In 2015 around $82 billion dollars will be spent advertising through search engines worldwide, a steady growth of around 38% since 2013. About 55% of that total will go to Google, for obvious reasons: there are billions of searches made every month, and around 40,000 searches every single second.

Ad Growth Spend Increase

Importantly for us, a significant amount of these searches are users looking for products they want to purchase, and it is up to us as marketers to ensure we are there at the right time with a relevant message.

Some brands however take the stance that this ad space is a waste of money (could not agree less, but that’s an argument for another day!) – why should they choose to pay for that traffic if they’re getting it organically? Unfortunately, for a lot of brands this can be the end of their relationship with paid advertising.

In total, digital ad spend will be around $171 billion globally in 2015. If we take away the search engines, there is a lot of money left on the table for a whole range of mediums. I chose this topic because I believe there are paid advertising channels that can be used effectively by any brand, in any industry.

Digital Advertising Platforms

For starters, $24 billion will be spent reaching users on social networks, a figure that is growing much faster year on year than Google.

Social Network Ad Spend

At 4Ps it is our responsibility to understand the goals of your businesses, and whilst these will vary for everyone, they will all fit into the conversion journey we follow at 4Ps: Awareness, Consideration, Conversion.

The goal of this piece is to talk about the range of paid mediums that could be used to reach goals that fit into each of these areas.

If you’re looking for awareness, Facebook has to be considered. There are 1.5 billion monthly active users globally, and 1 in every 5 minutes spent on a mobile device is on the Facebook app – so I will always try my best to disagree with anyone who says their audience is not on Facebook. In Denmark they say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. In paid advertising, there is no such thing as a bad medium, just bad targeting.

The targeting options we have on Facebook are highly powerful, and there are some important factors to include in your awareness strategy. Firstly, the demographics and interests of your customers should be considered when setting up campaigns. You will know this already, and we can use GA to understand further how your audience looks and behaves online. Facebook’s technology can help expand on this knowledge by finding users that behave similarly to our existing customers, conveniently grouping them together into an audience list for us to target – a clever and effective way of reaching a new and relevant audience.

Facebook Advertising

We can’t discuss Facebook ads without mentioning Instagram. In 2012, Facebook purchased the app for a massive billion-dollar figure; obviously, with the goal of launching sponsored posts. With this purchase, Zuckerberg acquired an audience of over 400 million users per month to use their powerful advertising infrastructure with, and whilst it is very early days, Instagram has the foundations to become a very important platform for building connections with new audiences.

Instagram Advertising

After awareness, we have the important process of reaching users whilst they are in the consideration, or research phase of their journey. If you feel you have nailed your organic strategy and need no further visibility in search engines, it could be worth considering Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSPs) as a means of reaching your users whilst they are considering a product you could offer them.

If you aren’t aware, Google are crawling your Gmail inbox and matching our ads to relevant keywords they find (all completely anonymised of course). In addition to keywords, we can target domains. This becomes particularly powerful when we consider the tactic of targeting competitor domains that your potential customers may be receiving newsletters from to help inform their next purchase.

Gmail Advertising

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for a lot of people, is driving conversion. The 1985 movie Back To The Future decided to focus on hover boards and self-tying sneakers when predicting the future; however if they had decided to cover advertising platforms instead, they may have imagined 2015 as a place where TV advertisements were tailored to the eyes in front of it, with billboards changing depending on who was driving past it. With digital advertising, that is (sort of) the reality today.

Custom audience targeting on Facebook, Twitter, and recently Google as well, allows us to upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers and target these people specifically with a tailored message. This is a highly powerful tool to have available, and if used effectively could have a huge impact on your final conversion rates. You may want to suggest an additional product to accompany a users’ previous purchase from you, or target users that have recently signed up to your mailing list and need a nudge to purchase; there are endless opportunities to personalise your digital marketing to the user.

Custom Audiences

With paid search, people often fail to consider anything outside of Google & Bing, so I have purposely tried to avoid talking about these here, in order to emphasise the wide range of paid mediums there are for brands to reach their audiences. In 2016, brands that use paid mediums to personalise their marketing to users will win, and social platforms are allowing us to do this today more than ever.