Ad Blockers Are Here to Stay

I’ve chosen not to wade into the waters of the ad blocking discussion until now because I didn’t know that I’d have anything to say that has not been said. I am not an online advertising expert, and was not sure what commentary I could provide that would help anyone.

But I’ve chosen to join the conversation here because there are far too many marketers, publishers, consumers and small business owners out there who either don’t think this issue is worth paying attention to, or are too confused by the flood of different messages contained in the articles written on this topic every day.

Ad Blockers are here to stay. That’s something we all must admit if we are even going to start having an intelligent discussion about the future of the internet.

Publishers and advertisers can complain all we want. That won’t change the facts. There is no going backwards.

Second, we must acknowledge that this was always going to happen. It’s amazing that it took this long for ad blocking to catch on at this level, sparking the kind of alarm it has.

Third, the sky is not falling. Doomsday predictions abound, with people calling for the death of online publishing, or the death of the internet as we know it. Those predictions are far-fetched attempts to draw in readers, truly click-bait at its worst.

The future of the internet will almost certainly look different, because that’s the nature of the technology. Publishers and advertisers alike must adapt to the world around us, and that means finding new, better ways of communicating with consumers and earning money to support our operations.

We are all consumers, even the publishers and advertisers that ad blocking hurts. We wear both hats, and we must be able to see the issue from both sides. Online ads are annoying. Not only that, they impede our ability to fully enjoy the internet by slowing it down or causing so much frustration that we give up.

Online advertising must get better. And ad blockers are going to help us get there, by creating a sense of urgency around the issue.

And in the end, we’ll all be better off for it. That doesn’t mean that each of us will survive. Some publishers may be forced to cut back or shut their doors completely. Some advertisers might lose their ability to grow their business effectively.

But just like in nature, the strong will survive, and likely thrive. And the global user experience will take a gigantic step forward.

It’s time to accept a new reality and move forward, not fight back.

3 Reasons People Don’t Click on Your Ad

You spend a lot of time and energy creating online ads to lure people to your website. And you likely also spend a lot of money to place those ads on websites where your potential customers are spending time. So why aren’t they clicking? Why aren’t you getting a lot more business? Where is the return on your investment?

The first place to look may be the ad itself. Here are three common flaws that leave your ads unclicked:

  1. You don’t tell me who you are. When people see an ad online, they ask themselves a couple of questions. It happens in an instant, but it happens. The questions are who are you and why should I care? The “who are you” part is a question that can be answered very simply. We need to see your logo, and if your company is well known that’s all it takes. If not, maybe a one line description of what you do.
  2. You don’t tell me why I should click. The “why should I care” part to that question is the entire purpose of the ad. If you’re targeting the right people, you should know exactly why they should care. And your headline and messaging should tell them exactly what you’re offering them. Is it a sale? Is it a product they need? Have they shopped from you before? Be specific about why they are seeing this ad and what they will get if they click on it.
  3. You don’t tell me to click. The call to action, CTA, is the most important part of an ad. Without one, you are leaving the potential customer to do some guesswork. Don’t assume people are going to click, tell them to. Give them a button and a reason – “Click here for more info”, or “Shop Now”. It’s that simple to add a call to action and increase the number of people who click through to your site.

What did I miss? Share your online advertising tips in the comments below.

5 Reasons Your Ad Isn’t Getting Clicked

Welcome to another edition of the “5 Reasons” blog series. This will be a weekly blog series, with a fresh post every Monday. Last week’s topic was “Five Reasons to Create a Google+ Page for your Business”.

This Week’s Topic = Five Reasons Your Ad Isn’t Getting Clicked

We’re talking about online ads here. And when you’re running online ads, the first big goal is to get a click. This click means that someone has interacted with your ad in some way. They like what they see enough to find out more. Success!

So what happens when you don’t get any clicks? Something is wrong.

Here are 5 reasons you might be getting any:

  1. Your ad does not stand out. Whether its text or display, an ad needs to stand out from the page it’s on in order to get clicked. This means stronger headlines, brighter colors, and a clear message.

  2. Your ad is not clear. Most times (I’ve seen contradictions) your ad will not get clicks if I can’t tell what it’s an ad for. It’s better to state clearly what the brand or product being advertised is, and leave the guessing games at home.

  3. There is no call to action. If you tell me to click, I’m more likely to click. That is a finding of many ad-related studies in the past year. Every ad should contain a call to action, telling me what to do next. “Click here for more info” would work well on any ad.

  4. Your ad is not getting seen. “Impressions” is a funny measurement. It means the ad was displayed on screen. It does not mean it was above the fold. Nor does it mean that the person looking at the page saw it. I think this is something that will change with technology in the coming years, but for now you’ll want to be vigilant and make sure your ad is not only being displayed, but being seen as much as possible.

  5. Your ad is in the wrong place. Not every site, not every search, not every user is right for you. Cheap impressions on the wrong site will never be better than expensive impressions on the right site. If you’re not getting clicks, try showing your ads in other channels.

As always, if you have your own tips, please include them in the comments below.

The Landing Page Handbook: Part 1

This is the first in a three-part blog series on creating a landing page. The goal of this series is to explore a few simple ways you can improve your advertising numbers by adjusting the web page that first respondents see and interact with. It’s a part of the advertising process that is completely measureable, and completely controllable, yet ignored or misunderstood by the majority of companies.

The landing page is vital. Too often it’s ignored, left the same as it’s always been for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s left out of the picture altogether.

What is a landing page? It’s the page someone lands on after clicking through an ad, or the page someone is directed to from a print or outdoor advertisement. It’s usually built separately from the main website to control the actions of the visitor.

Why use a landing page? Landing pages give us measureable and controllable places to send responders to our ads, and allow us to get the most bang for our advertising buck.

The goal of the landing page may be for the visitor to fill out a form, make a purchase, donate money, or take some other necessary action. If they take that action, we consider it a success. The goal when improving a landing page is to improve the percentage of visitors who take action, to improve the success rate.

The first tip is a simple one if you think like a consumer: create a seamless transition between the look and feel of the ad and the look and feel of the page.

If I click on an ad, and land on a page the looks different than the ad I clicked on, I’m confused. Whether I know it, or its subconscious, I see something that doesn’t make sense to me. Our brains create an expectation of where we’re about to end up when we click, and the closer the page gets to that expectation, the more at home we will feel.

If you have a general branding or design look on your marketing campaign, create a landing page that carries those same characteristics. Same colors, imagery, fonts, headlines.

You will create a feeling of comfort and trust among responders that will make them more likely to take action.

It’s easy to test. When you start a new campaign, create two landing pages. One that follows the old format you’ve used in the past, and one that’s modeled after the ads, and compare the success rates of both.

Later this week we will explore two other ways to improve your landing page performance.