Online advertising is best if it is local not global

Online advertising does not workOnline advertising is undeniably big business. After all, Google alone makes tens of billions of dollars profit each year from it. They probably wish more of us actually clicked on something. But the facts are that the vast majority of people using the Internet completely ignore all forms of online advertising. Even though it is big business, online advertising is nowhere near as big as it could be – if only people were more interested in what is on offer and therefore clicked more.

Worse, it seems that even when people do click, they only rarely buy anything as a result. Over three-quarters of people who click on an online advertisement never buy anything as a result. It means that online advertising is failing on two counts. It is failing to attract people in the first place and even when they are enticed by an advert, the advertisers are failing further by not even getting most of them to buy. Click rate are low and conversion rates are even lower. Wouldn’t it be much better if the reverse were true?

A recent study suggests it can be different. The research found that there are two reasons which increase the chances of people clicking and buying after seeing an online advert. Of significance is relevance. The vast majority of online advertising is simply not relevant. For instance, I searched for the term “Adobe Photoshop Expert Bristol”. I am looking for someone who is an expert on Photoshop based in Bristol, obviously. What adverts do I see? Well, I could click on the advert for Adobe Illustrator freelancers outside the UK..! Now where is the relevance? Why did the advertisers even think I would be interested? Why did Google serve up an advert that has nothing to do with Photoshop, nor Bristol? Is it any wonder that there are so few clicks and even less business?

There clearly needs to be a wholesale change in approach to online advertising, with companies being much more specific in what they serve up their adverts for. Better to serve up fewer, but more relevant adverts, get lower numbers of clicks but achieve a higher rate of purchase, than to pay for thousands of clicks that result in zero buying. Most online advertisers, it seems, pay scant attention to specificity. Yet it is such tiny detail which leads to more sales.

However, the research reveals that just as important as a relevant advert is a local one. In spite of the seeming globalisation of business, most financial activity in the world is local. McDonald’s, for instance, may be a global force to be reckoned with in the fast-food sector, but few people look for one of their restaurants more than a few miles from home. Even an international company like McDonald’s does almost all of its business locally. Similarly, even though your business can get your website designed anywhere in the world, the chances are it is local so you can chat to the designer, even meet up face-to-face. We might live in a global marketplace, but the vast majority of business is actually done in a small corner of it, your local corner.

So if you want to succeed in the world of online advertising you need to make two simple changes – be more relevant and emphasise your local nature. Do that and you will get fewer displays of your adverts, but you will get higher clicks and greater conversions.

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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