Much has been written lately about the value of combining text ads with display/image advertising online in order to boost visibility and brand awareness. This trend is not necessarily a new one: Yahoo/comScore issued a study in 2006 showing an increase in “online and offline purchasing by consumers who are exposed to integrated campaigns” that combined search and display. It struck me that using only search ads or display ads or even a combination of the two needn’t be the only method by which small businesses tap into their potential customer pool. I would suggest that there are a variety of other products that can also help connect a customer with a business that meets his/her need. Among those:  call tracking phone numbers, video ads, and splash or jump pages.

Let’s take a look at how some of those options can assist local businesses in promoting themselves.

Give ‘em a picture!

Back in the day, display or banner ads were the basic format for online advertising. Standard 468×60 banners were found on publisher sites and were the launching pad for businesses seeking online visibility. As time passed, other display units – buttons, pop-ups, rectangles, and skyscrapers – appeared and were standardized by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). Banner ads were the most common online ad format until peaking around 2000-01, when the dotcom crash led to a re-evaluation of the most effective online ad format. The result was paid placement in the form of Yahoo, Google, MSN, and all the other providers who were gobbled up by the big players in the space.

Due to the emergence of search, display or banner ads lost caché and before long did not get the attention once afforded. However, recent recognition of display ads in conjunction with search ads has lent display a new credibility. There are many display networks (ValueClick, Burst, Adify, etc.) that can fulfill the need for online advertising, and Google has made a new commitment to combining search and display via AdWords.

How did they get my number?

While it has been suggested that using call tracking numbers (CTN) can be problematic for local search, I would contend that when used wisely, call tracking numbers can provide a very useful means for measuring the effectiveness of ads. If used with a call recording feature or a whisper element prior to answering, businesses can gain insights on how well their ad campaigns are performing. Callbright, Ifbyphone, eStara, and Marchex VoiceStar among others provide various services depending on merchant needs.

If, for example, one call number is used for a campaign in conjunction with a splash page, the merchant will know that any call reported from that CTN is a result of the ad campaign with which the number is associated. Regarding concerns over using multiple call tracking numbers (see SEL article “Be Wary Of Call Tracking Numbers In Local Search” linked above), a merchant could be advised to use the same CTN in each medium: one for search, one for print, one for display.  That way the number can help evaluate success of each ad medium.

On special this week

A great way to focus user attention on products you want to emphasize or promote is by using a splash or landing page in your campaign. Sometimes called a jump page, this one-page site allows users to see just the information for a product on which the advertiser wants to focus sales. If Best Buy is offering a discount on plasma televisions for the month of October, a jump page can be the destination showing the info on the special offer with ad copy created for the campaign that mirrors the special offer on the page. This provides a specific connection between the ad copy and the jump page that draws users to the product discounted. The direct correlation between ad and page can reveal efficacy of campaign features. Going forward, as other products are spotlighted the same process may be employed.

Almost like being on TV!

Online video is one of the newer ad formats available to advertisers. Advertisers have used video on television for decades, and now video format can be viewed online. If a small business already has a local commercial running on television, the video from that television commercial can be linked to the online campaign for a dynamic means to convey the ad message. If an advertiser website has no video,  Windows Moviemaker and Jivox are just two sources available for creating video for online ad campaigns.  If your ad campaigns are outsourced, have your provider create a video for you!

Online marketing provides a myriad of ad types and formats, all of which can boost exposure for a business. For the small business that is not ready to jump into the effort using all of these suggested methods, adding one at a time and measuring the impact of the new ad type can provide important insight regarding how to allocate ad budget. Some of these may be more useful than others; it depends on the type of business. The point here is that small businesses should not limit their exposure by using just one sort of online ad format. Multiple points of interaction increases exposure to potential customers, which is what all advertising is about!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Small Is Beautiful

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About The Author: is Director of Operations at MerchEngines. Dr. Northart’s experience spans nearly a decade of key management and implementation for large scale local online marketing initiatives.

Connect with the author via: Email



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