Sponsored links :all you need to know
What are sponsored links?
Sponsored links are Digital Marketing ads in which the plain text format predominates. As the most famous sponsored links are those that appear in Google results, some people use the concept as a synonym for ads made in search engines.
Experts, however, differ: many argue that the idea includes any paid link that is used to promote products or services on the internet. That way, Google ads would be just one of the possibilities. On this page, Blue World City will adopt this broader concept, which also includes ads on social networks, blogs, among others.
Sponsored links can be displayed on a variety of platforms, such as search engines, Google Display Network, blogs and news portals.
Why invest in sponsored links
Investing in sponsored links has been a strategy increasingly used by companies of different sizes and segments, especially in times of decline in reach, as has been the case on Facebook.
Achieving your goals often involves paid actions, and sponsored links are a great option. In this topic, learn about the main reasons to invest in sponsored links.
Attract traffic to your website
Having a website that receives visitors is one of the starting points of a Digital Marketing strategy. For those just starting out, however, generating organic traffic can be a challenge.
In this sense, sponsored links are very useful: the ads point to pages that can be from your website, blog or Landing Page. It is given the start to generate Leads!
2. Accelerate your results
With sponsored links it is possible to get faster and more predictable results. Even with little investment it is possible to make a well-targeted campaign for your target audience . A great option for those who want to speed up or boost results.
3. Identify your audience
We talk about doing a targeted campaign, but companies that start investing in sponsored links don’t always know their target audiences well. If that’s your case, don’t waste the opportunity!
By doing sponsored link campaigns, you can validate and understand characteristics (age, gender, location) and interests of your audience based on the people who interact most with your ad.
4. Invest flexibly
Finding the right amount to invest is a common question among those starting out in the paid media world. For those who like ready-made answers, unfortunately there is no objective answer. Each company has its peculiarities, so it is best to adopt an investigative posture: carry out low investment tests, evaluate the responses of the public and optimize the next campaigns based on the data obtained.
The good thing is that, regardless of your budget, it is possible to make campaigns that adapt to your reality.
5. Measure the results
Speaking of obtaining data and optimizing campaigns, here is one of the main advantages of investing in sponsored links: ad platforms allow you to monitor the performance of campaigns in real-time. For each of them, it is possible to evaluate numbers such as traffic, lead generation and sales.
CPC, CPM and CPA
Anyone wishing to invest in sponsored links needs to master three billing methods: Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Thousand (CPM) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). They are generally used by paid media platforms. See a little about each of them:
CPC (Standing Cost Per Click) is a way of charging for ads where the advertiser pays for each click they can lead to the destination site. Calculating CPC is easy: just divide the total spent by the number of clicks received on the ad.
The CPM (Cost per Thousand) is the metric that represents the expense that is generated for every thousand impressions of an ad. By impressions is meant the number of times an ad has been shown to the public on the internet. By choosing CPM as their payment method, the advertiser agrees to pay a predetermined amount for every thousand impressions.
Finally, in CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), the advertiser only pays when he reaches the final objective of the campaign, which can be the download of a material, a sale, among others. It is a low-risk format for advertisers, as you only pay for transactions in which the desired action was carried out. But for that reason, it is also often a more expensive option.
Do you want to know more and learn how to calculate each of these pricing methods and learn step by step how to calculate each one? Read the post Understand what is Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Thousand (CPM) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and learn how to calculate each of the metrics.
When you see a product page and then the offer continues to appear on other pages you visit on the internet, it is not the destination: this is a practice called retargeting, quite common in Digital Marketing.
The term comes from the English target, which means target. Retargeting, therefore, would impact the same person more than once with ads that are shown after a first search for the subject, a visit to an eCommerce, among other interactions. You might also find the strategy being called remarketing, which is what Google calls its own retargeting tool.
Where to advertise: get to know the main paid media channels
Now that you know the benefits of investing in sponsored links and some other important concepts, find out which channels you can make this type of ad on.
Google Ads (formerly called AdWords) is Google’s advertising platform and main source of revenue. Its first version was released in 2000 and, since then, the platform leads the market.
With the tool, companies can pay Google to stand out on the internet. One of the benefits is to do this in a segmented way, which helps to attract a qualified audience that has a relationship with the company.
On Google Ads, it is the advertiser himself who develops his ads and determines where he wants to show them, whether on the Search Network, on various sites on the Display Network or even on other products such as YouTube and Gmail. Learn a little about each one:
- Display Network: Google’s display network consists of spaces to advertise on sites such as news portals and blogs. You can target campaigns and encourage your audience to notice your business, consider your offerings, and take the actions you want. It is available in different formats such as banner, text and Gmail.
