If your practice has looked into running online ads recently, you may have been surprised at just how many options are available.
Even if your practice has the budget to try out all of the different online ad platforms, that would not be the best way to spend your marketing budget. Instead, review your options to see what would be the best fit for your practice, then try out no more than 2 or 3 at a time. From there, you can monitor to see what is working for your practice and what isn’t.
To help you get a better idea of what to expect from popular online ad platforms, we’ve put together a list with the information you need to know about each.
Google Adwords is certainly one of the most common types of online ads. These are the ads that you see at the top of the page when performing a search on Google. With these types of ads, you only pay when someone clicks on the ad.
Paid search campaigns can be very effective if you target your ads to the right people. Your ads show up when people search for terms relevant to your ads, so it’s fairly easy to ensure that your ads are actually reaching audiences that want to hear what you have to say. These ads are also fairly quick and easy to set up, and they don’t require photos. You also have fairly detailed reporting options, so you can monitor your results and adjust as needed.
However, if you don’t have the time to regularly monitor your campaign and make adjustments to target the right people, it might be costing you money without giving you any real return on your investment. You also need to consider your practice’s location. If your practice is located in a highly-competitive area and you are also targeting a highly competitive term, you might end up paying a fairly high cost per click. For example, if your practice is located in New York City and you want to target your ads to patients with back pain, you’ll need to be prepared to spend more per click than a practice in a small town would. To get a better idea of just how expensive keywords can get in different niches, take a look at this WordStream post.
Google Display Network
Unless you have ad blockers installed on your internet browser, you probably see display ads on a daily basis. These are the ads you see alongside, above, and below content when visiting a website. Sometimes, you’ll even see a display ad in the middle of the content. Unlike paid search ads, display ads incorporate a visual element, so they are usually more eye-catching.
Display ads tend to have a wider reach than paid search ads. You also have more flexibility with what you can include. You are generally given a certain amount of space for the ad, and in that space you can include a combination of images, video, text, etc. Like Google Adwords, you can monitor the campaign’s performance and make adjustments as you go.
However, you don’t have as much control over where your ads are placed. The ad placement may not always be the most relevant to your target audience. Also, display ads can be associated with spammy content and are often ignored. In fact, click-through rates for display ads are generally less than 1%. Although you only pay if someone clicks on your ad, it may be a lot of effort for little return unless you target your campaign well.
For example, display ads would not work well for hip replacement procedures or other similar topics, but they could work well for something like colorectal cancer screening awareness. The latter topic is associated with a very specific demographic, and a display ad could be helpful in raising awareness. It all depends on your goals for the campaign.
Facebook Sponsored Posts
If your practice is already on Facebook, and you already have an active presence, Facebook ads are a fairly cost-effective way to boost your reach. They also look like regular Facebook posts, so people can easily share the ads and boost your reach even further.
Facebook sponsored posts also give you a lot of targeting options, so you can really focus in on your audience. Facebook also has reporting features to help you adjust your campaign and determine your return on investment for the sponsored posts. Although similar to Google Adwords in that it’s fairly simple to set up, Facebook gives you the advantage of being able to add images to your posts, as well. The average cost per click is also fairly cost-effective.
If your practice is going to place online ads on a social network, Facebook is probably the best place to start. Facebook is the most popular social network, and your practice is more likely to connect with patients on this platform than other social networks. You’ll just need to commit to monitoring your campaign and making adjustments as needed.
Similarly to sponsored Facebook posts, promoted tweets show up in the timelines of Twitter users. Twitter users can also interact with the ads just as they could with any other tweet.
Like other types of online ads, you are able to target your posts to specific audiences, and you only pay if someone interacts with your sponsored post. Twitter does offer some reporting features, although not nearly as detailed as what you get from Google products.
For medical practices, Twitter may not be the best place to consider placing online ads. We’ve generally seen practices have more social media success on Facebook than on Twitter, so you may have difficulty reaching your target audience even with sponsored ads.
LinkedIn Sponsored Posts
The advantage of LinkedIn sponsored posts is the ability to target very specific groups of people with your ads. Like sponsored posts on other social networks, you only pay if someone interacts with one of your posts. However, you’ll generally pay a higher cost per click on LinkedIn than on other social networks.
LinkedIn is really a professional network, so it may not be the best use of your practice’s advertising dollars if you are looking to connect with more patients. LinkedIn advertisements are a better option for businesses trying to connect with others in their industry.
Outbrain is a bit different from the other types of online ad platforms we’ve discussed here. Outbrain is used specifically to promote content, whether on your website or blog. Outbrain has several publishing partners, including Time, CNN, ESPN, and Slate. If your practice advertises via Outbrain, your content will show up as recommended content on sites like these.
There are some targeting options with Outbrain, but you may not be able to completely control where your content is displayed. You also don’t have as many reporting metrics as you would with other advertising platforms. However, your site is required to have a minimum amount of traffic to be able to run ads. If your website doesn’t get a substantial amount of traffic, Outbrain may not be an option for your practice.
Outbrain makes the most sense if your practice has a blog to promote, as it is best suited to editorial content.
Taboola is another popular content promotion platform, much like Outbrain. The distribution of content is the same, with promoted content showing up as recommended content on other sites. Their average cost per click is a bit lower than Outbrain, but the quality of the traffic may not be as good as Outbrain. In general, the sites Taboola uses to place its ads are considered to be lower quality than those used by Outbrain.
As with Outbrain, this type of platform would really only be helpful if you have a blog to promote. They also require a minimum amount of traffic, so you’ll need to consider that, as well.
These are only some of the many online advertising options available. We suggest starting with simpler online ad platforms first, then working your way up to others if your ads are working for you. Remember, always monitor and measure your results–if you can’t determine a return on investment from your ads, then that money is best spent elsewhere.