Getting Started with Online Advertising

In a survey conducted in December 2013, we asked PADI Members: What had the greatest positive impact on your certification numbers this year? The number one answer:  online marketing.

If your advertising portfolio doesn’t include online ads, it’s time to diversify! PADI RRA Members can take advantage of co-op funds ($500 – $750) to make your initial investment. For details, contact your Sales Consultant or Regional Manager.

Online Advertising Overview

Below is a quick guide to getting started with online ads and some advantages / disadvantages of each platform. For a more detailed overview, including our secret sauce for great online ads, attend PADI Business Academy.

AdWords Express
If you’re short on time or tentative about dipping a toe into the online ad waters, AdWords Express is an excellent choice. The video below does a nice job of illustrating the process – in a charming, claymation sort of way.

Creating an ad is an easy, three step process:
– Input your contact information
– Choose a category (Scuba Diving Certification, for example)
– Set a monthly budget and you’re done.

Google will make a budget recommendation, but you choose the final amount. You only pay for clicks and the ads are automatically shown on both desktop and mobile devices. There are no keywords to choose, and no ads to manage.

Some disadvantages: AdWords Express ads can be expensive in a competitive marketplace. Also, if you are the only dive center in the area, organic search should put you at the top of Google’s page results for free.

Google Display Network

Google AdWords
A  more dynamic, sophisticated way to advertise online, Google AdWords includes both ads in Google search results, plus ads across Google’s massive display network. The video below gives a quick overview.

Your display network ad could appear on sites such as Gmail, ScubaBoard, USA Today or other popular sites. In addition to text, your ad can include a photo or video.

Target users based on:
Search term
Geographic location
Device (ex. only iPads)
Time of day
Specific website / interest

The main disadvantage of Google Ads (versus AdWords Express) is that they need to be monitored. While Google will automatically show your best-performing ads more often, very few will show if the keyword targeting / quality score isn’t good, or if the bid price isn’t high enough. Google will make keyword and bid recommendations to ensure your ads are as successful as possible, but you need to login regularly to see these suggestions.

Look for a promo code!
Before we move on, it’s important to note that Google regularly offers promo codes of $50 – $75US in “free ads” to new accounts. Before initiating a new campaign, Google AdWords promo code.

Facebook ads

Facebook Ads
A popular alternative to Google Ads, Facebook ads leverage the power of personal recommendation. Watch an overview video.

Popular targeting options include:
Connections (friends of people who already like your page)

Facebook ads can point to your website or your Facebook page. If the ads point to your page, you’ll also see a boost in exposure for your status updates during the same period you’re running ads. This is especially good if you’re running ads in conjunction with a sale or special event.

Disadvantages – as with Google Ads, Facebook ads need to be monitored regularly.

YouTube Ads
You can’t ignore these stats:
84.9% of online Americans watched online video in December 2013, down slightly from 85.5% in November,  and  online video ads reached 53% of the online population During December. Ads accounted for 4 in every 10 videos viewed Americans (stats via ComScore).

Isn’t it great that our sport lends itself so well to video? You can try this at home: have someone describe a whale shark in 10 seconds. Then watch the first ten seconds of this video:

As with all the other online ads, you only pay when someone clicks through to your website. If the viewer clicks the “skip ad” button, you don’t pay. Ads can be targeted based on location, device, search term, and other factors.

PADI has several promotional videos available. Check out the marketing toolbox of the Pro’s Site, or the PADI Producer YouTube channel. Videos are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and we even have one that’s language-neutral.

Co-op funds are limited, so if you’re an RRA Member don’t delay! If you’re interested in a detailed presentation (including hands-on workshop) attend one of our upcoming PADI Business Academy presentations.

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