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When online advertising came out at the dawn of the Internet age, it was an exciting and confusing time. Business owners and marketing executives knew digital technology provided great opportunity to reach customers online, but they needed to figure out on which web sites to advertise.

They would look at statistics like site traffic and demographics and make the best educated decision they could. This resulted in a tremendous amount of wasted advertising dollars, since just because a site had a ton of traffic, it didn’t mean those visitors had any plan to buy your services.

Then Google changed the entire advertising landscape with its text ads that it sold on a “Pay Per Click” basis. You can pick what keywords you want to show up for, and only pay when they’re clicked on. Great, right?

Many businesses still think so, as fierce competition has more than doubled the average cost per click over the past 10 years. Many clicks cost between $5 and $100/click, and at those prices, plus any professional service fees you’re paying on top of that, it’s getting harder to see a return on that investment.

The other problem with Google is that you can’t really use it to brand your business. There’s only one logo allowed on the page, and it belongs to Google.

Businesses continued to buy display advertising, but the targeting started to get better. With demographic targeting, you could buy a group of users that belonged to a certain demographic (males ages 18 – 34 who make at least $60K/year). An improvement over past techniques, but still wasted a ton of impressions.

If your store sells video games, you might want to target men ages 18-34, but market research shows that only 31% of mobile searchers for video games belong to that demographic. If you bought that program you’d bemissing out on 69% of potential customers. Another study by Kantar/Millward Brown Digital showed that marketers who try to reach their audience solely on demographics risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers.

While many businesses have learned the hard way that demographic targeting is ineffective, too many are still buying audience targeting ads (i.e., “Auto purchase intenders”). While this targeting is an improvement over past methods, it still delivers a ton of wasted impressions.

For example inside the “auto purchase intenders” group, many of the users already bought their car a month ago, or perhaps they were actually shopping for a Ford F-150, and have no intention of buying a Toyota Camry.

Maybe you’re a casino in Vegas and you buy “vacation intenders.” This broad audience would include those planning trips to Disney or European vacations. “Honey – let’s skip Paris and go to Vegas!” – Not likely! This is where digital display targeting was 5-10 years ago, and many businesses still buy it this way.

What many businesses are turning to now, takes the best of digital display ads and combines the keyword targeting of Google’s program.

Today’s targeted display, will show your digital banner only to people who are searching or reading about your type of product or service. What’s more is that today’s targeted display will “re-target” or follow these users around the Internet to make sure they notice the ad.

That’s right, it no longer matters what site the user goes to anymore. This frees advertisers from the old model where site traffic and demographics matter.

Here’s a real life example. If I’m shopping for a new Toyota Highlander, and happen to also like reading about the new iPhone on technology blogs, my local Toyota dealership can follow me with a Highlander ad on those technology blogs, mere seconds after I was reading about the vehicle on various car sites.

Now, it’s about targeting the user – not the site or a group of “intenders.” Who cares if the ad doesn’t appear on a car related site? The site isn’t going to buy the car, but that user might, so let’s market to the individual user quickly while they’re still in the buying funnel, wherever they go on the Internet.

Targeted display doesn’t necessarily replace Google, but it sure does complement it. Businesses can expect up to a 40% increase in branded search after just a couple months of running targeted display ads.

Simply put, your customers see your ad, then go to Google, search for you by name, and visit your website.

What’s great about branded search is that typically the user won’t get distracted by a complete list of all your competitors when they do this. Your website should appear organically in first position. If it doesn’t for some reason – let us know.

Remember, the average user only spends 2 minutes/day on Google, because the whole point of that site is to help you find what you’re looking for ASAP. Once you leave Google, that’s where you spend hours/day, consuming content.

If your current online marketing strategy doesn’t account for where people spend over 90% of their time online, it may be time to re-balance your marketing mix and take advantage of today’s technology.

Dominant Dog Digital uses the industry’s leading targeted display advertising platform. Your ads will be designed by a talented team of designers and managed by experienced campaign experts who will work to optimize the results of your program. Contact Dominant Digital today so we can learn more about your specific needs.