Before you spend another dollar on advertising?

By Julia Keady

The fall of traditional advertising is making space for new mediums.

It used to be easy. You had a product, you figured out why other people wanted it and you told them about it through advertising in print, radio and television. There were clever people who helped you craft your message and you paid your money for space. At the very least a business had to be in the Yellow Pages, and the bigger ones went for bigger-budget media.

The unstoppable rise of online advertising

Then the internet happened and life got more complicated. In Australia and globally, advertising spend in traditional media has continued to fall, while online advertising is growing rapidly. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, online advertising spend has increased by 15 per cent over the last year and will exceed TV advertising for the first time ever.

By far the greatest growth sector was mobile advertising, with tablets (53 per cent) slightly outperforming smart phones (47 per cent). Online search and directories continue to be the largest and fastest-growing advertising medium, with display advertising and classifieds also growing strongly. Another strong growth trend is online video advertising (56 per cent growth).

What does this mean for small business?

It means that though traditional media is still here, and can generate returns, your customers are increasingly headed online. The growth of location-based advertising means that smartphones, tablets and wearable tech are increasingly going to be the way that people search for products. Added to that, more people than ever are accessing their media and entertainment through on-demand streaming and download services, which is seeing free-to-air audiences shrinking.

This is good news for small businesses, which can now advertise and communicate with their customers much more cheaply. For instance, Google Places for Business, Yahoo and other directories are increasingly competing with the Yellow Pages as the go-to medium for small business. The ability to list your business for free on the world's largest search and mobile platforms means that businesses can now easily be found by customers without having to pay for directory listings.

Wrapping your head around the details

Of course, this is also where it gets complicated. Social media, retargeted marketing, online display advertising, search engine optimisation, content marketing, video marketing, online network marketing, email marketing, blogs and location-based marketing are all things that businesses have to consider in their online advertising spend. There are no easy answers, and making these decisions requires research and old-fashioned trial and error, or hiring an expert in the field.

The basics still apply though. Find out who your customers are, what's important to them and what media they use. The advantage of online advertising is that you can usually measure the response far more effectively than with broadcast media, and then tailor your advertising accordingly.


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