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Demystifying Digital Media for Small Businesses

Ed Castro
at Sage Consulting Group
Sep 06, 2019

Learn the best platforms and formats for launching a digital media ad campaign.

Digital media is officially king.

Emarketer reported earlier this year that digital media spend is expected to increase to 54.2% of total U.S. media spending in 2019. This leaves traditional media at 45.8% of total U.S. ad spending, thus making digital media the dominant form of advertising for the first time ever in the United States. Considering the state of the internet, tech-related innovations and digital consumer trends, digital media spend is projected to continue scaling upward. 

Market share in the digital media world is becoming more diversified. According to Emarketer, Amazon will experience a 50% increase in its own ad business, shooting the tech giant upward to third place below Google and Facebook.

As a business owner, allocating a portion of your advertising budget toward digital media is a prudent decision. There isn’t any remaining advantage in utilizing traditional media.

It astonishes me that companies still spend money on traditional advertising methods rather than experimenting with digital advertising. There are a number of reasons why digital advertising benefits small businesses.

Should you spend your entire advertising budget on print, radio and/or TV in 2019? No, definitely not. You wouldn’t spend any of your budget on traditional media if I had my way.

Below I provide some helpful tips and recommendations on digital advertising platforms and ad formats to demystify some hurdles you and your business may be facing so that you can move forward confidently in planning and executing your marketing strategy. 

1. Integrate digital media into your budget 

Decision-makers are increasingly faced with the choice whether to allocate their entire advertising budget to traditional channels, digital channels or both. This decision should not be taken lightly. Let’s look at two different scenarios, what my recommendation would be for each and why. 

Scenario No. 1: You must use your advertising budget for either traditional advertising or digital advertising.

  • Recommendation: I would strongly suggest investing in digital advertising.
  • Why: Digital advertising has many advantages. Two significant advantages it has over traditional advertising are segmentation and tracking. Using digital advertising, you get session-based data. With traditional advertising, though, data is limited to larger data sets you can’t segment further. You can segment data as close to your demographic as possible with digital advertising. This is invaluable.

Scenario No. 2: You have the option to allocate a small amount of your budget to test digital advertising or allocate 100% of your budget to traditional advertising.

  • Recommendation: If you’re required to use most of your advertising budget on traditional advertising mediums, I still recommend allocating some of your budget to digital media.
  • Why: You can utilize this opportunity to supplement your traditional advertising ads with digital media ads a la media buying. Media buying is a great way to ease your business into digital advertising, gauge the impact of digital advertising and compare online customer engagement with offline customer engagement. Some digital advertising platforms provide advertising options integrated with traditional media, such as Facebook’s target rating points (TRP) buying option. 

Digital advertising has opened up a slew of possibilities for business owners to explore. There are more methods to advertise, more strategies to experiment with and more ways to engage your target demographic.

Sadly, this also means there are more ways to waste your company’s advertising budget if you are not careful. It may take some time, money and effort before you find the right digital advertising strategy for your business.

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2. Find the right digital advertising platform for your SMB 

Before you can spend your budget on digital media, you need to determine which advertising platform is best for your business. Many of these platforms benefit companies with any targeting objective. However, some only support certain objectives or criteria. There are more platforms out there.

For the purposes of this article, I will cover five of the major digital advertising platforms based on my experience. 

Platform: Google Ads

  • Description: Google Ads is a versatile platform offering five different main campaign types (with additional subtypes)
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: I recommend Google Ads for any objective as long as you’re not trying to drive sales to an Amazon store. Even then, Google Ads can be effective in remarketing to users or brand awareness

Platform: Bing Ads

  • Description: Bing Ads is another versatile platform with about as many campaign types and subtypes as Google Ads
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing – search network
  • Recommendation: Bing Ads is usually cheaper on a bid-by-bid basis compared to Google Ads, but it also has a smaller network. I recommend testing it for smaller companies and B2C lead generation

Platform: Amazon Ads

  • Description: A platform that exclusively focuses on
  • Targeting objective: e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Amazon Ads is exclusively for Amazon stores. This platform is essential for any company looking to sell products on Amazon

Platform: Facebook Ads

  • Description: A platform that focuses on, Instagram and Facebook audience network
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Facebook Ads can work well as either the primary platform or the support platform for any strategy. I recommend testing it out as a support platform because of its remarketing targeting options

Platform: AdRoll

  • Description: AdRoll focuses on remarketing to a predetermined user base across the AdRoll network and However, it just introduced prospecting campaigns
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: AdRoll has only offered display and video remarketing until recently. I strongly recommend this platform for remarketing purposes across the board. It’s a great support platform for lead generation or e-commerce objectives

3. Determine which ad formats are right for your small business 

Now that we have an idea of where we will advertise (fingers crossed), we can examine potential ad formats for each platform. Let’s take a brief look at the available ad formats.

Within the Google Ads platform, you have a pretty sizeable assortment of ad formats to choose from. This can be overwhelming ‒ even for a seasoned advertiser.

As a small business owner, the ad formats these platforms offer tend to complicate advertising-budget decisions rather than simplify them. Hopefully, I can fix that. Just to note, I am focusing on ad formats here, not campaign structure. 

Ad format: Text

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Text ads can (and should) be used to support all objectives. I recommend using them to penetrate and remarket to your audience

Ad format: Image

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads, AdRoll
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Image ads can be effective for metric-driven objectives (calls, sales etc.). They’re typically used for more broad objectives, such as brand awareness, product positioning etc. I recommend testing this format to supplement other ad types

Ad format: Video

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, AdRoll
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: I recommend using video ads for more broad objectives, such as brand awareness, remarketing, new product promotion etc. Users typically engage less with this ad type

Ad format: Call Only (Text)

  • Platform: Google Ads
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, remarketing – search network
  • Recommendation: This format is pretty straightforward. It drives phone calls on smartphones. I recommend using it to drive B2B or B2C leads

Ad format: Shopping (Datafeed)

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads
  • Targeting objective: e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: This ad format is also pretty straightforward. It shows product details to users based on a product feed. I recommend this format to drive e-commerce sales

Next steps

We have looked at changing media trends, popular digital advertising platforms and ad format recommendations. Hopefully, this has provided you with a deeper understanding of why digital media is important to utilize for your small business and how digital media can contribute to your bottom line. Now it is up to you to use this information to find the right direction for your business and reach your goals more quickly!

Image Credit:

mangpor_2004/Getty Images

Ed Castro
Internet marketing has been a passion of mine since I began working towards my B.A. in Business Administration at CSUF. My clients have had different objectives ranging from B2B lead generation, B2C lead generation, eCommerce and brand awareness to under performing SEM accounts, data analysis and marketing strategy issues. During my time as a consultant I have come across a wide range of issues plaguing companies and the SEM industry alike such as market budget issues, platform limitations, SEM platform policy problems and more. As a result, I have decided to jot down my thoughts in opinion articles that give my perspective on the state of the industry.