The Economics of Online Ads
How much does it cost to run an ad for your law firm in The New York Times?
This question elicits a spectrum of responses. Most people that I query guess that an ad-buy in one of the most circulated and respected newspapers would cost – at the very least – thousands of dollars. We are, after all, living in an era of Super Bowl advertising. However, after crunching the numbers, we can tell you that the cost for 440 impressions (the number of times your ad appears) on the nytimes.com website is a shocking $1.63.
We were able to achieve these results by accessing the Google Display Network. Display advertising allows companies to place ads on any website that is a part of the Google Display Network. While websites like the nytimes.com or theglobeandmail.com tend to sell their own ad space, they often use Google’s Display Network to fill gaps.
Thus far, we’ve had tremendous success placing banner ads for our law firm clients – commonly accumulating hundreds of thousands of ad impressions per week. Initially, we focused our efforts on placing ads on websites belonging to local BC news publications such as the Georgia Straight or The Tyee. However, we quickly realized that we could extend our clients reach and branding capabilities by targeting international newspapers like The New York Times and The Guardian.
This new strategy of targeting behemoth publications is where the phenomenal capabilities of the Google Display network become clear. Within only a few weeks of adding The New York Times to one of our client’s list of managed placements, this client received 440 impressions from the popular website.
New York Times – West Vancouver Edition
It’s important to note that these impressions are not being wasted on surly cab drivers in Queens or heiresses in the Upper East Side, as the Google Display network is able to tell where the people reading a particular website are located. In short, the ads that we ran for our client on The New York Times’ website are seen by individuals living and working in Vancouver and the surrounding region. The ads can be geo-targeted at a very granular level (including by neighborhood).
Social Media Banner Ads
While we can register even more ad impressions through social media, we have found that social channels have not been as effective for law firms in terms of ad placements. We do recommend that firms maintain a visible presence on social media, but that ad revenues be allocated elsewhere.
No Magic Bullet
Although the cost of the nytimes.com ads appears to be very low, these costs are based entirely on impressions. These ads did not generate any traffic from the New York Times to our clients websites. Costs rise on a pay-per-click basis as soon as traffic flows in greater quantities. In addition, the quality of traffic that we’ve seen through the Display Network has been far lower quality than through the Search Network. Visitors spend less time on the client’s site and tend to bounce away more often than not. The Display Network is not a marketing end unto itself. It requires parallel traffic through conventional means (whether a search campaign or through referral networks).
Although 440 impressions is a relatively small number when compared to the impressions that our clients accumulate on local websites (where the ad-buys are less competitive), it is very valuable to know that we can tie our clients’ brands to some of the most storied and esteemed publications in the Western World. We are very excited to see that the Google Display Network is living up to its potential.