- Search Network: are displayed in search results for certain keywords. They are highlighted at the top and bottom of the page, with a small notice that says they are paid media. It is a good option for those who want to reach people who are looking for specific solutions. In this case, the advertiser only pays when he receives a click.
- YouTube: As an advertiser, you can create campaigns that show before, during, and after videos on YouTube. It is possible to segment the target audience according to age, location, interests, among other attributes.
- Shopping: With ads in this category, you can display your products in the search results of the Shopping section of Google.
- Apps : with this format it is possible to boost the installation of apps from Google networks.
You know those Facebook posts that appear with a gray caption that says “sponsored”? This type of publication is done with Facebook Ads, a platform that allows you to take advantage of the audience of the largest social network in the world to make ads to a targeted audience, similar to what happens in Google Ads.
The tool offers different formats and segments, focused on different business objectives: getting likes on the page, generating Leads, confirming presence at events and so on.
There are different types of ads, each with its own goals. It’s from the result
end you must create your campaign. This configuration makes it easier for the user to create
your ads and achieve your goals. Below, let’s talk a little about each of them:
- Brand recognition: Aims to reach people most likely to pay attention to your ads and increase your brand awareness.
- Reach: Shows your ad to the maximum number of people.
- Traffic: This type of ad sends more people to a destination inside or outside of Facebook. It is an especially relevant alternative, since you have the possibility to send the audience reached by the ad to your website or also to your Landing Pages, increasing traffic on these pages.
- Engagement: Makes more people see your post or Page and engage with it. Engagement may include comments, shares, likes, participation in the event and obtaining the offer.
- App Installs: Sends people to the store where they can buy your app.
- Video views: Promotes videos to raise awareness of your brand.
- Generation of registrations: Advertisement that collects registration information from people interested in your business. It works as follows: the user clicks on the ad banner and is directed to a Landing Page outside of Facebook, where he fills in information in exchange for some product or service. It is also possible to create so-called Lead Ads, in which the user impacted by the ad does not need to leave the social network to make the conversion. When the user clicks on the ad, a form appears that is pre-filled with their Facebook public information, such as name and email, within the platform itself for the user to convert in a few clicks.
- Conversions: Makes people take actions on your website or app, such as adding payment information or making a purchase. You must use Facebook pixel or app events to track and measure conversions.
To learn more, check out the Complete and Free Facebook Ads Guide.
Instagram Ads is a way to serve ads in both the feed and Stories of the social network. These ads are served in photo, video and carousel formats with sequences of photos or videos. The tool can be used to generate clicks, conversions, app installs, video views, etc.
Creating Instagram ads brings visibility, attraction and brand recognition to your company. The short videos, photos and carousel images are great to help educate the use of products and services.
- Image: Most common type of ads, with an image or video, Call-to-Action button and caption.
- Carousel: allows you to publish up to 10 images in the same ad, with captions and CTA buttons. Ideal for telling a story or showing various products.
- Stories: The other formats we talked about are feed-oriented. In story ads, you advertise your company among users’ Instagram stories. Images are shown for 5s on the screen and videos for a maximum of 15s. It is also possible to create a carousel of stories.
To learn more, read the free eBook How to Advertise on Instagram Ads
LinkedIn Ads is the social media ad platform aimed at professionals. It allows for segmentation and in general attracts more qualified users, as there is more data available on where the user works and their profession.
Among the possibilities to advertise on LinkedIn, the most common ad formats are Sponsored Content (content promoted on the timeline), Text Ads (small text ads) and Sponsored InMail (sponsored message in the inbox).
- Sponsored Content: Format with the aim of promoting your content to professionals on desktop, smartphone and tablet. This content appears on your home screen (newsfeed) and your company must have a Company Page to use the format.
- Text Ads: In this format, you place the link in the text and direct it to your website like Google search ads.
- Sponsored InMail: Format that lets you send messages to your Leads directly in your LinkedIn inbox for maximum impact. This format can only be done through a new account with the LinkedIn Account Manager.
The Native Ads or native ads are a way to deliver ads that are relevant to the public, without disturbing his experience on the page. You’ve probably seen an ad in this format, which usually appears at the bottom of the page, inside news sites, as a recommendation. Usually the native advertising format is done on platforms like Taboola and Outbrain.
