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When you type in “online advertising options” in Google, you’ll get a search results page that lists 285,000,000 results (delivered in an impressive 0.69 seconds). Everyone offers ad options now; Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and a growing list of websites will all gladly take your money in exchange for showing your name and message.   It’s all a bit like a buffet. You walk in the door, get a table, and then your eyes bulge out of your head at the dizzying array of options in front of you. Which do you try first? Maybe some of this, some of that, oh and you don’t want to forget some of this other thing as well. Before you know it, you’re full, both of food that is terrible for you and regret.   The point is, successful online advertising is all about choosing the right channels and creating a strategic plan. Why? Because you don’t want to hit the end of a month and feel regret creep in when you’ve spent $1,000 without generating a single lead or selling one product.   If you’re just dipping a toe into the waters of online advertising, there are certain platforms where you should focus your effort and available budget. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for success, but rather choose the right channel(s) to focus on and be smart with the budget you have available.   Facebook Advertising Advertising on the world’s largest social network can be very valuable if done correctly. If you’re just starting out, putting a small budget ($25-50 per month) toward ads to grow your page is a good place to begin. After that, specific ads should be targeted to causes, products or services on your website or awesome content you are creating and posting.   Pros: Ads on Facebook have the lowest cost per 1,000 impressions among any online advertising channel. You can also be very specific as to who you are targeting, and video and images can be used to enhance your ads.   Cons: Increasingly more difficult to get reach without paying for it. Also, Facebook’s strict ad guidelines are a popular source of frustration among marketers and small business owners (20 percent text rule, anyone?).   Google AdWords The starting point for most online advertising campaigns, Google AdWords allows users to put the full power of Google’s data to their use. This includes standards such as search and display advertising, but also video advertising, retargeting (ads from sites you’ve recently visited “following” you) and more. It can be used to increase brand awareness, generate leads or boost online sales.   Pros: Seemingly endless ways to reach your target audience through display, search, video and retargeting ads. Plus, 65 percent of searches in the United States are done through Google. It also doesn’t take a huge budget to make an impact.   Cons: Being fluent in and understanding AdWords requires not only certification through Google, but practical experience managing campaigns. It can be easy to get lost in all of the data the platform provides.   Twitter Advertising While lagging behind Facebook in features, Twitter’s advertising platforms has taken great strides in the last year to become more relevant for marketers. It’s a great secondary or tertiary advertising medium for business with established Twitter accounts that are posting and interacting on a daily basis.   Pros: Ads are categorized by interests, allowing them to show up when most appropriate in feed content and in searches. They are also easy to interact with; they can be re-tweeted, replied to or favorited.   Cons: Twitter is very much a real-time social media platform; when breaking news hits, it’s a great resource. That being said, it can be a very unfriendly place for ads. An ill-timed ad that’s out of context is not only ignored, but could also be the source of trouble or ridicule.     Instagram Advertising Instagram has been one of the fastest growing social media platforms over the past year and a half. Why? It’s based around photos and short videos, and incorporates all the social sharing and integration a social platform could need. It has also recently opened itself up to advertising. If you’re looking to make a splash, focus on quality visuals over quantity.   Pros: Since it is owned by Facebook, Instagram uses all of the same third-party data to help you target ads to the right set of users. Also, built in call-to-actions put purpose behind your ad aside from just being out there.   Cons: Instagram advertising is only available for certain business right now. Also, producing quality ads that are relevant is essential because of Instagram’s option for users to hide ads they don’t like. For some small businesses, this may mean Instagram is out for budgetary reasons.   Choose Wisely Just like food at a buffet, each online advertising option has its nutritional benefits and deficiencies. Choosing the right channel, budget and strategy can lead to success or feelings of regret.   Overwhelmed by online ads? Have no idea where to start? VGM Forbin is here to help! Get in touch with us today to start the conversation about your online marketing and advertising needs.

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