Posts in Digital Advertising
Big SEO For Small Businesses - Online Class!


Having a hard time mastering Search Engine Optimization? Not even sure what SEO is and how it will even help your business? We're so excited to announce enrollment is opening for the only SEO class you'll ever need.

In it we'll walk you through; what SEO can do for your business, understanding everything that goes into an SEO strategy, and how you can master it to drive more website traffic and more sales.

Everything you've ever needed to know about SEO and how to optimize it all in 15 easy to follow lessons that you can take in your own time and when it benefits you. Not sure you need this class? Let us tell you why you do:

  • 70% of links search users click on are organic.
  • When consumers are exposed to both search and social media influences by a brand, their overall search click-thru-rate went up by 94%.
  • The #1 driver to websites is search, beating out social media by more than 300%.
  • SEO Leads have a 14.6% close rate, while leads from advertising have a 1.7% close rate.*

*Stats courtesy of Search Engine Journal

What You'll Learn

Big SEO For Small Businesses, is a 15 module course designed to walk you through everything you need to create a comprehensive SEO strategy that will drive more traffic to your website and help convert that traffic into sales.  Learn More!

What is SOV? - Display Advertising 101 pt. 2 of 2

Ahh, it's Wednesday again and that means another riveting edition of the Hub Digital Newsletter!

Listen - I know this stuff isn't fun. I get it. If you had wanted to learn about marketing, you would have gone to school for it. But here's the deal. You can't do the fun stuff, if you don't put in the marketing work. I know your passion is taking pictures, selling clothes, styling hair, or whatever else you decided to open your business around. But you can't continue to do that if no one is giving you money for it. How do you get money for it? You drive sales through marketing.


Now yes, you can absolutely hire someone to do this for you (hence how I have a job). But I subscribe to the idea that even if I hire someone to do a job for me, I want to at least know what's going on. There's so much more power in knowledge and even if I'm not the one installing my cable box, it's important for me to be able to understand what the tech is doing with all those wires.

With that said, today we're moving on to Part. 2 in our Display Advertising 101 series. Last week we we discussed some more general display advertising terms. Today we're diving in to different buying philosophies and where your ad is going to appear on a website. Let's do this!

  • CPM - This stands for your Cost Per Thousand Impressions. When you purchase on a CPM basis you're buying impressions (or the number of times your ad is going to be seen, not necessarily clicked on). As an example, if you're buying an ad with a $10 CPM, you're paying $10 to reach 1,000 people. What is a good CPM? That's a little harder to define. Some sites state the national average CPM at around $1.90 while others go as high as $10.40. To me, a "good" CPM depends on the audience. Smaller, local sites may have CPM's much higher in the $10-$15 range. However, if you're a local business, you're reaching a much more targeted demographic. While you may be paying more to reach the same number of people, those people are much more likely to convert to sales. Here's my general rule of thumb. For large, bulk, national buys look for a CPM below $5. For anything local expect to pay around $10. However, use your gut here and weigh the importance of the audience you're reaching when considering CPM.
  • Pay-Per-Click - Instead of buying impressions, another pay you can purchase  ads is by Pay-Per-Click or PPC. With PPC ads you are only charged when someone actually clicks on your ad. This is usually seen in Paid Search platforms like Google Adwords. Now, you're probably saying, of course I only want to pay when someone clicks on my ad! Why wouldn't I choose to pay this way!? You're right, in some cases you can get more for less money with PPC ads. However, in some cases you won't. With PPC ads, you can't control how many impressions you get, and impressions are valuable. Remember last week how we talked about how low click-thru rates actually are, but how important impressions are for branding even if someone doesn't click? Well with PPC ads you can't control those. Let's say you want to spend $5 per day and you're bidding $1 per click. That means it takes 5 clicks before your daily budget runs out. Well for some reason your ad is having a really good day and you get those 5 clicks in only 50 impressions. While it's great that your ad is performing so well with clicks, you just paid $5 to get your ad seen only 50 times. Yes, 5 people clicked thru today, but you missed out on hundreds of people who would have seen your brand and may have purchased in the future. The other thing you can't control is who is clicking on your ads. Sometimes competitors can have this nasty habit of going through and clicking on ads to run up budget. Currently the national average for PPC ads is trending at about $1.58 per click. For a qualified lead this is nothing, but for a competitor who's just clicking away with no intention to buy this can add up fast.
  • SOV - The final way you can purchase ads is by SOV or Share-of-Voice. SOV means you're buying a percentage (or share) of the total number of impressions a site gets on monthly basis for a flat rate. As an example, any website's traffic will vary day to day. However, looking at the history of a particluar site you can see that on average this website has about 10,000 impressions per month (give or take a few depending on what's going on that month). You're going to purchase an ad for $200 per month for a 25% share of those impressions. That means for $200 you can expect about 2,500 impressions per month. A couple great things about SOV. The first is that you are paying a flat rate month after month. You know exactly what you're spending on this ad and don't have to worry about those costs skyrocketing if impressions go up. Speaking of impressions going up, if the site is having a great month you could score with a ton of extra impressions at no added cost for you. Just be aware that with good months comes bad months. Just like you won't pay more for a spike in impressions, If there is a downshift in impressions for the month, your rate won't change to reflect that.

