The internet has spoken: digital advertising has a bad rep.
As a fellow consumer, I totally get it. Pop-ups and auto-plays are a nuisance, and some overzealous remarketing tactics dance the line between helpful and creepy (oftentimes, more creepy… I’m looking at you, Hulu commercials). However, as a marketer and champion of digital ads, I’m here to tell you that not all ads are bad. In fact, in our current digital marketplace, digital ads are extremely effective for almost any business.
Here are some interesting statistics for you based on a 2016 study:
“83% of respondents agree that not all ads are bad, but they want to filter out the really obnoxious ones.”
“...respondents also agree that most online ads today don’t look professional and are insulting to their intelligence (63% and 56%, respectively).”
“Social media ads, which are fairly unobtrusive, are useful for 47% of respondents.” The same survey showed 57% of people found Search Ads to be valuable or useful.
As it turns out, most consumers don’t hate all ads; they hate bad ads. The good news is that there are solutions to correct bad ads, and they aren’t as complicated as you might think.
Content & Context
With social media and video ads gaining traction in the digital ad space, we have just a few seconds to capture someone’s attention as they scroll through their newsfeeds. This means ads should include (you guessed it!) strong content. What exactly does that mean?
- Powerful Visuals: Think custom photography or videos. Photos of real patients in actual doctor/patient settings are much more relatable than a cheesy stock photo, and will connect with your audience that much more.
- Authentic Voice: Use a voice that’s relatable, approachable, and trusted. This should be established early in your branding process and strengthened over time.
- Consider the Customer Journey: Not only does this refer to messaging that fits the visuals, but also to the call to action in the ad. Each step your customer journey needs to make sense with what you’re selling. (Example, don’t make an ad that says “Contact us for Invisalign” with an image of a kid in braces, leading to a landing page that talks about teeth whitening...how confusing is that?)
If content is King, then context is Queen. As important as it is to have the right messaging, visuals, and calls to action, it’s just as important to make sure your ads are living in the proper digital neighborhood. For example, Google and Facebook have very different approaches when it comes to ad placement and audience reach, so it’s important that our context matches these. Not only does this leave room for larger misrepresentations of the brand, but it also makes it that much harder to get a conversion when the audience isn’t targeted correctly. Ultimately, it’s a waste of time and money. And no one wants that.
Google vs. Facebook
While these two platforms have often been portrayed as bitter rivals in the digital ad space, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Google ads and Facebook ads, when used properly, can coexist harmoniously by providing what the other lacks. Ideally, you’ll have a strategy that incorporates both. Why? Because they’re both amazing platforms to advertise on, that’s why!
Google Ads meet demand. This strategy focuses on keywords or phrases (“dentist near me”, or “best dentist in Columbus”, for example) in the hopes that your ads will show at the top of the search results. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you’re charged a certain amount of money based on bidding, quality scores, relevancy, and much more. This point-and-shoot strategy is very effective in reaching consumers who are actively looking for what you offer, and therefore, is a great option for existing practices, new practices, group practices with multiple locations, or advertising for specialized services.
Facebook Ads create demand. This strategy focuses on targeting audiences based on interests, online behavior, and demographics to show them ads that might be relevant to them. These ads offer a lot of room for a strong brand message with broader text options and visuals. Because of this, new dental practices can use them to get in front of their local communities who haven’t heard of them yet, or existing practices can remarket to their audience in a far less intrusive way than standard Display ads.
Consumers are only getting savvier - they now expect a truly personalized experience. Though social media ads and video content are growing like crazy right now, there are still so many advances in the digital ad world to be excited about. Voice search is projected to reach 50% of the search volume by early 2020, more sophisticated Google remarketing techniques are beginning to take hold, and growing omni-channel marketing methods aim to approach consumers wherever they are with a singular, consistent brand message. To stay ahead of the curve in coming years, marketers and businesses will need to excel at producing authentic, powerful content to share with their well-targeted audience. Good news: we’re really, really good at that.