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Digital for Dummies



Digital technology has invaded all facets of our lives and has spawned an entirely new and rapidly changing language. This is certainly true in the world of marketing. It may be your digital literacy is top notch, but everyone can probably remember at least one instance of feeling somewhat confused when hearing or seeing a new digital term. We thought you might be interested in reviewing some of the most important digital marketing terms to know in 2018:

1. Impressions

An impression is simply a view of your ad. It could be a banner ad, video ad, or text-ad. One view is equal to one impression.

  • Viewable Impressions (Or Viewability): A viewable impression is one that's visible to the user when a page loads.

When looking at an impression report from an agency or media partner, ask how many of the reported impressions were viewable. That will give you a better idea how your digital ads are performing.

2. Clicks

A click is just that: a click. Once a user sees your ad (logs an impression), they can click on it to take them to your landing page.

  • Click Rate: Indicates the number of times an advertisement banner was clicked on a website

  • Click-Through: Used to measure the success a website has in persuading a user to go to another site

3. Conversions

A conversion is an action that’s counted when someone interacts with your ad and then takes an action that you’ve defined as valuable to your business--such as an online purchase or a call to your business from a mobile phone. A conversion must happen after a click and is always more valuable than a click.

4. Cost per Thousand (CPM)

The Cost per Thousand refers to the number of impressions or viewers in thousands, regardless of whether each viewer clicks on the advertisement or not.

Many digital advertising companies’ rates are based on a CPM. For example, you could buy 10,000 impressions at a $5.00 CPM and it would cost $50.00.

If you’re entertaining a proposal that includes CPM rate, here are some guidelines for what is fair for each ad type:

  • Video Pre-Roll: $25 - $45/CPM – Based on length of ad and whether it can be skipped.

  • Display Ads: $5 - $25/CPM – Based on size of the ad and position on the website. Small ads at the bottom of a site are not worth as much as a large ad at the top of the site.

  • Mobile Specific Ads: $10 - $30/CPM – Based on ad size and position on the site. Also based on targeting options (discussed below).

There are many more ad types out there, but those are the most common and should give you a good basis to work with.

5. Cost per Click (CPC)

Cost per click (CPC) is a method websites use to bill based on the number of times a visitor clicks on an advertisement. It forces the advertiser to craft excellent ads that are worthy to be clicked on. It benefits both the advertiser and the platform.

CPC is often used when advertisers have a set daily budget. When the advertiser's budget is hit, the ad is removed from the rotation for the remainder of the billing period.

You could get a million impressions and not pay a dime, but you won’t receive any clicks. Also, you could create an amazing ad and blow through your budget in just a few days after only a few hundred impressions. That’s why you need to find the right balance between impressions and clicks.

6. Cost per Action (CPA)

Cost per action (CPA) is an online advertising marketing strategy that allows an advertiser to pay for a specified action from a prospective customer

Before you can figure this out, you need to assign a value to a conversion (action) the user takes on your website. A conversion just lets you know that someone took action on your site after they clicked an ad. There is value in knowing that, even if you don’t have an exact dollar amount.

If you know you had 10,000 impressions, 100 clicks, and 10 conversions, you can use that information to decide if you want to continue your campaign or alter the budget moving forward.

7. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of individuals viewing a web page who click on a specific advertisement that appears on the page. Click-through rate measures how successful an ad has been in capturing users' interest. The higher the click-through rate, the more successful the ad has been in generating interest. Your CTR depends on many factors, but most of them you can control.

For example, if you had 10,000 impressions and 100 clicks, your CTR is 1%. For display ads, a 0.6% CTR is average. For Google or Bing Ads, 2% or so is pretty good.

8. Targeting

With the advent of smart phones, your targeting options have skyrocketed. It used to be that you could only choose websites, banner sizes, and physical location to target your ads; that’s no longer the case.

You can target your ads toward pretty much anything. For example, you could create three versions of your ad and target three types of users: Desktop, Android, and iPhone; each with a unique message meant for that type of user.

9. Landing Pages

The landing page is where the user goes after clicking your ad. This page generally displays logical information--usually something that relates directly to the keywords searched or on the page.

The landing page should be related to the ad that clicks to it. For example, if your ad talks about different types of shoes you sell, the landing page should display different types of shoes.

The simple act of making your landing page relate to your ad copy can greatly increase your digital marketing success.

10. Mobile Gateway

Mobile gateways act as a “gateway” to your entire website or a certain section of your website. They can be display ads or video ads. They take up the entire screen, and the user needs to wait for a few seconds before they can continue to the site.

11. Keywords

Keywords are used by Web surfers to describe what they hope to find when performing a Web search.

For example, assume a Web surfer enters “buy widgets online” as a search phrase. First, we know the potential visitor is interested in widgets; specifically, they are interested in buying widgets; better yet, they are looking to buy online. This three-word search phrase tells us much about what the Web surfer is looking for at that exact moment in time.

Hopefully, you found something in this list illuminating and useful in improving your digital marketing campaigns. Just remember to keep your eyes and ears tuned in for new terms as digital marketing continues to evolve and grow at a rapid pace.


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