For years now, digital advertising has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Online advertising has beaten analysts’ predictions year after year going back to 2000. It now makes up a tremendous share of overall advertising – 64.4% of the total global spend of $763 billion that’s expected in 2022.
Many of the biggest drivers of this growth are usual suspects like Facebook and Google. In 2020, nearly 98% of all Facebook revenue came from advertising. Its total revenue now stands around $117 billion.
Advertising accounts for the majority of revenue at Google, too, topping $134 billion in 2019. Each one of the Big G’s 1.2 trillion annual searches has the potential to yield revenue from its millions of advertisers.
For small and mid-sized Florida businesses, online advertising has always been a tempting proposition. It gives new ventures the opportunity to drive immediate traffic to their websites. That can yield customer feedback and accelerate the process of introducing innovative products and services.
But online advertising also conceals some pitfalls of its own.
Many a Central Florida entrepreneur has lost hundreds or even thousands of dollars after being sent a voucher for free Google Ads credit in the mail. Google’s sanguine approach to promoting its ad platform conceals just how complicated it can be and how challenging it is to craft profitable ads.
For all the businesses achieving success through Google or Facebook advertising, many are failing. And trends are already in motion that will change the marketing/advertising mix in Central Florida – perhaps forever. The time to rethink your strategy is now.
Digital Marketing vs. Online Advertising: A Quick Primer
Marketing and advertising are allied fields – neither can reach its highest heights without the other. In the past, though, the two have often been bricked up in competing silos. An increased marketing budget often came at the expense of the advertising team and vice versa.
Central Florida entrepreneurs think differently, though, and they know marketing and advertising both have a place at the table. In case the whirlwind conversations around the two have your head spinning, let’s use the following as working definitions:
- Advertising introduces potential customers to your offerings through paid placements. These placements may be on website sidebars on Google or Facebook, show up between videos on YouTube, or appear within any sort of traditional media.
- Marketing aims to attract prospects to your brand, convert them into leads, and convert those leads into customers, usually by providing helpful and informative content that educates along the different steps of the buyer’s decision-making process (usually called “the buyer journey.”)
In a nutshell, advertising can deliver immediate attention to whatever it is you want people to know – but ads that don’t offer ROI are pure overhead. And even if your ads are effective, you’ll find yourself paying more and more for them over time. The minute you turn off the tap of money, the ads disappear.
Marketing, on the other hand, is a slow and steady approach that yields gradually growing results. The outcome of good marketing can develop into a steep competitive advantage, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. In general, it takes digital marketing campaigns about three months to start showing results.
2022 Marks a Watershed Moment for Advertising vs. Marketing
In the past, businesses with strong cash flow would tend to focus on advertising first. Marketing could easily fall to a second- or third-place consideration. This was especially true prior to 2019 when many companies relied on annual industry events to source new business.
The first tectonic shift was the loss of those familiar events.
Over the last two years, industries transformed – and so did consumer preferences. Customers who’d never considered buying online before were logging on in droves to make big purchases. Just think about how, practically overnight, buyers jumped to close on homes they had never set foot in!
No matter what customers you serve, they’re more online than ever.
That dovetails with a big pivot away from advertising and toward marketing. Many consumers now look at advertising as interruptive and unwanted. On the other hand, marketing materials help them to solve problems and answer pressing questions – especially in conjunction with an online search.
Still, lots of Central Florida businesses continue to make bets on advertising, both traditional and digital. But offline advertising through newspapers and billboards has offered reduced returns for years. Now, digital advertising may be about to follow suit. It can still be effective, but its use cases are shrinking.
Digital advertising isn’t going anywhere, but it’s changing in ways that will benefit the biggest advertisers – those who have millions to spend on “brand awareness” campaigns that don’t need to produce sales results. At the same time, smaller businesses may be forced out.
Let’s zero in on those changes, where they’re coming from, and what they mean:
1. Digital Advertising Is Growing More Precarious for Central Florida Businesses
Google, Facebook (now “Meta”), and the Apple ecosystem make up the majority of today’s digital marketing. That also includes properties owned by those companies – for example, Google owns YouTube, which is the second-largest search engine in the world by most measures.
In a market climate where a few big actors set the rules, everyone else can find themselves scrambling to keep up. Many Central Florida businesses are discovering that the average cost of their ads is rising fast. Likewise, the effort and precision necessary to create platform-compliant ads are skyrocketing.
- In 2021, Facebook saw a 61% YOY increase in ad prices
- Google saw its average search ad cost per click rise 14%
- Platforms like TikTok and Amazon also logged increases
Google in particular is notorious for penalizing businesses whose ads don’t perform. That can lead to a spiral where you end up paying more and more for less and less until you’re forced off the platform.
2. Social Media Platforms Are Reducing Value to Drive Brands to Advertising
It wasn’t that long ago when social media was simple: Users saw posts from the people and pages they followed in the actual order they were made. This chronological approach was intuitive and helped the average user stay aware of what was going on with their friends, family, and favorite brands.
These days, social media algorithms pick and choose which content users will see based on predictions about what will keep people logged in the longest. Facebook and others have been accused of going to extremes, highlighting controversial and polarizing content in the name of profit.
Every time Facebook rearranges posts to show whatever it prefers, it means organic reach – your ability to post a message and have your followers see it – goes down. In fact, organic reach has been declining for years and is all but gone: It currently stands at about 5%.
That means if you have 1,000 followers, you’ll be lucky if 50 of them see what you have to say. That’s despite the fact they followed you and showed interest in your content.
