyers to come up with optimal formulas for campaigns. Getting a client to commit to online advertising is one thing. Keeping him interested involves discovering just the right mix of placements, formats, and methods of online marketing to continually meet objectives.

One would think understanding the myriad of placements available to media buyers is the most difficult aspect of the job. In truth, understanding the relationship between placements, and employing them in a way that ensures all bases are covered, is much more challenging. To develop an absolute campaign, marketers must mix and match placements and achieve a perfect balance between buys that call users to action (generate banner clicks, site registrations, etc.) and those that increase brand awareness, brand recall, and purchase intent.

The optimal formula depends on individual campaign objectives, of course, but there are certain placements most online advertising campaigns should invariably include. Following is a breakdown of each advertising method and why each is essential to your client’s campaign.

PPC Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising (also called pay-per-search or pay-for-performance) is one of the most popular methods of online marketing. Its popularity has grown exponentially over the years. PPC harnesses search engine marketing power in an inexpensive, uncomplicated manner. Instead of approaching Internet users with messages and offers unrelated to current online activities, PPC allows advertisers to get in front of searchers at the precise moment they’re searching for information about advertisers’ services. It’s not a visual placement, and it isn’t effective for promoting brand awareness or recall. But PPC will perform its socks off as far as driving qualified site traffic is concerned.

Portal Text Links

Also widely sold on a pay-for-performance basis, text link placements on portal sites are another reliable way to drive traffic to your client’s Web site or online marketing program. This placement’s advantage over PPC advertising is it appears on contextually relevant branded specialty portals. Advertisers can also display a logo. The disadvantage is although it can generate high CTR, it’s often sold on a CPM basis. Portal text links offer a combination of branding and consumer response that can enhance most any online campaign.

Rich Media

Numerous studies confirm rich media ad formats are among the most effective for improving brand awareness, ad recall, and purchase intent — three criteria essential to the majority of online ad campaigns and likely your client’s long-term success. Whether your weapon of choice is an animated GIF or a Flash banner, incorporating rich media into your client’s campaign is a great way to showcase the Web’s innovation and versatility. To top it off, these placements aren’t only good for branding alone. As far as driving traffic or user actions are concerned, rich media ads are proven to deliver high CTRs (a statistic not comprising just accidental clicks, as skeptics may have you think).

E-Mail Marketing

As I wrote last week, spam may threaten to reduce campaign success rates, but it’s way too early for media buyers to eschew this valuable marketing method. E-mail remains the most popular online activity. Over 93 percent of Internet users use it. E-mail newsletter sponsorships and PPC placement help hone in on this massive user group, enabling advertisers to greatly extend their audience reach. E-mail newsletters tend to feature very few ad placements, so advertisers can put to rest fears of being disregarded due to site clutter and other online distractions (pop-up ads, for example). This particular breed of email marketing completes a well-rounded and successful online advertising campaign.

Don’t miss ClickZ’s Weblog Business Strategies in Boston, June 9-10.

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