Here’s where we like advertising online. What about you?

What web-based advertising have you used in the last year or two? As we’re helping 60 or more engineering and scientific companies with their online advertising, I thought it might be worth going through the main types we’ve tried, and summarising the results. But we’d love to know if your own experience is the same, in the comments section.

First of all, the big daddy: Google AdWords search advertising. For the type of technical marketing we deal with, this is the first place to be advertising, online or offline. Costs are rising as the environment gets more competitive, but with careful management they can be contained. It’s also, curiously, becoming the “place to be seen”. In the past, the MD would ask the marketing manager why the company wasn’t on the front cover of their trade magazine. Now it’s more likely to be: “Why isn’t our advert at the top of the page when I search Google for Blue Widgets?”

If you’re advertising in the Google search results, I’d also consider Bing Ads, which are almost identical, but (obviously) run on Microsoft’s Bing search engine. In the past, I’d have said that the response you’d get was too small to justify the effort, but it seems to be growing, and the effort is lower than ever. There’s a simple import process from your Google AdWords account.

LinkedIn advertising is a bit hit-and-miss, in my experience. I guess that compared to search advertising, LinkedIn has the problem that its users aren’t as likely to be looking for a product, or suppliers. In that respect, it has more in common with traditional printed media – you need to make casual readers sit up and take notice. LinkedIn advertising can be surprisingly expensive too. However, for an event (and certainly for jobs), it’s definitely worth an experiment.

You’ll know if you’re in a market where Facebook advertising could be relevant. For almost all of our clients, it’s not. I think that adverts for blue widgets on Facebook still seem too out of place to get a response, and again, nobody’s going to be using Facebook to search for a product supplier, so you’ll need to strike lucky.

Image Adverts

For image adverts (or banner adverts as they used to be known), there are two real options. The first is the Google Ads Display Network, which allows you to advertise on millions of websites with a single set-up and payment procedure. You can choose the sites by topic, by specific name, or use remarketing to show your ads all over the place, but only to people who’ve been to your site. If Google AdWords search advertising requires careful management, the Google Ads Display Network needs even more attention and experience. I’ve seen accounts where without noticing, advertisers were promoting engineering components on kids iPhone games – the volume of views were amazing, but the RoI was appalling. But get it right, and the results from the Google Ads Display Network can be excellent.

For websites which sell their advertising directly and can’t be covered through the Google Ads Display Network, things are more tricky. You’ll have to deal with each one individually, and – unlike the examples above – the cost is more often than not fixed, rather than pay-per-click. To be quite honest, this is pretty unacceptable after 20 years of web advertising, but thousands of websites are still operating this way. I guess that with print advertising still operating on the “pay your money and take your chances” basis, there’s no reason why websites can’t get away with the same system of no payment by results, and no guarantees. But at least with print magazines, you get to see your nice advertisement in your hand. With websites, there’s no such satisfaction, and I’m astonished at how many advertisers still accept the publisher’s claims on how many times the advert was seen, and don’t even measure the visits they received from the advert.

What’s your experience? I’d love to know.

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