SEM vs Display Advertising

Where’s the best place to spend marketing and advertising dollars? In the world of paid digital advertising, two of the biggest players are search engine marketing (SEM) and display marketing.

On the surface, search engine marketing (SEM) programs like Google AdWords might seem like the best channel to maximize return on investment (ROI).

“US marketers will spend more than $103 billion on search, display, social media, and email marketing by 2019—but search will remain the largest share of interactive spend (about 44%).”

Why are marketers spending so much on search? Because search spending works. However, let’s not overlook another important aforementioned piece of that $103 billion pie: display marketing. (Think banner ads.)

So what’s the best strategy for your next effective paid digital advertising and marketing campaign? By pairing display marketing with an effective search engine marketing strategy, you’ll be able to reach more prospects and customers—but to see real ROI, the trick is knowing how and when to use display marketing.

Here’s our rundown on the basics of both of these popular paid digital advertising tactics.

What is SEM and How Does It Work?

Just about everyone has seen sponsored Google AdWords listings at the top and on the sides of the page when searching on Google. You’re looking at search engine marketing (SEM). Also known as pay-per-click (PPC), search engine marketing (SEM) allows advertisers to purchase sponsored listings on Google and other search engines.

Search engine marketing is considered a pull marketing strategy. This means the people that see an ad in a SEM campaign have personally initiated the interaction by searching a specific term that triggered the sponsored listing. Every time someone clicks your ad, you (the advertiser) are charged a small fee. With this type of pay-per-click campaign, the advertiser is only charged when someone searches for a keyword related to their services, then proceeds to click over to view their website. This type of SEM campaign is specifically designed to bring leads (clicks) to a website and to drive customers to call or contact the business to begin the buying process.

It’s highly targeted advertising at its finest—but only when your campaign is carefully constructed. As the advertiser, you must choose the exact search terms (keywords and phrases) your potential customers would likely type to find your business, products and/or services on search.

So SEM works great, but only when your strategy starts with:

What is Display Marketing and How Does It Work?

Banner ads, usually located at the top and on the sides of webpages, have existed almost as long as the Internet itself. Display advertising is essentially like putting up a billboard on specific webpages. Again, you want to ensure you reach your customers, so your display ads should contain great copy and eye-catching graphics targeted to your customers’ needs and desires. Each display should also contain a clear and compelling call to action (CTA) that encourages viewers to “act now.”

Display campaigns are more of a push marketing strategy. Advertisers can push their message out to anyone visiting a certain website. Truth be told, display marketing is more of a branding strategy. While some people will certainly click on your ad to go to your website, display campaigns are designed to increase awareness and build brand recognition.

For this reason, in terms of price, most media companies will charge an advertiser for a certain number of impressions (ads) that will be displayed. These ads will run online for a predetermined time frame. An effective display ad sticks in the mind of the viewer with each additional impression, building brand trust and recognition long-term.

Search vs Display: So What’s the Best Strategy?

Your best paid digital advertising strategy definitely depends on your goals as an advertiser. What are you trying to accomplish with your campaign? If you’re looking to run a campaign that drives actual business, SEM is usually the more immediate way to make that happen. However, if you’re advertising and promoting a specific event fast approaching, a brief display campaign may be the best option.

Studies have shown that a mix of both campaign types is usually your best bet. Both of these paid digital advertising campaigns working together improve consumer recall, ultimately encouraging your prospects and customers better remember your business, product and/or services. So, when your target audience is trying to solve a problem, your solution is more likely to sit at the forefront of their mind. Running effective SEM and display campaigns simultaneously will also increase the likelihood of a higher organic search listing results.

For those reasons and more, I recommend a combination of both campaigns for optimum results. Contact Prestige Marketing Advisors if you’re ready to get started building an effective SEM or display campaign—or both.

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