When trying to choose an advertising network for your online ads, the sheer number of choices can seem overwhelming — especially when you aren’t completely clear on all of the terminology.
For example, one of the biggest obstacles for any advertiser is figuring out the differences between contextual, niche, and geotargeted advertising networks. While there are some similarities between these terms, they are also different enough that making the wrong decision can cause you to lose money and not see positive results from your campaign.
Defining Network Types
When it comes to targeted online advertising networks, not all things are created equal. Depending on your goals, one type of network may be better than others, or you may need to use several different types.
Contextual Ad Networks. Contextual ads are those which appear on websites that look to be related to the content of the ad — in other words, the network relies on the keywords contained within the websites to determine the context of the page, and places related advertisements accordingly. For example, a website related to crafting might contain advertisements for craft suppliers, craft shows, and other related topics. The drawback to contextual advertising, of course, is the chance that the ad network doesn’t always place ads appropriately or reach relevant audiences. However, these ad networks tend to be affordable, and reach a wide audience.
Niche Ad Networks. Niche ad networks take contextual placements one step further, and instead of focusing strictly on keywords, place ads on websites devoted to related topics. In this sense, the advertiser has a bit more control over the placement of their ads. When an ad is placed via a general ad network, the advertiser has little to no control over where the ad shows up, meaning that they could potentially advertise on websites that contain subject matter that they do not approve of, or aren’t in line with their company or customer values. They may also land on sites that aren’t relevant to their goals. With a niche network, you can work with publishers that serve your audience, and exercise more control over placement. Niche networks also tend to provide better results, since the ads are targeted to a more interested audience.
Geotargeting. Finally, the most specific type of targeted network is the geotargeted network. This type of network places ads based on the geographic location of users, letting them see ads for businesses that are nearby or relevant to them on a local level. Geotargeting is especially useful in mobile advertising, as it can show ads to potential customers in real time based on their actual location. This type of advertising is also useful to those companies looking to improve their local SEO.
Now that you know the difference between the different types of ad networks, you may still be unsure which to choose, since they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Your best bet is to ask a few important questions:
1. Who am I trying to reach with my ad? Understanding your audience, and where they “hang out” online is the first step toward any successful online campaign. When you know whom you are trying to reach and where they are, you can better evaluate ad networks.
2. Am I a local business? If you run a locally-based business, such as a bakery or car repair shop, targeting your online ads locally will garner better results than taking a more widespread approach. Even if you don’t own a local business, though, you can still tailor your results via geotargeting. For example, if you own a company that can help consumers respond to changes in local laws or address local issues, a geotargeted ad can help you reach potential customers.
3. How specialized is my product or service? Niche ad networks are well suited for companies that are trying to reach enthusiasts or people within certain demographics. The more specialized your offerings, the more targeted your advertising should be. At the same time, an ad network with a wide range of niche offerings allows you to target multiple customer groups, maximizing your investment.
4. What’s my budget? In most cases, the more targeted the placements, the more expensive they are, but keep in mind that well-placed advertisements are more likely to attract customers and increase conversions. Therefore, spending a bit more on a well-planned campaign may be a better choice than placing more ads on a lower-priced network.
Display ad networks currently represent just over 20 percent of the online display advertising market, and are only expected to grow in the future. By understanding which type of targeted network works best for your company, you can maximize your ad spending and see the results you need.