June 09, 2009

New Chart: Every Ad Has A Purpose—A Look At Strategy vs. Online Ad Tactic

SUMMARY: Even the much maligned pop-up ad can be effective (and possibly even appreciated by consumers) when the tactic aligns with a strategic purpose that makes sense. We asked a few hundred online advertisers what strategy their advertising is focused on, and the types of ads they use, in order to see which ad types are favored for each strategy.

Every Ad Has A Purpose—A Look At Strategy vs. Online Ad Tactic

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Users of non-standard, attention-getting ads are most likely to be marketers focused on brand awareness, while PPC search ad buyers are most likely to be focused on lead generation or direct sales. Seen like this, it seems somewhat obvious that the ad types would be used in nearly opposite ways, and yet many marketers will mistakenly apply an ineffective strategy to an otherwise good ad. You wouldn’t blame a plumber for being unable to fix your car, and yet marketers focused on generating direct sales will try a tactic like a sponsorship and blame the sponsorship when it doesn’t produce the desired results.

The best strategic match for the tactics on the top and bottom of the chart seem fairly obvious, but what about the tactics in the middle of the chart? It’s instructive to see how they are ordered within each strategic vertical. Sponsorships and contextual ads seem to make the most sense for marketers focused on brand consideration and education. These fairly subtle ad types both help to generate trust, which in turn, drives consideration.

For marketers focused on direct sales, pop-ups or pop-unders and small buttons appear to be especially useful. What both of these ad types have in common is the uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time. Button ads can easily and cheaply be placed in spaces where potential customers are most likely to be researching a purchase decision, while pop-ups or pop-unders can be timed to appear right when a consumer is most likely to be ready to convert to a sale. The key to both of these executions is that they are designed to be useful to the consumer, not simply distracting.

Every marketer engaged in online advertising should take a long look at the online ad they are using and think about whether they are using the right tool for the job.

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