The main advantage of Native Ads is the fact that it is less intrusive than banners, having the potential to create value for the audience by presenting informative or entertaining content. It also allows you to create an emotional connection with the audience and can target different goals, such as lead generation, shopping, brand awareness, among others.
How to Optimize Sponsored Link Campaigns
Dropping a campaign and letting it run without improving it doesn’t make sense. There is always a way to improve and optimize the campaign to reduce costs and deliver better results.
We use some indicators that can identify improvements for your campaign in 5 steps:
Make sure the audience you’re advertising to is responding positively to the campaign. Always test different targeting for the same offer to understand which will have the best result.
2. Bidding (bid and purchase model)
When you start a campaign with no history and need to gain relevance, let the automatic bid for the Google/Facebook algorithm find the best bid (usually recommended is 7 calendar days campaign to identify automatic performance).
However, it is not always the best price! So, we have 2 strategies for you to start without going through the automatic bid mode and do it in manual mode: High Bid Start with a super high bid, more than the tool itself recommends. Once it has relevance, you gradually diminish each day. This format should be used if you are in a hurry and budget to spend a little more. Low Bid Start with a lower bid than the tool proposes, so you’re raising your bid little by little. Even if you don’t have impressions at first, you’ll need to be patient to insert a little more investment in your bid. This model is recommended if you’re not in a hurry and want to optimize investments, such as reducing ad spend and being effective in delivering results for lower amounts.
3. Placement (place where ads appear)
It’s important to test several places where your ad will appear. Many companies want to advertise everywhere available, but sometimes it may not be effective to show up in one place.
For example, if your form page is not mobile-optimized, when you run a mobile campaign, you may have a lower conversion rate than desktop.
In mobile campaigns, we tend to leave few form fields for people who click on an ad on the Google display network, via mobile newsfeed, Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads.
Also beware of ads on the right side of Facebook Ads. They work well for driving traffic to your site, so one of the reasons to create a separate campaign is to use the CPC buy model instead of CPM buy, which would consume a lot of impressions and not generate a lot of clicks.
We talked above about mobile positioning campaigns, and also here you can see which device is doing better. Depending on performance, you can pause campaigns by mobile operating system, such as iOS, Android or Windows Phone, and leave the one that has the best results to optimize further. And, if for some reason no mobile campaigns work, you can pause them and leave them active for desktops only.
This optimization is essential as a paid media indicator. Frequency is how many times the same ad has impacted the same user. It’s a big factor because TV commercials have been using it for years. How many times have you not seen the same commercial on a break in a show? For example, if an ad was seen more than 12 times by the same person and there weren’t many conversions, you’d better broaden your targeting or change the banner piece. In some cases, you can control how often you want to appear on the Google Ads Display Network. On Facebook, there is an option to not show more than once a day.
How to analyze the results of your campaigns
After running the campaign, it’s time to define the indicators that prove the ROI by putting together all your investment in paid media.
The first step is to identify the campaign, objective, expenses and results. Having documented each campaign with values divided separately, you can know if it is within the goals you set at the beginning of the month and according to the CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) which is within the expected range.
A spreadsheet can be created so that you can track the values and results according to the campaign.
In the example of the Online Course Sales and Event Ticket Sales campaign, we have a sales target through paid media: how much was invested in ads and how much generated in sales. In the spreadsheet, we also track the target status by day.
In the case of a Lead generation campaign, you can assess the ROI by analyzing the Leads that came from paid media and actually purchased. An example is BoFu (or bottom funnel) campaigns, whose ads lead to a Landing Page that offers a free trial or a conversation with a seller. Using RD Station Marketing’s Marketing BI tool, we can clearly see the cycle of each acquisition channel.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are sponsored links?
Sponsored links are the results that appear at the top of the Google results page when doing a search. They appear with a small notice that says “Ad”. This is the most common way to use sponsored links, but it’s not the only one.
Why invest in sponsored links?
Sponsored links help drive traffic to your site and accelerate your results. Having a website that receives visitors is one of the starting points of a Digital Marketing strategy, and with Sponsored Links it is possible to attract qualified traffic, with faster and more predictable results. Even with little investment, it is possible to make a well-targeted campaign for your target audience.
What are CPC, CPM and CPA?
Cost Per Click (CPC) is a way of charging for ads where the advertiser pays for each click it can lead to the destination site. CPM is the metric that represents the expense that is generated for every thousand impressions of an ad, and with CPA, the advertiser only pays when he reaches the final goal of the campaign, which can be a download of material, a sale, among others.
What are the main paid media channels?
Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Linkedin Ads and Native Ads are the main channels for sponsored links.