An advertising campaign is a primary method of delivering messages to your audience as a component of an overall marketing strategy. While advertising can mean many things, digital advertising is generally categorized as either paid or earned. Paid advertising is where you are paying someone for space and time. Earned advertising used to be called publicity — and basically, it’s “free” advertising, such as press releases or media coverage. With paid advertising, you have the advantage of controlling the duration and the frequency of opportunities for your audience to view your ad. Optimizing these two factors is key to running successful developer advertising campaigns.
Time Is as Important as Timing
For paid advertising, space is measured both dimensionally and spatially on a web page. The size of the ad and its location on the web page are considerations when placing advertising. Time is measured in impressions or as a fixed time period — meaning the website may run your advertisement until it reaches a limit of 10,000,000 impressions, or until May 14, 2021, whichever comes first.
Advertising serves two purposes – activation or awareness.
Activation ads persuade the viewer to take an action — often a lead generation activity —such as registering for a white paper, eBook, or trial download. For awareness, you are using advertising to simply create recognition of your product or brand. For all advertising, two critical variables are duration and frequency (how often a viewer is exposed to the ad, and the length of exposure). The human brain uses repetition and exposure to learn and remember information, so it may be helpful to treat advertising as a learning tool.
Because advertising costs money, it’s generally a good idea to have a plan or strategy with the following considerations in mind before you commit resources to your advertising effort:
- Define a goal. Is the goal of the campaign lead generation or awareness? What specifically do you want to accomplish? How will you measure success? How often will you review the results and make adjustments?
- Budget with frequency and duration in mind. If the budget is fixed, do you focus on frequency or duration? A low ad frequency would lower your cost, but current common wisdom and a number of studies indicate that the optimum number of exposures is at least 10.
- But 10 is really a reference number. Your actual required number of exposures will depend on the responsiveness of your audience, and the complexity of your product or message. The number used to be seven (re: the Marketing Rule of 7), but the number has changed due to shorter attention spans.
- Build consistency. The developer audience needs time to recognize and trust your brand. Advertise for longer periods of time to build the trust that you will be there to support them down the road.
- Your ad is just the beginning. The customer/audience experience with your brand begins with your ad and continues to where you lead them. For example, point your audience to a landing page with a subscription, download, or offer. Ensure that that messaging is consistent and drives to an action.
Get Visibility in Developer Communities
Digital advertising and sophisticated audiences can also introduce complexities to the frequency question. Savvy developers value vendors who support developer communities, such as CodeProject, Morning Dew, or influencer blogs like Hanselman.com. These communities are forums with which they frequently consult — and their visits will impact the effectiveness of your campaign. This knowledge is supported not only by our conversations with developers but also by 2019 survey data from Evans Data Corporation.
Another aspect to consider is that with trade shows and meetings curtailed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers have turned to advertising as a primary channel to the customer. More advertising means more competition for attention. Careful planning coupled with great content and a creative perspective is the way to cut through the noise and reach your audience through advertising.