Television, print newspapers, and radio were the long-preferred vehicles for advertisers’ messages. Thanks to the advent of the Internet and the phenomena of smartphones, social media, tablets, and digital newspapers, traditional means of advertising have steadily dropped out of popularity.
2017 was the first year, for example, in which digital advertising revenue outweighed its television counterpart. 2006 marked an unprecedented drop in print newspaper advertising revenue, declining from $55,000 million in 2005 to a mere $20,000 in 2011. Since then, print advertising revenues have steadily declined.
Without detailing further advertising industry statistics, it’s clear as day that digital advertising has overtaken all other advertorial vehicles as advertisers’ method of choice. But what’s the difference between free and paid online advertising? They both cost money, but in different ways.
Let’s take a look at the various pros and cons of both paid and free online advertisements.
But first, what’s the difference between free and paid online ads?
Paid advertising, also known as paid media, consists of two kinds of ads:
Pay-per-click ads are those in which advertisers pay an agreed-upon fee for each and every web user that clicks on them.
Pay-per-impression ads‘ rates involve the calculation of how many Internet users’ computer displays are exposed to such ads. This type of paid media is typically paid by the hundred, thousand, or ten thousand exposures.
Free advertising, on the other hand, is spread across blog posts your company has authored, blog directories your entity’s website is found on, answers posted by your organization’s representatives to questions asked on Q-and-A websites like Quora, social media posts your business has authored, and so on.
In other words, paid advertisements almost always look like ads. Free ads don’t; they’re many times more organic or natural than their paid counterparts.
The ups and downs of free ads
Free ads are infinitely cheaper than paid media. However, marketing campaigns geared towards immediate results will rarely work with free media. These types of promotions are best suited for business entities in need of gradual attention boosts to their brands, products, services, and web pages.
The performance of free promotions is directly related to the quality of an organization’s website. Businesses without substantial investments in web-based infrastructure are best left with paid ads. One can think of this trade-off as either paying for a quality website, on one hand, or investing in paid media.
Consumers that check more reviews than others are more likely to be exposed to cost-free blurbs about an organization’s likeness. Consider purchasing or commissioning market research regarding how intensive your industry’s customers are in researching previous customers’ reviews. The more likely your average customer is to research others’ reviews, the more your business should invest in free advertising in the form of reviews across the Internet.
Don’t forget a few of the most important pros and cons to remember regarding paid ads
Paid media is the advertorial vehicle of choice for advertisers in need of reaching niche or narrow markets. However, the closely-defined advertising focus is, the pricier ads will be.
Tracking the impact of both pay-per-click and pay-per-impression promotions is infinitely easier and definitive than attempting to do so with free ads. Such a benefit is more important to advertisers with cost-sensitive budgets and short-term goals.
Online advertising is split into two main groups: paid and free media. Both broad categories of these advertorial vehicles have wildly different upsides and takeaways. Remembering this brief guide’s contents will help you make better choices for future online advertising decisions.