    Now that you know the different ways you can purchase an ad, let's start talking about how to know where your ad is going to appear on a website.
  • ROS - ROS stands for Run-of-Site.  When you purchase an ROS ad you've purchased the same ad position on EVERY page of a website. This means that your ad will appear next to all pages and all content.
  • Sponsorship - Sponsorship ads are the exact opposite of ROS ads. Instead of appearing throughout the entire site, your ad is "sponsoring" one particular section. This is good if you're trying to reach a very targeted audience on a website. Real Estate agents for example may want to sponsor the "Homes" section on a news site as they are more likely to reach people interested in buying or selling a home than they would on on the "Politics" section.
  • Fold - This comes from an old newspaper term where "the fold" referred to a literal fold in the paper. In digital terms "the fold" refers to that invisible line that separates what is immediately visible to an audience as soon as a website loads from what isn't. All that content that appears right away without have to scroll or move around the screen is considered "Above-the-fold" while the content that appears after you scroll down is called "Below-the-fold". Naturally, above-the-fold ads usually cost more money as they load right in the reader's line of sight without them have to work for it. However, something to keep in mind is that some below-the-fold ads could be hidden gems. Think about your own reading behavior when you go to a news site or blog. You're there to read articles, not just site at the top of the page, right? You usually have to scroll down to read the article, and because it takes some time to read you're going to sit with that part of the page open for a little while. When buying ads on a blog or news site, consider below-the-fold ads that sit right next to the content where readers are spending all their time. Not only will your ad get more screen time, but it will most likely cost you less as well.

Well there you have it! You made it through all the boring stuff and technical terms. But now you can walk into any sales meeting and leave knowing what you're buying is going to help your business online. Good luck out there and I'll see you back here next week!

What Exactly Does "Hit" Mean? - Display Advertising 101 pt. 1 of 2

Being a business owner, you've most likely fielded a few calls from sales rep looking to get you to buy advertising from them. In an effort to stay open minded about growing your business and trying new things, you agree to schedule an appointment with that cool new website. On the day of the meeting, the sales rep walks in and starts throwing around terms like "hits", "UVs" and "CTRs" which leaves you more confused than before the meeting started. Sure the numbers sound impressive, but this all new for you. How are you supposed to be really sure you're getting a good deal if you don't even know what they're talking about? Lucky for you I'm here to break down all these digital terms, as well as give you some insider tips to buying online advertising I picked up from my years as a digital sales rep. You can thank me later.

  • Banner Ad - Display advertising on a website. This does NOT just refer to that long thin banner across the top of a website. It encompasses ALL different size and shape display ads on a website.

  • Paid Search - The purchase of keywords or phrases in an effort to show up #1 in search. These look like regular search results but have a small little box that says "AD" next to them. Typically you would place bids on keywords and would be charged when someone clicks on your ad. These can be very effective (since you're reaching people specifically searching for your product or service), however, be careful of spam bots or competition who may click on your ad multiple times in an effort to cost you money without generating any leads. The most used paid search option is Google Adwords. This is not to be confused with display advertising (see banner Ad above)

  • Hit - A single file or picture on a website that is delivered to a web server every time a page is visited. As an example, a single page on a website may have 10 pictures. Every time one person visits that page it counts for 11 hits (10 for the pictures and 1 for the HTML file of the actual page). This is the MOST overused and misleading term used by online sales reps. They may tell you their website gets over 10,000 "hits" per month. To someone who doesn't know better this is very impressive. However, each page of their website could have 20 different files on it (pictures, tables, javascript files, etc.) That means that "10,000 hits" is really only about 500 visitors came to the site. There is a HUGE difference in value there so know that you're in the know, don't let them fool you!

  • Impressions - How many times your ad was seen. This is one way you can track how your ad is performing. Knowing the number of visitors to a site is great, but what good does that do you if your ad isn't being shown to them? 

