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Digital Advertising – Exploit It Now!

If businesses, whatever size, could unlock the true potential of digital advertising, it could do so much to one’s business – from creating presence, getting discovered, growing sales or earning loyalty from customers or at least start thinking about exploiting it.

Digital advertising is simply amazing. Indeed, it is a motherhood statement. But seriously, it is beyond amazing – especially when you look at it from cost-and-returns perspective and how it can grow your business immediately, especially business-to-consumer (B2C) products and services.

If businesses, whatever size, could unlock the true potential of digital advertising, it could do so much to one’s business – from creating presence, getting discovered, growing sales or earning loyalty from customers or at least start thinking about exploiting it.

The shifting trend between conventional to digital needs no mention. With 12% CAGR, compared to 4% for TV and newspapers, do expect significant shift of advertising spend into the digital space in not too distant future.

Figure 1: Digital Advertising Spend vs Total Media Advertising Spend

This is indeed a healthy enabler for business and economy in general. Advertising used to be seen as extremely expensive tool to market products. Not anymore! With basic knowledge of artwork and copywriting, especially at the beginning of your business, you can embark on digital advertising journey almost instantly. As your business grows over time and you demand a more sophisticated artwork and copywriting, this can be outsourced to so many freelancers out there at a very competitive rate.

Whatever your advertising budget is, there is always space for you in the digital domain. Of course, a bigger budget will lead you to a more effective campaign. Even with close-to-zero budget, you can still have your online presence AND achieve what you set yourself out to achieve. For example, with your defined business, you may start having your own Facebook account and group, Instagram, or Twitter. Go on to garner your followers, and do a frequent updates on your products.

The success of digital advertising is attributed to its back-end data analytics. Data is the nucleus of digital advertising. Long gone are the days mass marketing and advertising. Today is all about niche, specific, personalized and targeted. This way, the marketing spend is more effective which leads to more relevant people taking action over the viewed advertisements. The leaders in online and digital advertising platform are indeed Facebook and Google.

Facebook for instance boasts their current monthly active users is in the region of 2 billion, and of this, 85% of them access the application via mobile devices or small screens – this is the strong base of viewers for your product to be seen. Mobile users are the ones that are more affluent, empowered and form majority of the B2C products and services.

All is good so far – the big data analytics behind digital advertising empowers business owners to reach to bigger relevant crowd that has higher propensity to subscribe his service or products. Before doing so, one must assess the capability of digital advertising and the need for his business. This way, one will get the return on investment (ROI) for every single cent spent. Contrary to primitive version of digital online advertising (example; advertising banner on a homepage), these days, we measure the effectiveness of an advertisement; after seeing the advertisement presented to them, how many people click on the URL, how many people pick up the phone and call the advertised phone number, how many people submitted details to be contacted etc. In order words, it is called “conversion rate” – how many people in % are converted to take action after seeing the advertisee presented to him/her.

As Conversion Rate is the number of people who decide to act on your advertisement over the people who view it. For example, your digital online advertisement is seen by 2,000 people, AND 1,200 people decide to click on the your URL, or visit your Facebook page, or call you for further information or place an order; that is 60% conversion rate. The higher the rate, the more cost-effective your advertisement is. Therefore, essentially, with the same advertising budget of $X, for example, you would want to reach greater number of people, with greater probability for them to take action on the advertisement.

Figure 3: Example of Facebook Ad Manager or Dashboard

Effectiveness of a digital online advertising is all about maximizing the conversion rate. After all, you only have a given budget, no matter what. This is when you need to be a smart effective business owner. You need to be on top of things when it comes to your product or service. For example, if your product is targeted for young adults between the age of 20-35, it is unwise to define the advertising parameter to include people beyond the age-bracket. Similarly, if you are running a café or delivery service within the area of Setapak, it is not advisable for your advertising parameters to include all target users within Klang Valley or whole of Malaysia. Many have adopted the approach where they start defining the advertising campaign for the first month, assess the first month advertising report and improve the approach accordingly in the subsequent months. The only thing that does not change is, perhaps, the allocated ad budget. At least this is true when the business is at its infancy stage.

Case Study – Oil Paintings by Nazran Yahya

In 2014, I assisted local oil painting artist, Nazran Yahya. He came to approach me with his existing brick-and-mortar approach for all his amazing oil paintings. While some of his paintings were at a gallery at Publika Mall, some are stored at his studio in his home.Immediately, I teamed up with him to develop a marketing strategy which firstly included basic website for all his paintings which is hosted on Blogspot at http://nazranyahya.blogspot.com

The second step, with a reasonable budget, was to exploit Google Adwords to promote his paintings. As Google Adwords works on effectiveness “keywords” to guide the searchers to find the intended items/business. For this campaign, we chose relevant keywords such as “Malaysian oil painter”, “Oil paintings Kuala Lumpur”, “Malaysia oil paintings” etc.

The campaign gave us immediate result, where we saw increase in number of people visiting the gallery, visiting the site, calling to find out more etc. As a result, Nazran Yahya spring-boarded himself in the local artistic scene, he managed to sell more of his paintings, some companies stated their interest to host his paintings in their office while selling them within the premise for interested buyers.


Having discussed the points above, online advertising has indeed experienced advancement leaps and bounds. Besides implementing the key marketing concepts as captured above, the recent approach can be taken to another level altogether. Facebook advertising for example offers “guerrilla marketing” proposition where you could target (and eventually convert) the customers of your competitors’ into yours. For instance, if you are the medium-sized spice producer in the market, producing ready-to-cook spices for local market. As a rookie in a relatively saturated and competitive space, you may “instruct” the campaign to present the advertisement to the current users of the leading brands i.e. Adabi, Baba’s and Maggi. This way, while you try to make a presence as newcomer, you capture target market’s mind-set and eventually manage capture early adopters who are looking for alternatives or those who are simply curious to try your spice.

In conclusion, it is apparent that the power of digital or online advertising is endless. The beauty of it is as business owners, the entry barrier is relatively low by allowing just about anyone to exploit digital advertising at any ad spend. Certainly, this article encourages small-medium businesses to take advantage of the online advertising for it is the fastest way to market one’s product. Similarly, big organisations must also strive for a good mix between conventional and new ways of advertising, and to take control over your advertising spend. More importantly, for business owners and individuals to take advantage of the technological advancement in the advertising space.

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Written By

Zul Idris's forte is in strategy and marketing. He has been involved in strategic marketing deliveries, globally. You can connect and follow him on LinkedIn.

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