The world of advertising has changed dramatically over the last few decades. In years past, businesses would focus their advertising budgets on designing billboards, mailing flyers to local customers or placing ads in magazines. While those methods of advertising are still used, there is a tremendous emphasis on online advertising. Explore some of the many ways that businesses can advertise online and take a closer look at the costs and benefits of each option.
Types of Online Advertising
Social Media Ads
If your goal is to have an advertisement that is seen by a large audience, then social media ads are a natural fit. Currently, there are over 3 billion social media users around the world. That’s roughly 40 percent of the population, or more customers than your business could ever hope for.
Social media ads are so popular because they allow you to focus your advertisements on a niche market of ideal customers. To start, you can narrow down the audience by social network. If you’re attracting young people to a new bar, then a colorful photo ad on Instagram is a great choice. If you are advertising a service to business executives, then paying to be a part of LinkedIn ads is recommended. Within each of those advertising platforms, you can also narrow down the audience further by location, age, career or interests. Make sure that your ad copy also reflects your ideal prospective customer.
Whether you run a major corporation or a niche blog, social media ads can get eyes on your content. You can direct people to head to your social media profiles, or you can ask them to click a link and go directly to your website. Social media advertisements are also typically easy to place, and you’ll get back analytics detailing exactly who saw your ad at the end of the campaign.
One of the most common ways to advertise online is through pay-per-click advertising. Just like the name suggests, this is when businesses place an ad but only pay when a user physically clicks on the ad and is redirected to the new website. This can be a smart option for businesses because you don’t have to pay a penny if the ad is ineffective. If the ad is very effective and you get a lot of clicks, then the cost could be significant. If this happens, however, you’ll probably also have a jump in traffic, leads and sales to compensate.
The cost of a pay-per-click ad depends on what kind of ad you place, where you’re placing the ad and how competitive the industry is. If you work through pay-per-click affiliate programs, you might expect to pay a set amount no matter where the ad is placed. Keep in mind that certain keywords can be more expensive. The more competitive an industry, the more expensive your pay-per-click ad will likely be. If you’re on a set budget, be sure to cap your pay-per-click ad expenses. You don’t want an unexpectedly successful ad to bankrupt your business due to an abundance of link clicks.
Whenever a person types something into Google, or any other search engine, the results pop up on the SERP. The SERP, or search engine results page, is the list of best matches for the search request. At the top of almost every SERP, you’ll see ads. These ads are promoting products, services or websites that match the search term that was used. If you type “furniture stores nearby” into your search engine, the ads that pop up might be for some of the furniture companies in your area.
Those ads aren’t placed there randomly. Instead, businesses pay to have their advertisements appear on a SERP. Your advertisement might appear just like a search result, but it will have a little sign clarifying that it is a paid ad. You can also pay to have image ads to appear on a SERP. These advertisements can be an effective means of attracting potential customers. As always, ads will be most expensive if there is already a lot of competition.
Sponsor Blog Posts and Influencers
Sometimes, the best way to deliver an ad is through an online personality who has already built up an audience. If you sell running shoes, for example, you might connect with a blogger who writes about running marathons. This blogger would be considered an influencer. That blogger can talk about your products, review them and direct readers to your website. Keep in mind that this kind of a sponsorship always has to be disclosed. It is unethical to run a sponsored blog post or social media post without full disclosure.
If you connect with a major social media personality with millions of followers, then paying for this kind of advertising can be incredibly expensive. However, you don’t need to start at the highest end of the spectrum. There are many micro-influencers who will happily talk about your products or services for a minor fee or even free product. This is a grassroots approach to online advertising that works well, especially for smaller or newer businesses.
If you have an email marketing list, you should already be utilizing it to contact past, current and prospective clients on a regular basis. In addition, you can advertise to be a part of a larger company’s newsletter. Many major businesses, as well as news organizations, send out daily or weekly emails to their clients. Some send out comprehensive newsletters, and ads are a natural fit for this content. If your business complements the material, and the email audience is your target audience, then email advertisements might be an avenue worth exploring.
Pay for Online Advertorials
The word advertorial is a portmanteau of two words: advertising and editorial. An advertorial combines both elements into what is considered native advertising. This can be a gray area for many people. While it is legal, its use is somewhat frowned upon. However, there is no denying that it is both widespread and effective. You’ll find native advertising in newspapers, online journals, magazines and more.
You might write ad copy for your business that looks like a newspaper article. Then, you can pay to have it appear in an online journal between two other legitimate journalistic pieces. Your ad copy will clearly state that it is an advertorial, but plenty of readers will still take a look. In today’s world, many people skip over advertisements. There are ad blockers to remove unsightly ads, and even television ads get skipped thanks to TiVo, Netflix and Hulu. Native advertising is a way to encourage people to see and recognize your content without it immediately being identified as an ad.
Another means of online advertising is placing banner ads. These are large advertisements that occupy prime real estate on a website. You’ll find banner ads across the top of a major newspaper website and at the top of a niche blog. Where you choose to place your banner ad depends on your budget and the desired audience.
Unlike a pay-per-click ad, you will typically pay a set price for a banner ad. Whether a dozen people click through or a thousand people click through, the price remains the same. While banner ads can and do drive traffic to your website, they can also boost brand recognition. If your company places a banner ad on a blog that is read by your desired audience, they will start to have positive associations with your company. Banner ads align you with specific websites, causes and news sources, and it can help define your image and your clientele. Keep in mind that banner ads can be expensive, especially if you’re hoping for a large audience.
