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What Every Business Owner & CEO Needs to Know About Online Advertising in 2018

What did business owners dream of thirty years ago? Probably of finding more customers and increasing revenue like today’s business owners and CEOs.

But if they knew what was coming they would have probably wished of doing business in our current times. Today you can launch a new marketing campaign in a few hours and target customers that are ready to buy. If that isn’t a dream coming true, I don’t know what is.

Today’s Internet almost feels like a Marketing Wonderland. It sort of feels like as if some rules that used to apply to regular marketing like laws of physics, don’t apply anymore.

When having conversations with business owners and CEOs it always seems clear to me that they could benefit from a deeper familiarity with digital advertising; this is because in the right circumstances today’s online advertising platforms can be a very efficient low hanging fruit that can be picked to start driving revenue.

This article would like to offer an overview of the powerful tools available to businesses in 2018 and lift the veil on what digital marketers do to get brands in front of the right audience.

Google Ads

Previously known as AdWords, Google Ads recently completed its re-branding and face-lift and is still one of the most powerful advertising platforms, together with Bing and other smaller players. Google keeps innovating furiously around their advertising platform, adding new ad formats and audience targeting capabilities, yet still many people use Google Ads like it’s 1998.

Search Text Ads on Google

Everybody knows what these ads look like because you almost can’t search for anything anymore without one of these text ads appearing at the top and the bottom of organic search results.

The way you normally trigger these ads to appear is by matching the search keywords: you show ads for “running shoes” to people that search “running shoes”.

What most business owners still don’t realize is how powerful the targeting capabilities have gotten within Google Ads. Let’s just look at a couple of those.

Affinity Targeting

What if a customer wasn’t actively searching for “running shoes”. Could you possibly still target them? The answer is a big, loud, YES. As we go on living our lives we leave footprints about our long-time interest and short-term intent.

Say I’m a runner. I might not be actively researching new running shoes but I have in the past and still read running blogs, watch running videos on YouTube and use Google Fit and Strava to track my runs.

So, tracing the dots of my online activities, Google, Facebook and others put me in the bucket with other fellow runners, available for targeting to sell me running shoes and other sports gear I might need.

Intent targeting

Now let’s say that I’m thinking about buying a new car. I start googling for “new car models 2018” and, while reading an article I eye the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Beautiful car, plus we always had an Alfa in the family.

Now I go deeper with my research and watch a bunch of YouTube reviews about Alfa Stelvio and read a couple of articles.

As I start day-dreaming about driving a beautiful red Alfa Romeo, I begin researching for “Alfa Romeo Stelvio price” and “Alfa Romeo dealers San Francisco”. This is the time that Google starts seeing how serious I am about buying a new car.

Maybe I’ll keep researching more local car dealers and take my time to talk about it with my partner. The whole process might take me a month or so but I’m already showing a strong buying intent and will keep doing so for a bit longer. So Google puts me in one of their in-market audiences, available to target by other car dealers that sell Alfa Romeo or maybe someone trying to convince me to buy a Toyota SUV instead.

Google Ads Audience Targeting

Now this isn’t the only way to buy advertisement spots based on your demographic profile (income, job title, age, gender), behavioral profile or intent. As you roam the web loads of companies track your online footprint and classify your behaviors and interest in one bucket or another, more or less accurately.

If you’re curious of what one of the biggest companies in the business knows or assumes about you, you can take a look at the Oracle Data Cloud Registry.

Programmatic Display Ads

While Google and Facebook still account for about 60% of the market-share in online advertising, they clearly aren’t the only players in the business.

As the digital publishing world developed, solutions had to be created to make demand and offer meet on ad buying platforms that sold specific ad inventory.

This type of ad buying networks, known as programmatic ad platforms, allow you to target based on the online profile of your target audience and display ads to them anywhere (within their network of managed sites) the target person shows up online.

Programmatic Ads Audience


Now those of you that are on Facebook or Instagram know full well how the social network collects data on their profile: we literally just volunteer to tell them what we like. So the way you target people on Facebook is essentially by demographic (job title, age, language, etc…), interest, behavior or by similarity to other profiles by leveraging a powerful feature called lookalike audiences.

Facebook Audience


Once you meet some initial interest with people visiting your website or liking your page on Facebook you want to keep those potential customers warm. So all of these platforms now allow you to keep reminding your target audience of your products and services or maybe even just the content you publish on your blog. This is called retargeting and it normally materializes in those ads that stalk you everywhere you go.

Native Ads and Advertorials

As highly developed digital animals most of us have now contracted at least a mild case of banner blindness. So as marketers we evolve and adapt and come up with less intrusive (yeah, right!) ways to show you the information we need you to see. This is where native ads come in and show up mixed with other content on some publishers’ site.

CNN Outbrain Native Ads

Managed Placements

Most major publisher these days make their ad inventory available through programmatic ad platforms, yet reserve some of their best placements to be managed in-house. These are usually expensive but very visible spots on their pages that you can use to run large brand awareness campaigns that are usually the preferred way big companies use to burn through mountains of dollars in advertising budget while trying to stay top-of-mind to consumers.


Well, we hope this article will provide you better insight into what your business can leverage to meet new customers and retain or re-engage old ones.

If you have any questions you’re very welcome to schedule a call to discuss about how to reach your business growth goals.


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