Picking a Digital Ad Platform for Small Businesses
What Ad Platform is the Best for Small Businesses
There is no best ad platform, only platforms with different audience intent, reach, demographics, and interests. YOUR best platform is a combination of many different factors, but chiefly, audience intent.
It's all About Your Audience Intent
When considering which platform is best for your initial ad dollars, the biggest consideration should be what the intent is inherent in the audience of that platform. Are they there to relax and scroll? Is the audience there to find an answer to a problem? Perhaps the audience is there to engage with their favorite personalities and brands?
Google Search is an example of an ad platform with a lot of built in audience intent to buy. People searching for "Accountant near me" are probably looking for an accountant...near them. When they are on the Google Search platform they are looking for answers to specific questions and are likely to consider payment for them. This makes Google Search an ideal candidate for businesses that provide an important service that many businesses or individuals ask about.
Facebook/Instagram is where people go to relax and absentmindedly scroll through while catching up with their favorite influencers or brands. Facebook is all about fans and Instagram is all about personalities. If your business builds a community of fans and then leverages them for repeat customers or to expand your reach, Facebook/Instagram is a good candidate. An example of a business that might excel on this platform would be fun and non-emergency services like spas, fan based businesses like video games and restaurants, or even repeat sale retail stores like cannabis dispensaries.
Audience Intent is Reflected in your Business Ad Strategy
When you are writing out your business ad strategy, the audience intent of your best customers should be reflected in every part of your strategy; starting with ad platform and moving all the way down through ad copy and re targeting techniques.
How Ad Platform fits in to the Business Ad Strategy
The question might now be asked, how important is the ad platform in the larger scope of the entire ad strategy?
Who & Where are your Best Customers? Second Best? Third Best?
A large consideration in building your ad strategy (and consequentially the platforms you should focus on) is who are your best customers and where do they spend their time?
Start by segmenting out your customers into 1st Best, 2nd Best, and 3rd Best.
Let's say you are selling auto insurance. You might come up with a segmentation like this.
Who - Drivers who have recently lost their insurance or are actively looking for new insurance.
Where - If they are trying to replace car insurance they are likely to be searching for alternatives. I might want to priority a platform where searching for an answer is built into the audience intent. Maybe Google Search to start!
Who - Drivers who have recently been in an accident and have seen their rates increase.
Where - Drivers who have recently been in an accident are probably best found to be on the road. There is very little direct data of recent crashes that are not a pain to discover, so a wide net would be necessary to find these drivers. I would be thinking of Billboards around high traffic areas.
Who - Younger drivers who are likely to be leaving their parents insurance soon.
Where - Young anythings are likely to be found scrolling through Facebook or looking at new cars on some social media page or another. I would be looking at Facebook/Instagram using demographics to keep the age where I want it and perhaps some interest in popular "Coming of age" categories to help find those who are moving out or becoming more individualistic.
What is the "Asking Price" of your Product or Service?
Asking price has a huge impact on building out your ad strategy and picking a platform. Facebook is often better for low price impulse buys or gathering leads that will be nurtured through other strategies before a BIG price point. Google Search often performs well for services with high price tags which require a lot of built-in purchase intent to justify the high cost per Click.
The costlier the product or service, the more intent is needed to get the purchase. Intent can be part of the platform or can be increased through repeated touchpoints.
Measuring Ad Platform Results
You'll want to consider how you plan to measure the results of your ad platform prior to putting forward your investment. Paying for ads loses a lot of value if you can not determine when things are working or when it's time to pull your budget and reallocate.
Finding an Ad Platform Built for Your KPI
Certain ad platforms are focused around different key performing indexes that can help influence your decision on your best starting platform. Google YouTube ads, for example, prioritize a pay per view strategy. Although you can track purchases, conversions, watch time and other things through the platform, the setup of the ads work best when your goal is to land an ad in front of your target audience, an impression.
Facebook offers campaigns that focus on different objective but the by far most efficient ones historically have been campaigns that end up in a conversion, often a lead, called cost per lead campaigns. This would specifically target sign ups, trial accounts, newsletters, and other such items.
Most platforms specialize into a specific type of KPI goal that they seem to excel at. Take this into consideration when picking your initial ad platform.
Ads That Scale
Finally, you'll want to ensure that whatever platform you choose has room to grow. If you find your audiences are small, you might expect to run through them very rapidly and your audience will begin to be displeased upon seeing your ads. This could lead to higher costs per desired action and reduce the profitability of your ad account.
You'll want to explore the audiences, search terms, or interests you wish to target prior to committing your investment to any particular platform. Make sure there is room to grow your account and increase your profits.