There are 5 main digital media channels where you can purchase online and mobile media.

Online Advertising Usage - Mobile vs Desktop browsing - Stanley Morgan Graph

This graph was shown at digital conferences around the world in 2009 and proclaimed to show that mobile browsing would overtake desktop browsing by 2013

Display banner advertising

Display banner advertising is one of the oldest forms of online media, going back almost 2 decades. The IAB standardized the size of banner ads about 2006. The number of standard sizes continues to grow but the tried and trusted are:

  • the banner at 468×60 (wide x high) pixels,
  • the leaderboard at 728×90 pixels,
  • the medium rectangle (med rec) or island ad at 300×250 pixels,
  • the skyscraper at 120×600 pixels or the wide sky at 160×600 pixels and
  • the tower at 120×240 pixels.

The IAB have done a survey of advertisers and publishers to ask the industry what online advertising placements they thought were the most creative as well as effective. These placements were called the rising stars and the 6 winners were:

– 600×300 half page rich media
– portrait (something like half page and skyscraper but longer)
– slider (overlay to side)
– push down
– sidekick
– billboard (YouTube eg)

But these are the ad placements of the future and require a blog post of their own. Stay tuned.

Display banner advertising used to be bought primarily on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM). But today advertisers are more savvy and expect a higher return on investment for their marketing dollars which has driven the performance and affiliate display networks. These performance networks specialize in a cost per acquisition or commission on each sale generated via their network – effectively a percentage of the sale price.

Advertisers pay a premium for targeted or high profile/ highly trafficked placements or websites. You can buy specific sizes or placements (verticals – themes and topics, website homepage, section main pages etc).

Advertisers can also buy a run of section, run of site (ROS) or run of network (RON) – which are far cheaper buys because you have less control over where and when your ads will be seen.  Run of network basically means it is the filler inventory and will run in placements that are not purchased specifically. Run of network display buys are the most inexpensive because they are not targeted.

Affiliate and acquisition marketing – display inventory

Affiliate advertising or marketing is a channel that has emerged in the last 3-4 years due to pressure from advertisers for a display channel that more closely represents paid search. Affiliate marketing is a channel for acquisition or lead generation buys. Advertisers purchase media on a cost per acquisition (CPA$) or a cost per lead (CPL).

Special tracking codes are required to be inserted into the advertisers website or conversion pages to ensure that the publisher can confirm the transaction or sale and charge the acquisition cost to the advertiser. These can be called action tags or spotlight tags or simple post click or post view tags.

Affiliate campaigns are often best suited to online retailers or promotional based messages. They are most effective at generating eCommerce sales but can also be used to acquire newsletter subscriptions or registrations of interest.

Search engine marketing (SEM) and Google’s content network

Search engine marketing (SEM) is better known as paid search or pay per click (PPC). Paid search has been best marketed by Google (of course) in the form of Google Adwords. This has made search marketing accessible to small business owners and the uninitiated. Paid search is often the most cost effective paid online advertising channel.

SEM is not to be confused with SEO. Search engine marketing (SEO) is the art of optimizing your website for Google’s search robot, known as a spider. But the real secret is the algorithm that Google uses to determine what websites will rank at the top of their search results for any given keyword a user may type into the search query box.

SEO has many elements that all need to be implemented to maximize its effectiveness but in essence, its about your website content and the links in and out of your website. If you optimize your site well for your intended users searches, Google will find you and deliver your users to your website.

However, if you cannot optimize your website the rank well in Google’s search engine, you are able to pay for your search listing to rank high in Google’s sponsored links. The two channels should be used to compliment each other. Where one is not effective enough, the other can support it. Your click history will improve over time as you continue to optimize your paid and organic search campaigns for the best possible click through rate (CTR%) or conversions (leads).

Google also offers a content network to display its ads outside of Google’s search engine. Google’s content network allows advertisers to run either text ads or display banners ads. Google places your ad on participating websites, at random or within specific themes or verticals, as required to target the desired audience. The Google content network also operates on a cost per click (CPC$) methodology, like all Google search listings, rather than a traditional cost per thousand impressions (CPM).

Click here to read more about search engine marketing and paid search bidding strategies.


Email marketing

In my opinion, email marketing is at its best as a customer relationship tool. It is best as a broadcast channel to highlight information, products, services and promotions to interested customers or members.