Get Familiar with Google AdSense
If you have a website, one of the best ways to bring in revenue is through advertising programs. Google AdSense is by far the biggest ad network on the internet, and it can be used by virtually anyone who has a blog or a website. You don’t need to have millions of readers to turn a profit, and even a very niche blog can earn revenue. Keep reading to see how Google’s advertising program works and learn how your website can start earning you money.
Choose From a Wide Range of Ad Types
If you opt to become a part of Google’s pay-per-click affiliate programs, then you’ll also be able to choose from a wide range of possible ad types. If you don’t like the look of video ads, you can opt out of them completely. If you’re worried that text-only ads won’t add to the visual appeal of your website, you can skip them. The choice is yours, giving you creative control over the types of ads used.
The most common types of ads are text ads, which include a clickable link, and display ads, which include a photo or graphic. Ads can come in a range of shapes, such as square ads, rectangular ads, vertical skyscraper ads and portrait ads. Newer developments are video ads and HTML ads, both of which can prove to be very lucrative for website owners.
Decide Where You Want to Place Ads
The next step is deciding where you want the ads to go on your site. Once again, this gives you creative control over your website. You can earn money from pay-per-click affiliate programs and still ensure that your blog or website looks exactly how you want it to. Banner ads that stretch across the top of your page will typically bring in the most money. This is because they are large, they are eye-catching and they are often the first thing that a person sees when they load the page.
In addition to a banner, or instead of, you can also have ads that run along the sidebar of your website. Although these are less impactful, they are also less intrusive to the visitor. If you want to minimize the appearance of ads but you still want to bring in some revenue, then sidebar ads are ideal. You can also add in ads between paragraphs or sections within the written content. The trade-off for being slightly more intrusive is that more people tend to see and click on these ads, increasing your revenue as a result.
Advertisers Bid for Your Ad Space
One of the most interesting things about AdSense is how the price per ad or per click is determined. If you set your own prices, one of two things can happen. First, you might undercut your prices and bring in less money than you should be making. Second, you might overcharge for ads, and then you won’t have any advertisers at all. Through Google’s affiliate advertising programs, advertisers bid to place ads on your site. Based on your content, your keywords and your readership numbers, advertisers know how much they want to spend. You’ll find out in real time exactly how much each ad is worth to various advertisers, and the highest bid wins your ad space.
You Get Paid Per Click
One of the benefits of participating in an advertising program is convenience. Rather than needing to bill individual clients for their advertising space each month, or following up repeatedly for payment, you’ll get paid once a month through the advertising program. Typically, participants need to meet a minimum threshold before they can get paid. Once that amount is met, payments come through methods like electronic bank transfer, Western Union transfer or check. Keep in mind that this is a legitimate source of income, so you’ll need to provide your tax information as necessary. Any income you make has to be reported to the IRS.
Focus on Finding Your Niche
If you’re eager to make money from a website or a blog, you need to first choose the right topic. It’s recommend that most people choose an area or an industry that appeals to them. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing, or if you’re already an expert in the field, then you’ll have an easier job managing, creating and organizing the content. However, you might also be guided by the demand for niche areas. Explore why niche blogging is so lucrative and find out how you can benefit from it.
What Exactly Is a Niche Site?
A niche site is any website that is focused on a specific group of people. It means that the blog or website isn’t aiming for mass appeal. Instead, the content is geared toward a specific age group, geographic location or demographic. A general blog might be one that includes topics about healthy living, vacation planning and saving money. A niche blog, on the other hand, might be one that is focused on how to maintain a healthy diet if you’re a working mother. The potential audience of a niche website is naturally smaller because you’re limiting the appeal of the website to an intentionally narrow group of people.
Niches Let You Avoid Heavy Competition
One reason to focus on a niche website is that it can instantly reduce the amount of competition you face. This includes competition in search engine results pages and when it comes to advertising revenue. If you’re one of a handful of people talking about life insurance policies in Nebraska, then companies that sell life insurance in Nebraska will almost certainly want to advertise on your site. By broadening your subject, you invite an increased amount of competition.
As you build your website, it might help to start out with a broader subject and then narrow it down as you grow. This lets you determine what niche proves to be the most popular. If you commit to a very specific niche on day one, you might find that it isn’t broad enough. At that point, however, it can be tough to backtrack and start widening your content. It’s easier to narrow in than it is to spread out and cover new subjects after you’ve earned a reputation as a niche blogger within an industry. Think about the example of a healthy food blogger. It’s natural for a healthy food blogger to start concentrating on vegan recipes. It would be less natural, however, for that same blogger to start creating exercise content in addition to recipes. Readers might question the blogger’s credentials when it comes to expanding into a brand-new area without experience.
Choosing Lucrative Niches
If you’re starting your blog specifically to take advantage of pay-per-click advertising programs, then it makes sense to understand how much each niche is worth. Some industries can command exceptionally high ad prices while others are oversaturated markets with very low ad revenue potential. While some bloggers will choose their niche based on experience, geographic location or passion, you can also choose a niche based entirely on profit potential.
Insurance companies pay the highest price per relevant ad click, and some companies will pay as much as $50 per click. Companies offering personal loans, home mortgages and attorney services are next, paying as much as $47 per click. With those prices, you can make a living through a blog with relatively few readers. It takes just a few high-paying clicks per day to make it worthwhile. Other high-paying industries to consider for your niche website include advanced education, website hosting services, conference calls and financial trading.
Almost any website can participate in affiliate advertising programs like AdSense. To truly make the most of these programs, it makes sense to establish a niche blog for maximum income potential.