How Caribbean Brands Can Upgrade Their Digital Marketing Strategy With These 5 Key Channels for Paid Digital Advertising.
One of the things that I have observed in the past few years is the share of advertising dollars has been increasing year over year. In countries like the US and Canada, research done by Juniper Research has shown that the percentage of digital advertising dollars keeps growing. While this is the case in places like North America, I do not believe that Caribbean brands have fully taken advantage of the many opportunities that digital advertising offers.
I also do not believe that many Caribbean businesses are exploring any form of digital advertising beyond Social Media advertising. The three big channels where digital advertising is growing are Search engine marketing, display advertising and social media advertising. The three big dogs in the digital advertising space are Google, Facebook and Amazon. Amazon being the newcomer, disrupted the duopoly that existed with Facebook and Google for years.
Before you decide to run a digital advertising campaign, there are four things you need to pay attention to; first, determine your campaign goal, what exactly you are trying to achieve. Second, select your budget and decide what metrics to measure your success. Third, choose from the many channels you want to run your ads through and your budget to determine how you allocate spending among the different channels. Finally, measure the results of your digital advertising campaign and optimize. Do not wait until the end of the campaign to measure and optimize. This should be done from the beginning.
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Now that we know the process we need to go through, let’s look at the different digital advertising channels available to us in the Caribbean.
Social Media Advertising
Social media is one of the most widely used in the Caribbean for advertising. Small to large companies, non-profits and political organizations use Facebook ads. However, apart from Facebook, other social media platforms all have ad products, such as Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Social media advertising is cheap and very targeted, and in the Caribbean, competition is very low for audience attention since not many people are currently running ads online. The cost will increase soon once more people are advertising, however in the meantime, consider setting up and running your first social media ad today if you haven’t already.
Email is not really an advertising channel in the strictest sense; however, it’s one of the oldest and still effective forms of marketing. We all get emails from companies daily, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming getting all these emails. However, there are some advantages to email marketing. For me, the biggest one is you know exactly who you are talking to; these are people you have direct access to, and you do have specific behavioural data such as what they purchased in the past etc. You can also track and measure the actions people take in your email. Email will allow you to help target your other channels when advertising; for example, you can upload your email list on Facebook and create a custom or lookalike audience to target with an ad. You can have a different list and personalize your email to your distinct audience based on specific behaviours. It is important to note that your email needs to be optimized for mobile as increasingly people open their email on their smartphones.
Search Engine Marketing
The next channel for digital advertising is search, paid search on search engines like Google. When you search on Google, you get two types of results. The first set of results has the words “ads” next to them, and this is what I am talking about when I mention the word search; these are “search ads” or search engine marketing. The next set of results is organic and not influenced by any advertising bids. It is primarily based on what the search engine thinks is relevant. You can get your website to show up there through a process called SEO or “Search Engine Optimization.” But here, we are not talking about SEO but the paid part of “search.” Google is the most prominent Search engine in the world.
Google is an intent-based platform which is why search ads, which are text-only, are so crucial because you reach customers based on that moment of intent. You can pay only for clicks with search ads, which means the impressions are free. You can bid on keywords that customers are typing into the search engines to influence customers’ purchase decisions.
Have you ever been on a website, and you start seeing ads on the top, sides or middle of the page? This is called display advertising or, as some people say, banner ads. These can come in various shapes and sizes. Unlike search, display advertising pays per impression and not clicks. The price also varies; a website or publisher that has a lot of prestige and traffic may charge more than a publisher that is not so well known or have a lot of traffic going to it. Display ads are great for branding, driving awareness and consideration. However, it can also be used to drive conversion. Some publishers like Forbes, CNN, etc., will sell ad space on their website directly to a business. However, you can buy display ads through an ad network. Ad networks act as intermediaries between advertisers and publishers. You can do a quick google search to find the most popular ad networks you can use.
The next channel is video advertising; have you ever been watching a video online, and just before the video starts, you must sit through an ad, or right in the middle of the video, an ad pops up. I’m not too fond of this type of disruptive advertising, but hey, it works. You can also think of video ads as a form of more engaging display ads, and videos have enormous potential reach. I know many of you have been on websites, and a video starts playing on the page or in the middle of an article; these ads can be purchased through video ads networks.
Video ads can be pre-roll, you know those video ads you have to watch before starting your music video on Youtube, and as I mentioned, these can also be placed in the middle of your video (Mid-roll) or at the end (post-roll). On platforms like Youtube or Vimeo, you can also have suggested or promoted videos just like you have a search result in a search engine. When I am on youtube, I can’t wait to skip the ads after 5 seconds, and you may ask if people are skipping my ads after 5 seconds, why should I pay. Well, you do not when they skip for starters, so that’s good brand awareness, especially if you can put something catchy in those first five seconds. The key here is to find ways to keep customers engaged and watch your videos beyond the first five seconds.
To wrap up, I want to look at three critical principles for digital advertising. These are targeting, personalization and optimization.
With targeting, you can reach exactly who you are trying to reach with your ads. Take a look at a traditional advertising channel like television. When your ad is shown on TV, it’s challenging to ensure that the audience you want to reach with your ads is the ones that are seeing it. You do not have this problem with digital advertising because you can get very granular and tell the different digital advertising channels precisely to whom you want to target and deliver your ads.
The following principle is personalization; digital advertising allows you to speak to many different customers and tailor your message specifically to them. You can advertise the same product to different market segments and create personalized messages to speak directly to that audience group based on the targeting options you choose.
Finally optimization, with optimization, you look at the plan you started with and measure, learn and adjust along the way. You can optimize the channels, looking at which channels are most effective, whether display, social search etc. You can optimize based on the media, looking at which publications or places you are advertising are most effective and finally, on the creative, which videos or images work best for you.
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