Flow Communications

On Phone
(Image: Sascha Kohlmann)

A sample of various recent studies (by organisations such as Google) suggests that the average person checks their phone between 150 and 250 times per day. That is a considerable number of opportunities to reach people in your target market, let them know what you are selling, give them the quickest possible way to buy it, and track, cent-for-cent, how successful you are at doing so.

Consider your own behaviour briefly. When last did you buy something directly from a billboard? And when last did you buy something online?

Here are just a few reasons why, in most cases, you should be allocating the majority (if not all) of your advertising budget to digital media:

  1. You can target people wherever they are
  2. Your customers can find you wherever they are
  3. Your customers can immediately engage with your advertising (click to a web page or make a phone call)
  4. You can manage your budget in real time
  5. You can track return on investment (ROI) far more effectively (reach, engagement, conversions)
  6. You can run digital campaigns on much smaller budgets than traditional advertising models
  7. You can start a digital advertising campaign right now

In 2009 I traded my career in print journalism for one in digital marketing and I remain glad I did so. Advertisers fund the printing and distribution of newspapers and magazines, yet have no way of knowing how many people really see their adverts, let alone how many people engage with them – you can't click a print advert.

The same predicament applies to all forms of advertising that aren't digital.

The following are digital advertising platforms to consider …


Google advertising (AdWords) includes search advertising, banner or display advertising on selected websites, video advertising on YouTube and more.

A screenshot from a Google search. Google currently shows text adverts above organic results.

Through Google AdWords, you can serve text adverts in relation to specific searches, through a bidding system. Costing depends on the competition for the keywords you'd like to match your adverts with, as well as the quality of your website, and the relevance of its content to the text in your adverts.

You can also design banners of various dimensions and specify the type of website (or sometimes the specific website) where you would like your banners to appear. This also enables you to serve adverts to people who have visited your website and shown an interest in your product or service.

YouTube advertising (run through Google) is the most cost-effective way of serving commercial video content. A very small percentage of businesses can afford to flight a television commercial, but anyone with a video and some small change can advertise on YouTube.

Your budget needs to be determined by your objectives and targets (i.e. how many products you aim to sell each month), and should be clearly debated up front with your digital agency.

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook remains the world's most popular social network and because Facebook knows so much about its users (age, gender, interests, location, relationship status, job title, etc.), you can be proactive in reaching customers through its advertising network.

An example of a Land Rover advert on Facebook.

Facebook owns Instagram and offers this platform to advertisers as well, with increasingly efficiency.

Facebook is ideal for one-off or short-term campaigns (such as selling tickets to an event), and arguably offers the best possible entry-level costing in the digital advertising space.


If you're looking to serve advertising to someone based on their profession, LinkedIn is usually the best platform, particularly in more exclusive industries. It is also widely regarded as the best third-party platform for recruitment.

LinkedIn advertising its advertising services on its own platform.


Through Twitter advertising, you can promote your content, promote your handle and even promote a trend.

In some countries (not yet in South Africa), Twitter adverts can be served to people based on the television show they are watching, providing a direct connection between the medium on which attention, interest and desire are captured, and the one on which action can be taken.

Which platform is the best and what budget do you need?

Before you decide on the best platform or combination of platforms, as well as how much budget to allocate, you should first have a clear understanding of your objectives and your targets. If you are selling online, you also need to ensure that the website and payment gateway that you are sending customers to offers optimal user experience, to avoid throwing good money away.

What do you aim to achieve, and by when, or how frequently?

Other factors that may influence platform selection include the nature of your product or service, the nature of your target market, as well as what your competitors are already doing.

There are various tools to calculate estimated reach and engagement within your specified demographic per platform, and provided you set up correctly, you can track your conversions as soon as you start spending.

If you'd like to explore digital advertising for your business, feel free to send me an email.

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