The Pros and Cons of Online Advertising

There’s a relatively new kid on the block when it comes to advertising. It’s known by several names — online, digital or Internet advertising. And it can take many forms — ads on a website, search engine advertising, email marketing, mobile advertising and video sharing, to name a few. But before you sign up with the new kid, take a look at these pros and cons of online advertising to determine whether it’s a good fit with your overall promotional plan.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider before making your decision:

Pros (Advantages)

  • They’ve Been Talking to Your Customer – Websites learn about prospective customers by observing their behavior while online. Through the use of digital markers or“cookies,” they gather extensive data that can be used to better pinpoint likely buyers. For example, a website visitor who clicks on information about home repair could also see an ad for your home fix-it shop. That means your advertising dollars are more likely to reach your target market with individualized messages.
  • That’s Infotainment – The digital environment can encourage interaction through the use of games or downloading photos. That gives prospects an opportunity to learnmore about your company in a non-threatening way. It gives you the chance to build your brand.

Cons (Disadvantages)

  • The Big Brother Factor – Consumers are becoming more aware of the data gathering practices of websites. As a result, they may have privacy concerns that make them hesitant to interact with online media. Some websites address this by clearly disclosing how information is used and whether it is shared with anyone else. Others have established preference centers that allow visitors to choose the kind of information they want to receive and how often they are contacted.
  • It’s Not the Wild, Wild West – Online advertising has rules and regulations. For example, the CAN-SPAM act establishes the rules for email advertising and sets FTC penalties for violations. It’s important to learn these rules to avoid penalties and loss of goodwill with potential customers.

Online advertising can be an important part of your small business’ promotional plan. But before you decide, consider its pros and cons to determine if it’s right for you.

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