  • UV/Unique Visitor - One computer visiting the site one time during a specific time period. Asking your sales rep how many Unique Visitors their site gets in a month is a great idea. You want to make sure there is a good mix of new visitors and returning visitors. The Unique Visitor number is going to tell you that. A site could have 5,000 visits per month but could only have 1,000 Unique Visitors. While it's great that those 1,000 people are coming back to the site up to 5 times per month (more chances to convert), eventually advertising to the same people month after month will grow tiring for both your brand and the sites viewers.

  • CTR/Click-thru Rate - Your percentage of clicks vs. impressions. This is something that can be tricky to use to tell if your ad is working. As a general rule of thumb, people don't click on online ads, unless there is a really great offer that draws them in.  This doesn't mean online advertising isn't worth it! Just because someone didn't click on your ad, doesn't mean it didn't make an impression on them and stay with them long after they left that website. As a rule of thumb national average click thru rate is only .06%. This means that for every 100 people seeing your ad, you can expect only 6 of them to click thru. As long as your ad is performing right around that national average, don't get discouraged or place too much emphasis on this.

  • Branding - An advertising campaign based on simply putting yourself in-front of a community or target market. This campaign aims to show people your colors, logos, products and/or services who may not already know what you do. This does not include any offers or discounts.

  • Offer Based - An ad that includes an offer or discount in an effort to drive quick sales.

  • Lead Generation - A campaign specifically targeted to getting leads or retaining a customer's information. Usually offers a coupon code, free information, or give-a-way in exchange for contact information for follow up later.

Hopefully these have helped you begin to make sense of the digital advertising world. Make sure you come back next week as I'm breaking down even MORE terms, and giving you tips specifically related to different buying philosophies and where on a website you'll want to be. See you next week!

What does online advertising actually do?

As a former advertising sales rep, and current champion of digital for small businesses, I am constantly getting questioned on what online advertising actually does. I consistently hear things like "I put an ad online and didn't get one phone call" or "How do I know if this is really working?"

Since the digital environment entered the advertising playing field, the way marketers and small business owners quantify a return on their investment (ROI) has changed. No longer can you place an ad on a website (or in any other passive medium like radio, TV, print, etc) and expect the phone to start ringing or people to start walking through the door the next day. Consumers are getting smarter about their purchases. They understand the steps to take to see if you really do have the best product available, and will no longer take your word for.

Search engine giants like Google, Bing and Yahoo, review platforms like Yelp, BBB and Angie's List, and social media endorsements from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have completely changed the game on how we consume products. We no longer wait to find out about new products through commercials or figure out how they work by visiting the store and asking an associate.  Interested in a new gaming console? Google your different options, visit the maker's website to learn the specifications and features of each console, check out some reviews from other purchasers, and hit up social media to ask your friends their opinions instantly. Then order it directly from the manufacturer to be shipped within the week. You didn't need to leaf through the papers for advertisements or ask the Best Buy associate how they work. 

Does this mean that advertising is useless? Not at all. How would you have known that you wanted to buy a gaming console if there weren't ads reminding you that you wanted one? If all your friends had Playstation, how would you know that Xbox was another option for you to play? Passive display advertising is all about branding a product or service in the minds of the consumer. Is it ultimately going to make their final decision? Probably not. But it reminds them you exist and are there to fill their need when they have it.  That is called branding. Staying relevant and consistent in the mind of the consumer. Keep repeating the word "branding" over and over again when looking at your display ad results!

So how do you make display advertising work for you? Don't just rely on it alone as a singular way to bring in business. Combining more aggressive strategies like social media marketing, blogging, lead generation outlets and referral programs can help you bring together all your efforts on a unified front. Make display advertising a piece of the puzzle, but know that you need to put some time and effort into creating content, getting reviews and promoting your brand on a variety of outlets to really have a strong presence online.

Also, learn to change your expectations of display ad's performance. Instead of focusing on how many clicks you get (National average click-thru rate on banner ads is only .05%!) look at how many impressions your ad is getting. These translate to real life people seeing your brand and the product or service you can offer them. While you may not feel the immediate effects of a sale, these impressions are valuable! They are chances for people to see your name and what you have to offer, who may not have ever heard of you before.

To feel even better about those impressions, find an outlet where you can target your ad by demographics and geographic location. Now you're not just getting people looking at your brand, but people even more likely to purchase from you. Knowing realistically what display advertising can do for you business will help you make better purchasing decisions, and feel better about spending your hard earned dollars.


Amy Levesque is a young professional in Rhode Island, digital marketing expert and owner of Hub Digital L.L.C. Hub Digital offers digital marketing services for small to medium size businesses ranging from SEO, social media marketing, blogging and consulting.