What’s the best digital advertising platform in 2014?

Advertising has come a long way and the digital age has made it much easier for companies to sleep at night knowing their marketing dollars are working for them. With digital advertising, you can track how much you’re spending per ‘click’, how much traffic is being driven to your site from the ad, and what that traffic is doing when they get to your site. Furthermore, digital advertising continues to be one of the best-performing marketing tactics dollar-for-dollar compared to traditional advertising.

The real advantage of digital advertising is that you can adjust and optimize your campaign once the results start coming in.

Where should you invest your advertising dollars? There are plenty of choices and they all have their appeal and merit. Let’s take a look at what Sherpa Marketing believes to be 5 of the top online advertising platforms.

Recently, Sherpa ran a campaign for a client in the healthcare industry and we tracked the results from each of the platforms we ran advertisements on. The metrics we’ll be looking at are:

-          Cost per click (CPC)

-          Fee per thousand impressions (CPM)

-          Clickthrough rate (CTR)

We also assigned a score on the visibility of the ad out of 10 possible points. We attempted to capture how likely each impression is to notice the ad, how prominently is the ad placed, the size of the ad, and whether it uses strictly text or images.

The Results

Platform

CPC

CPM

CTR

Visibility

AdWords

$1.22

$2.32

0.19%

6

LinkedIn Ads

$2.23

$0.89

0.04%

2

Kijiji

$4.00

$12.00

0.30%

7

Facebook

$0.64

$0.22

0.03%

2

WebMD

26.64

$8.72

0.13%

10

 

 

1.       Google AdWords

Summary

Far and away the leader in digital advertising, Google is a beast – and AdWords is Google’s leading revenue generator.

Advantages

-          Advanced conversion tracking available

-          Campaigns optimize to ensure profitability

Disadvantages

-          Text only

-          Can become prohibitively expensive on competitive keyword phrases

 

2.       Google Image Ads

Summary

Image Ads are ads placed on the Google Display network. These are websites that have agreed to host ads of a pre-specified size on their site. Advertisers can target based on the content of the Display Network Partners’ websites.

Advantages

-          Low-cost

-          Visual (images and video)

Disadvantages

-          Targeting is difficult

 

3.       LinkedIn Ads

Summary

Ads appear along the side of the page as a user navigates LinkedIn. Ads can be targeted to only display for very specific demographics.

Advantages

-          Highly targeted due to the detail LinkedIn has about its users (industry, job title, age, etc.)

Disadvantages

-          Minimal visibility (small and off-centre location)

-          Forced structure to ads – difficult to format well

 

4.       LinkedIn Sponsored Updates

Summary

A business can make any one of its posts a “sponsored update”. This will make the ad appear alongside regular content in the newsfeed of people in the specified target market.

Advantages

-          Highly targeted (same as LinkedIn ads)

-          Highly visible

-          Great location (alongside organic newsfeed content)

Disadvantages

-          Very expensive

-          Difficult to format

 

5.       Facebook

Summary

The still-leading social media platform offers advertising options to businesses. Results display along the side of the screen. There is limited targeting available based on some basic demographics (age, gender, location).

Advantages

-          Low cost

-          Campaigns optimize to ensure profitability

Disadvantages

-          Targeting is fairly weak

-          Weak visibility and resulting clickthrough rate

 

6.       Kijiji

Summary

Kijiji is one of many niche advertising opportunities that exists if you know where to look. They offer a variety of ways of targeting at reasonable rates. High visibility of the ads implies that you’re more likely to get noticed.

Advantages

-          Excellent clickthrough rate

-          Large, flexible locations and sizes

Disadvantages

-          Limited reach

 

Overall Stats

Results will, of course, vary from campaign to campaign, but from the campaigns Sherpa has managed, we have made some observations and we have ranked the platforms according to their ‘normal’ performance in each of the 4 categories

Rank

CPC

CPM

CTR

Visibility

1

Image Ads

Facebook

Kijiji

LinkedIn Sponsored Update

2

AdWords

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Sponsored Update

Kijiji

3

Facebook

Image Ads

AdWords

AdWords

4

LinkedIn Ads

AdWords

Image Ads

Image Ads

5

Kijiji 

LinkedIn Sponsored Update

Facebook

Facebook

6

LinkedIn Sponsored Update

Kijiji

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Ads

 

Winners:
CPC: Google AdWords and Image Ads
Impressions: Facebook
Targeting: LinkedIn Sponsored updates
Overall Winner: LinkedIn Sponsored Updates

For delivering the lowest cost per click, Google is still the best. For getting the most impressions for the cheapest cost, Facebook is unequalled (though the quality of impressions leaves something to be desired).

For my money, LinkedIn’s ‘Sponsored Updates’ is the winner. The combination of great visibility, solid clickthrough rates, and unrivalled targeting means you’ll be truly reaching your target audience and engaging them.

LinkedIn will only take you so far, however, since it is not as ubiquitous as Google or even Facebook, and is mostly useful as a B2B play. Depending on your goals, budget and target market one or more other strategies may be the best fit.

Also keep in mind that there are many other digital advertising platforms not discussed that may be worth considering as well. Pinterest and Instagram, for instance, are two emerging platforms that continue to work their way into the mix.

Whatever you do, measure, measure, measure!

Or call us for a consultation on which platform is right for you.

 

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