Ads versus Content? No contest.

Over the past three years, we’ve been offering a lot of different content and editorial based options for advertisers on Bikerumor, my cycling tech site.

With all the buzz around “content marketing”, you might think banners are dead.

But we still offer banner ads, too.

Each has it’s place, but it’s important to know when to use each one.

Ads versus Content

If you’re still stuck on banners and traditional advertising, here are a few things to consider:

  • What does an ad campaign cost?
  • What would a sponsored story cost?
  • Which one has a longer shelf life?
  • What are your goals…quick response, or long term brand building?
  • Which one carries more weight with the intended audience?

Those last two should help dictate which way you go, because the others are trick questions…

Banner and content campaigns can cost similar amounts, but deliver very different types of results. And content will ALWAYS have a longer shelf life.

Ads are for a Quick Response

If you’re looking for a quick response to drive sales on a promotion or discount, then banner ads (whether on a website, social media, email newsletters, etc.) will work well.

Think of these like coupon inserts the Sunday paper…except digital.

Something like that, with a short shelf life, doesn’t usually require a massive spend compared to a branding campaign. And it doesn’t matter that it’s forgotten the second the campaign ends, because the sale is over.

Content is for Branding… and a Quick Response

I know a bike component brand that spent $10k+ on banners on a competing website and, in their own words, had nothing to show for it.

It didn’t move the needle.

But we published one story on Bikerumor about their product and their web traffic spiked and it generated huge sales. Where do you think their resources should go in the future?

The answer might seem obvious, but the devil’s in the details.

Their ads were branding plays, simply displaying a product and logo. And $10k may sound like a lot, but on a high traffic site, they could burn through that in 3 to 6 weeks and still not have every reader see an impression.

Our story, however, detailed the product’s features, explained why it mattered, and showed how it could be used. Readers saw how it was valuable to them. So they bought it.

Here’s the beautiful part…

That story is STILL up on Bikerumor. It’s STILL generating sales. And it’s STILL building their brand.

Those banner ads?

They’re long gone, and long forgotten.

If you’re running a sale, banners are fine.

If you’re running a branding campaign, either be ready to write a blank check for ads, or budget for content projects with targeted publishers, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, and others with engaged audiences to create good content around your products and brand.

Not sure how to start? Need ideas? Hit me up.

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