CPA or CPC? Which Targeting is Right for My Campaign? Search & Digital Media Advertising 101

Posted by Natalie Hornyak

A Beginner's Guide to Search & Digital Advertising

Advertising and digital marketing are full of acronyms and lingo, and Search and Digital Media is no exception. If you’re wondering what the difference between retargeting and contextual targeting is, or if you can’t decide between CPC or CPA ads for your latest campaign, you’ve come to the right spot. Consider this your first day of Search and Digital Media 101.

But before we dive into the vocab lesson (and best practices for choosing the right Search and Digital Advertising option), let’s take a quick look at the top 10 benefits of Search and Digital Media:

Top 10 Benefits of Search and Digital Advertising

Search and Digital Advertising gives you a nice set of strategic tactics to pair with the compelling creative you get from your favorite agency. Here are the top 10 reasons we love Search and Digital Media.

  1. Search and Digital Media advertising is highly measurable.

    With clear data and analytics, you never have to wonder what’s working and what’s not, or whether you really got the ROI you wanted from your campaign. Plus, you can keep iterating, learning from your slam dunks and technical fouls alike — creating better and better campaigns from the data you glean from your insights.

  2. You can optimize digital advertising in real time.

    Let’s face it — if your billboard isn’t getting the results you want, you won’t be heading up there on a cherry picker to adjust your messaging tactic. With real-time data from your Search and Digital Media campaign, you can correct course on the fly — plus, budget planning can be more flexible based on what works throughout the year.

  3. You can leverage performance data to enhance traditional marketing efforts.

    But let’s not knock those billboards — OOH marketing is a great tactic for many scenarios. With the detailed data you get from your Search and Digital Media campaigns, you can find the perfect place to put your billboard, or to send your brochure. Digital data is the gift that keeps on giving.

  4. Your investment is based on your needs.

    With Search and Digital Media, you have more control than ever over where your dollars are spent, who sees your ads, when they see them, and how often they see them. Control freaks and budget geeks, rejoice.

  5. On a related note, you can get very granular with data.

    All analytics tell a story. If you see that your ad gets the best results on weekdays at 3:00AM when served up to millennials who drive Subarus and play competitive Overwatch, you can target that highly specific audience. (And probably sell them a ton of coffee, if we had to guess.)

  6. You get more control over, and insight into, the consumer buying journey.

    And that beautiful, granular data also tells you what your users do before, during, and after purchasing your goods and services. Do they convert after two emails? Three? What incentives work? You can finely hone your strategy based on these personas and their journeys.

  7. Search and Digital Media evens the playing field, so small businesses can compete with folks with bigger ad budgets.

    Industry newcomers facing off against long-established brands can feel pretty discouraged when looking at their competition. But with the data you get from your Search and Digital Media campaigns, you can find the hook that gets you in with a devoted audience. Maybe you need to look more locally, or maybe you focus on a service you offer that nobody else does — that tells you everything from the keywords you should target, to the sites on which you should be hosting your ad. More strategy, less spend.

  8. Your campaign integrates seamlessly with backend web analytics.

    Search and Digital Media campaigns plug right into Google Analytics, providing a full picture of your digital marketing efforts. That gives you the power not only to measure your campaign’s success on its own, but to compare it with your full spectrum of marketing efforts, from organic SEO to social. All of this informs your overarching brand strategy, including how much you should budget for each type of campaign.

  9. Leverage rapid message and creative testing.

    A/B testing is a breeze with Search and Digital Advertising — you’ll quickly understand what resonates with your audience, and optimize communications based on the data. No more guesswork!

  10. It makes the most of your creative investment.

    Maximize ROI on your beautiful design and finely honed messaging by ensuring it gets in front of the right people. After all, the most badass, innovative ad is worthless if nobody ever sees it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Search and Digital Advertising Terms

There are different types of Search and Digital Advertising depending on your goals — are you a new brand trying to spread awareness? An established name looking to convert leads? Are you chasing down the “ones who got away,” users who searched for your product or service, then decided, “Eh, maybe later?” Depending on your budget, goals, and ideal audience, Garfield Group can help you choose from the following options:

What is Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) Advertising?