The goal is obvious: Drive brands to advertising one way or another. As companies do their best to adapt to the Facebook “new normal,” their increased ad activity drives up costs for everybody.
There’s another factor here easy to overlook: If you can’t communicate directly with your followers, you can’t deepen the relationships you already have. That can make social media platforms as a whole much less inviting, even if you plan to steer clear of their “pay to play” business model.
Individuals, as well as businesses, are re-evaluating their relationship with the big platforms that control so much of today’s advertising spend. The core reasons so many were attracted to social media in the first place are evaporating, so there are fewer local customers to see those more pricey ads!
3. More Customers Are Unilaterally Opting Out of Online Ads
“It’s not that people don’t like ads – they just don’t like irrelevant ads.”
This ad industry mantra has been around a long time, but recent trends challenge it like never before.
An astonishing 42.7% of internet users worldwide report using browser-based software plugins to make ads disappear from their online experience. That includes about 27% of American internet users aged between 16 and 64 years old. Ad blocking is now common on mobile devices, too.
Yes, ad blocking is a lot more common among the younger set – it balloons to 46.2% of those between 16 and 24. But even if they aren’t your customers today, they will be in the fullness of time. And they’re speaking out in one voice to say that, actually, they don’t like ads.
There’s a strange silver lining of a sort to this news: People who are proactively opting out of ads were unlikely to respond to them in the first place. Because software completely blots the ads out of a page, they never load. That means that, as the advertiser, you never pay for those particular ads.
Instead, they are shown to the next qualified audience member who isn’t blocking them.
Shuffling advertisements from one person to the next isn’t exactly an “adpocalypse” that should drive you away. But it speaks to something important among younger consumers: They don’t consider ads a fair use of their time, but they are willing to engage with marketing content they consent to receive.
The concept of consent-based marketing is behind some of the most powerful marketing techniques and campaigns available today. For instance, current regulations require consumers to affirmatively opt in to email marketing, yet email marketing has a spectacular ROI of more than $30 for every $1 spent.
Clearly, a little extra consent doesn’t blunt the power of email marketing – it adds to it.
4. To Offer Real ROI, Advertising Must Be Backed by Solid Marketing
The signs are clear: We are in the midst of a marketing renaissance.
Average consumers are ready to make big, complex purchases online. They are embracing their power and using resources like Google to do their own product research at their own pace.
Increasingly, that includes tuning out unwanted advertisements … or simply opting out, which has never been possible before. At the same time, the very same platforms that defined modern digital advertising are making it more hostile to consumers and small businesses alike.
Advertising can still deliver, but it needs to be used judiciously.
All too many Central Florida entrepreneurs have faced disaster when they put advertising ahead of their marketing. Hoping to leverage the promise of instant traffic, they sent prospects to a website that just wasn’t ready to service them. That’s all cost, no benefit.
In the end, “advertising vs. marketing” is the wrong way to look at things. Marketing and advertising must work together. When your website is prepared with a base of useful marketing content aligned with your audience’s needs, advertising can direct the attention of ideal customers like nothing else.
It empowers you to introduce new products and services, drive interest in your popular offerings, and spotlight content that helps you reach the market position you envision. But the DIY days are over: All modern ad platforms are built on the assumption you’re going to fail.
You need an ally: A Central Florida marketing agency with a proven track record.
In 2022 and Beyond, It’s Time to Switch Up Your Marketing and Advertising Mix
If either of these scenarios applies to you, it’s time to apply some fresh thinking:
You’ve Been Doing Advertising with No Marketing
Warning signs are flashing “danger!” for Central Florida businesses that rely heavily on advertising.
It’s often difficult to track and measure results from traditional advertising, while digital advertising now requires a comprehensive body of expertise. As standards continue to change, Central Florida firms can find themselves stuck in the mud, suddenly losing money on ads that were profitable before.
It’s essential to review all your ad placements, see how they’ve performed over the last six months, and make targeted cuts in underperforming areas. That frees up resources you can use to take a balanced approach to advertising vs. marketing, creating more marketing resources every month.
Lean in on marketing and you can efficiently hedge your bets against an unfriendly advertising climate. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be getting additional value from targeted search traffic reaching your website. All in all, that traffic is less expensive than paid placements and often converts better.
You’ve Been Doing Marketing with No Advertising
If ads have never been a significant part of your mix, now’s the time to give them a try.
It may seem counterintuitive, but marketing-driven organizations have the best chance to “fail fast,” iterate, and reach a point where digital ads produce results. With the benefit of established marketing processes and collateral, it’s easier to find the right ad-content fit to capture your audience’s attention.
Before any online advertising initiative, make sure you have a clear picture of the customers you want to reach, ideally with a formal written buyer persona. Verify that they’re active on the platform you wish to use and that the available targeting options are granular enough to identify them.
And after you’ve pre-planned and checked your assumptions, contact a Florida marketing agency.
Remember: Many ad platforms will penalize you for what you don’t know. “Quality” criteria varies from one platform to another, and it may take months to erase the effects of a few early misadventures.
New York Ave Takes the Mystery Out of Digital Marketing and Advertising
“Advertising vs. marketing” is over – now the question is: How can you get the most from both?
At New York Ave, we support Central Florida business owners in reaching their goals and exceeding their expectations. How? By using marketing and advertising in tandem to do what each one does best.
Over years of success with hundreds of companies in dozens of industries, our team has helped establish the best practices around digital marketing in Central Florida. We learn about your unique needs and fashion a strategy that connects you with the people who can move your enterprise forward.
Contact us today to find out more or get started with agency-driven digital marketing.