We sat down with Ardent’s Director of Digital Marketing, James Canington, to get the 4-1-1 on digital ads. Check out what he has to say below.

Who should do it? What industries/sectors/verticals benefit?

Online advertising can be implemented by any company. If advertising works for your business, digital advertising should be a predominant piece of it.

What purposes does it serve?

The whole purpose of a digital ad is to get them to click or call or do an action that’s going to ultimately make a dollar, to make the ad spend profitable.

What are the nuances of digital marketing? How is it different from other advertising?

It’s different in the sense that it usually costs less…usually costs significantly less. The ability to track the success of the ad is a thousand times better than a billboard or a television commercial. So you can look at your spend, depending on how many people you want to see it, the options of who sees it, the time they see it… It gives you a more efficient way to spend your money to reach the people you want to reach.

What role does social media play?

Social media can make your digital ad spend go a lot further if you create ads that are engaging or exciting — like when people go online to watch a Super Bowl commercial. If you create ads that are entertaining and that people share, the ad dollar goes a lot further because it gets seen by people you didn’t pay to have see it.

Are banner ads dead?

It depends on what you’re expecting to get out of banner ads. If you’re expecting to get sales out of banner ads, I would say that’s pretty much dead. But if you’re looking to get brand recognition and people recognizing your name, I think banner ads should be a piece, but a small piece, of your marketing budget.

What happened to organic reach?

Organic reach on social media is not something that can be counted on. You can still hope for it and play to it, but don’t base your business on it. Organic reach can be targeted in the sense that you have to make something creative that people will share. You cannot count on Facebook or Google or really any search engine to give you organic reach. You have to create something people share for you, and that’s the only way to get real organic reach. It’s unpredictable.

Why do pay per click (PPC) prices vary?

They vary based on the number of people targeting that customer and the number of people targeting those keywords. It’s an auction based system. When you have a bunch of people bidding on anything of value, the price is going to go up. It’s supply and demand.

What role do keywords play?

Keywords don’t play as much of a role as they used to, but they’re a jumping off point.

What are the rules for Google Adwords campaigns?

Google has rebranded their ads, so now it’s Google Ads. Text based ads have limitations as far as the kind of words you use. There are limitations on using words like “free” or capitalizing all the words. There’s a limitation on the number of characters in the ad copy. There are trigger words that Google considers “hype” and they don’t want you to hype. If there’s any hate language, they’ll probably ding you for that. Basically if your ad campaigns just tell about who you are and what you do within the character limitations, you’ll be fine.

What would a “ding” look like?

They would tell you the ad is not approved and ask you to change it.

What are the rules for Facebook Ads?

Facebook ads are probably a little more under scrutiny right now. You can get dinged for doing anything political. Now Facebook has different ways they ding you. They’ll either disapprove the ad and never show it, or they’ll take your money and just show it to very few people. There are character rules and image rules. You can’t show before and after pictures of somebody losing weight. You can’t show anything really body image oriented. The same with hate-filled stuff. You can’t sell drug paraphernalia on Facebook, but you can sell pharmaceuticals.

What other online advertising opportunities exist outside of Facebook and Google?

There are other social networks such as Pinterest or LinkedIn, Reddit. There are things like Taboola and Outbrain that are network driven, so they’re more native ads. They’re more of a branding play to where you get a lot of views (a lot of people see it) for a pretty good dollar amount. As far as these ad networks, you get on all these popular sites and when your ad is on a site like Yahoo! Or the Drudge Report it’s like having your TV commercial on ABC. It gives your brand recognition and credibility because people don’t realize how easy it is to get on those things.

How do you determine a digital ad strategy? How do you know when to change it?

There are standard operating procedures as far as the strategy. There are things that work. We’re basically trying to get a message in front of the right people that are looking for that product at the right time and hopefully at the right price. Because of the data the networks have, they know who’s looking for what and so it’s pretty easy to determine when is the best possible time to get your message in front of that custom audience. Then we look at the data and see if the ads are doing what we want. If they’re not, then we change, adjust, and tweak it to get the numbers up.

What’s a good starting budget for ad spend for a small business?

Whatever you can spend. It depends on the network. Facebook you can start for as low as $5 a day. Google will be a lot more expensive than that. The ad spend will determine how broad the strategy can be.

Who sees ads? How do you know?

Most likely the people who see the ads are the ones that we’re targeting, in the demographic we’re going for. The targeting is either targeting with keywords or targeting with the demographic. We know because Facebook and Google tell us and we trust them… hahaha.

What’s considered a good click-through rate?

Generally speaking, 1% click-through rate on Facebook is a good goal to hit and 2% on Google Ads for the text ads.

What permissible designs or images are known to be scroll stoppers?

Out of the ordinary photos people don’t see everyday. High contrast photos.

Advice for newbies?

Read a lot of blogs, because the digital marketing industry is changing every day.

What else would you like to tell readers?

We talked mostly about the ad part of advertising campaigns. We haven’t yet addressed what happens after you click the ad. After the ad is clicked, it starts a whole new process as far as getting them to a page that tells them what to do. So there’s the click from the ad to the landing page where there’s a buy button that takes the customer to the checkout or the shopping cart and then to gets them to enter an address of where to send the purchase or an email address to sign up for an email list. That’s the whole process, and each part has to be scrutinized and checked and optimized to make sure we’re making it as easy and frictionless as possible for customers. That’s where it all gets complicated.