If coffee’s for closers only, CPA is the most caffeinated bid regime for Search and Digital ads. You decide how much you want to pay per conversion — for instance, a customer clicks an ad to your mobile detailing service, then sets up an appointment to get their exterior washed and waxed. Obviously, it’s satisfying to know your ad led directly toward X number of sales. On the other hand, it can be difficult to predict the ROI of a CPA campaign, so make sure you do your homework before choosing this framework, and know your analytics, customer journey, and goals backward and forward.

What is Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions (CPM) Advertising?

(Why isn’t it CPTI? “M” refers to the Latin “mille,” for “thousand.”) CPM campaigns are great for brand awareness, as the goal is to get your ad in front of as many eyeballs as possible — that’s why you pay per 1,000 impressions. This could be a great choice, for example, for a newcomer brand advertising in a high-traffic industry publication.

What is Cost-Per-Click (CPC) Advertising?

A sort of middle ground between CPA and CPM, CPC ads charge by the action — you decide how much you want to pay each time a customer clicks your ad. This is a great option when you want hard data on how your ad is performing, but aren’t targeting users far enough in the funnel to convert.

What is Retargeting?

Imagine it’s a cold, rainy day, and you start daydreaming about working on your tan on a tropical island. You’re not planning a vacation, but you figure you’ll “window shop” on Google, looking at beachy all-inclusives and wondering how much PTO you have left. Then, you remember you have a deadline coming up fast, and start researching your project. Suddenly, you’re seeing a million ads for cruises and resorts. You can no longer stand it, and send a Groupon Getaway link to your spouse with the message, “BOOK. NOW.”*

That’s the beauty of retargeting. Your ad gets served up to people who have already searched for your goods or services — folks who are more likely to take the plunge.

*based on a true story

What is Lookalike Targeting?

So you put down a few grand on a fancy vacation (treat yoself!). . That’s good intel for the travel company, so they decide to advertise to more users like you. Using all sorts of data, from demographics to site behavior, they use lookalike targeting to serve their ads up to more people like you — office workers in cold climates who could really use a nice vacay. After all, they probably won’t get great ROI from showing the same ad to Hawaiians (they’ll have better luck with Elsa than Moana).

What is Contextual Targeting?

A bit broader than retargeting and lookalike targeting, contextual targeting is a great way to get your ad in front of a broader audience. By selecting the keywords you want your ad to target, you can serve it up on high-ranking pages that match those keywords. A popular IT security blog, for instance, might display your encryption software ad on a post that informs your potential customers of a recent massive data leak, and the steps they should take to protect their business from stolen financial data or intellectual property. With heightened awareness of the security threat, your audience is now primed to consider your solution.

How Does Social Media Marketing Play Into All This?

The average user will spend five years over their lifetime using social media, more than eating or socializing in person. That’s why social advertising is an important piece of your overall Search and Digital Media strategy, allowing you to leverage data from traditional marketing to re-engage previous consumers and reinforce a brand to prospective consumers. This gives you the benefit of reaching your audience where they are, while not disrupting their experience on each platform (whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any other popular platform).

You can take advantage of very narrow targeting to hone in on your potential leads — for example, LinkedIn lets you target specific industries, business sizes, and even job positions — while reinforcing your brand message, interacting directly with your audience in real time, and tracking powerful analytics.

Let’s Get You Found — Search & Digital Advertising With Garfield Group

Strong advertising is one part strategy, one part creative, and two parts grit — and with a full suite of services, from branding to web design to social, Garfield Creates Brand Action every day for clients across multiple industries, from healthcare to finance, B2B to B2C.

Before making an investment, ensure you’re making the best decision for your dollar. The Search and Digital Media team at Garfield will work with you to determine your goals, then build a watertight strategy to demolish those KPIs. If you’re new to the Garfield crew, check out our portfolio of past work — and if it inspires you, contact us to get the Brand Action started.

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