If you’ve never advertised your product, service or business before, you might find the world of advertising to be daunting. You have a variety of media to choose from, each with their own advertising products, prices and lingo that aren’t necessarily intuitive.
You’ll find some basic information here that will help you wade through these waters.
Television and Radio
Broadcast media have a finite space (i.e. just 24 hours a day). That space is divvied up among programming content, public service announcements and ads. The ads you’d be buying are called “spots” and you pay for a fixed amount of time (e.g. 30 seconds). Although you could buy a single spot, it is much cheaper for you (on a per-spot basis) to buy a bulk of spots. Especially with TV, where the cost of producing an ad is so expensive, it wouldn’t make sense for you to run the commercial just once.
The cost of a 30-second spot will vary greatly among stations (based on the number of listeners), and among the time of day. Drive time for radio and prime time for TV will cost you a premium over ads in the middle of the night, for instance. So when you buy a package of spots, you’ll probably get your ads spread out over the course of a day, with a spot or two during more desirable times (or programs), with the majority of your spots being at less-desirable times. Be aware that even though you think you’ve purchased spots for a specific time, if another advertiser comes in and is willing to pay more for those spots, they can bump your ad out of that time slot. Because of the finite space for ads in broadcast media, the law of supply and demand are in full swing.
Like broadcast media, outdoor advertising has limited real estate. They can’t easily add a new billboard if they are running at 100-percent capacity. However, with billboards you can lock in the duration of your ad, so you don’t have to worry about another advertiser with deeper pockets bumping you off halfway through the month.
Billboard rates are determined by the number of eyeballs they deliver. So a billboard on a busy freeway will cost a premium over a billboard on a less-busy street. You usually buy billboard space a month at a time, and you can also get discounts for committing to run longer.
Magazine ads are pretty straight-forward. They typically have just a handful of sizes that you can choose from. So a full-page ad might cost $X, a half-page ad would cost a little more than half of $X, and a quarter-page ad would cost a little more than a quarter of $X. Magazine ads usually include color in their prices because color ads visually enhance the overall look of their magazine.
Newspaper advertising is probably the trickiest to understand because there are so many options. The ads you typically see scattered throughout news pages are called display ads, also known as run-of-press (ROP) ads. Newspapers typically charge per column inch for those ads. A column inch is one column wide by one inch tall. So an ad that spans six columns and is ten inches tall is called a 60-inch ad. If the newspaper charges $X per column inch, you’d be looking at paying $60X for that ad to run once. If you want the ad to be in color, you will probably have to pay extra, either as a flat color cost, or an extra color cost per column inch. You can get discounts if you agree to run a certain number of inches over a specific period, or if you agree to run an ad a certain number of times.
In addition to running display ads in newspapers, you can run classified line ads (paying per word, per line, etc.) or classified display ads, which price more like display ads but run in the classified section. You can also pay for advertorials that are written to look like news content (the front page of a real estate insert, for example) but are written by advertising people, not the editorial folks.
You can also put pre-printed inserts into the paper. Newspapers will charge you a fee per thousand inserts. So if you decide to have the newspaper put in 10,000 of your inserts, and the cost is $X per thousand, you will pay $10X. You will also have to pay to have the inserts created and delivered to the newspaper.
Online Ads in Traditional Media
As you know, newspapers and broadcast stations also have websites. They run the same types of ads as other online publishers (e.g. banner ads and text ads), but they don’t always price the ads the same. Since traditional media companies are used to telling their advertisers what to pay for ads, they’ve adopted the same approach for ads on their websites. They usually charge one of two ways: per a fixed period of time (e.g. a month) or per impressions served.
The nice thing about these pricing structures is you’ll know about how long your ad will be online. If you pay for a month, you’ll be up for a month. If you pay per impression, the media company should be able to tell you what their average impressions per day are. Chances are you’ll also be able to deal with the same sales person for online ads as for the other ads you purchase with them.
The downside to this is you aren’t paying based on the effectiveness of the ad. Like running a radio spot or a print ad, you expect the ad to ultimately generate sales for you, and with online ads you have a better ability to track that your website visitors clicked through a particular ad, but if your ad doesn’t get enough people to your site to buy your product, you may pay for a lot of eyeballs that don’t do anything for you.
Online Ads in the Performance Marketing Space
Before traditional media companies even had their own websites, Internet publishers were hosting advertising banners placed through affiliate networks. The publishers (anyone with a website that wants to advertise someone’s product on their site would be considered a publisher), to a certain extent, were happy to take whatever money the advertisers were willing to push their way. And the advertisers, thanks to the electronic nature of the Web’s marketplace, wanted to pay for actions, not just eyeballs.
Today there are hundreds of these affiliate networks that help pair online advertisers with online publishers. To advertise on these networks, you need to simply join the network. Most networks are free to join and you’ll have a network manager assigned to you. Others are more like exchanges where you pay to join, then post your campaigns on the exchange hoping to get picked up by the many online publishers in that network. You will have direct access to the publishers in an exchange, but probably not have any access to publishers in a managed network.
Affiliate networks are using the term “performance marketing” to highlight the fact that you’ll pay for actions, not just eyeballs. What you pay depends on what you are selling and the type of campaign you run.
If you are a bricks-and-mortar retailer, you will probably run a cost-per-sale (CPS) campaign. This simply means you pay a publisher only if a visitor on the publisher’s site clicks through your ad, lands on your site, and buys your product. When you start the campaign, you’ll tell the publisher what the percentage of each sale you will pay. So if you figure you can afford to pay 10-percent commission on all sales coming from a publisher’s site and still be profitable, your campaign will have a 10-percent payout. Publishers decide whether to run your ads based on 1) the payout and 2) how well the advertised product fits with the publisher’s site content.
If you aren’t selling a physical product, you may want to do a cost-per-lead (CPL) campaign. For example, if you are just trying to build up your email list, you might want to put an ad on a publisher’s site that entices a user to fill out a form with their email address. Once the form gets submitted, that lead gets tracked in a tracking system, you get the email address you’re looking for, and you then pay the publisher whatever amount you previously decided for that lead.
If you run performance campaigns through networks, you actually won’t pay the publishers directly. You will actually pay the network, which will then pay the publishers. The network will also have the tracking software that tracks your sales and leads. The network will provide you with a login to their tracking software so you can monitor your campaign’s activity and results.
As you can see, there is a lot to learn for advertisers in the traditional and online arenas. I hope this information has given you a good starting point for learning more.