However there are list brokers that accumulate email databases through various methods (survey incentives are popular) and then sell the lists to third party advertisers to promote their products and acquire new customers or leads.

Email lists are typically bought on a cost per record. The cost per email address will depend on your targeting requirements, the size of the list you are purchasing and your budget. However in recent years the poor response rates from such lists has resulted in advertisers seeking a cost per click ($CPC) or cost per acquisition ($CPA) buy. Your success in securing such a buy will often come down to the offer you plan to send to email recipients and the acquisition path that the user is expected to follow once they click on the email advertisement. The fewer web pages in your acquisition form or checkout – the higher your chances of a CPC or CPA buy.

Social media and social networking

Social networks such as twitter, facebook, linkedin and myspace have been hugely successful in attracting incredible numbers of members and keeping them active. Social media, such as video, blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds, have increased the effectiveness of social networking for businesses and organisations, allowing them to use a variety of mediums to communicate their message.

Such a large gathering of individuals, with very specific detail about their lives and interests, is very attractive to businesses. It represents an opportunity to target your preferred audience without media budget wastage and in many cases, without media budget at all.

But more importantly, social media plays a significant part in marketing strategies – specifically website content and engagement strategies for businesses to connect with their customers and build their list of prospective clients. Social Media gives businesses the ability to listen and learn about what their customers want and in some cases use social profiles as a customer service channel. Social networks also offer a forum for a two-way conversation between brand and customer as well as between peers.

Social media is a way of connecting brands directly to individuals – as customers or fans. Once a customer has become a fan, you can convert them into an advocate. And an advocate is priceless because then you start to see the real power of social media and that is friends of fans. The digital industry is still trying to figure out what the best measurement of success is for social campaigns and the value of a fan or follower or LIKE is hotly debated. But this space is only going to grow and in my opinion it is bringing new creativity into the content marketing space.

Mobile marketing and Mobile apps (applications)

.Mobi websites have been around for a few years now. Most users aren’t even aware that they’ve been redirected to a mobi site.

Mobile banner advertising looked promising at first, around 2008, but seemed to have died off until more recently when it has had a resurgence in 2011.

SMS and Bluetooth push campaigns have shown some value but similar to email, I believe SMS is best used as a customer relationship tool to highlight offers and promotions and has limited impact as a broadcast medium to a relatively cold list.  SMS is useful for transactional communications and status updates.

Mobile search, video and live tv consumption is growing at incredible rates since the introduction of smart phones like the Blackberry and iphone. We are also seeing a convincing trend towards simultaneous media consumption using multiple devices. In 2011, 51% of Aussies used their mobile while watching TV.

The penetration of tablets in the Australian marketplace has been a game changer for mobile marketing as consumer behavior has changed very quickly and created “the companion experience” which is essentially dual media consumption. Tablet penetration in Australia is 8.5%in 2011 and expected to grow to 33% by 2015. The uptake of the tablet (mostly the iPad) in Australia has been fastest uptake of any technology, ever!

Tablets sit in space between tv and newspapers as far as time spent consuming media. Tablets have changed the time of day that people are consuming media – we are seeing higher volumes of people online at night. But mostly importantly, the reason the iPad has been a game changer for mobile is because it allows you to have a stronger emotional connection while consuming media because the primary purpose of the iPad is to “surprise and delight”.

Mobile applications present brands with the biggest opportunity they’ve ever had to brand content and engage with their customers. But there is a flip side. An “app” relies on a great concept – something useful, convenient, funny or tangible. There are 2 types of mobile apps – a native app or a web app, they allow the user to access different functionality.

Apps can be simple or incredibly complicated – it all depends on the concept, but they’re rarely inexpensive.

One thing you can be sure of is that the online advertising and digital media industry, and the channels that brands can use to communicate with their target audience, are still emerging. In 2011 we have seen strong growth in In-Game advertising or “gamification” due to technology such as Kinect. In-App advertising is also growing, interactive ads are found within apps for newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald as well as simple banner advertising on mobile android and iphone apps. While QR codes and Bluetooth marketing have been around for years, they’ve never used very effectively. I think we’re going to start seeing more interesting uses of these technologies as well as integration with products like Shazam.