We’re big fans of using social media to promote fishing and paddlesports brands. In addition, we advocate using paid online advertising to supplement your brand’s posts on social media.

We know what you’re thinking: “Wait, if I’m using free social media to promote my brand, why should I pay for online advertising?”

Digital advertising makes a lot of sense for outdoor brands. But it can be challenging to figure out how the different platforms work, which one(s) to use and how to develop smart campaigns.

So let’s walk through the basics.

Online Advertising for Fishing & Paddlesports Brands

Compared to traditional print advertising, digital advertising is pretty quantifiable. You pay for a specific deliverable, either clicks or views. You can see how people move from the promotion to your website, how they move around your site and whether they place an order. Tracking and results are detailed enough that you can understand how your promotions pay off.

More important, online advertising reaches people who are researching what fly rod or paddleboard best suits their needs and who aren’t yet in your sales pipeline.

Yes, online advertising can seem daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the strategies and platforms. So we’ll steer you through some of the pros and cons for each of the following channels.

Top 4 Channels for Digital Advertising

Pay-Per-Click Search Advertising

Ever notice that the top results when you search a word or phrase on Google have little graphics that denote them as ads? That’s paid search.

Using Google Ads, marketers set a budget and choose what keywords they want their ad to associate with. (Bing has a similar platform.) If someone searches “stand up paddleboard,” they’ll see paid ads at the top of the results page. Advertisers pay each time a user clicks on the ad.

These are text-only ads that link to your website. So your ad copy has to be smart and strategic, and the linked page has to be totally relevant to the keyword. For example, if the SUP searcher clicks an ad and winds up on a page selling T-shirts instead of boards, they’ll likely leave.

Pros: You can create a Google Ads account today and start a campaign. Paid search is a good way to boost traffic to your website and to support the launch of a new product. You control your budget; the campaign ends when you’ve reached your spending limit. And you control what your ad says and where it appears.

Cons: While it’s easy to get started, there’s a learning curve to the platform and a strategy to writing ad copy and choosing keywords. In addition, you need to devote time to designing landing pages that correlate to each ad in your campaigns, so site visitors are likely to find what they’re looking for and buy it.

Pay-Per-View Display Advertising

These are the boxes, banners, popups and other visual ads that marketers place on relevant third-party sites. A display ad for a fishing rod may appear on the website of a company that sells lures, for example.

Using Google Ads, you choose a format, create a design and set parameters (geographic location, demographics, interests) for who sees it. The platform automatically serves the ad to your target audience, wherever they are online. Google display advertising is auction-based and you can bid on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM) basis.

Good design is essential: Your display ads should be on-brand, carry a call to action and speak to the enthusiasts you’re trying to attract. Keep the message simple and static, so the user doesn’t have to wait for the ad to load.

Pros: Google does a good job of pairing your ad with the websites your audience visits, so it’s an effective way to reach the right people. Digital display advertising is great for building brand awareness.

Con: Click through for display ads isn’t as high as for Google text ads, so they’re not as good at strictly driving traffic, but you do get a lot more views.

Social Media Advertising

Paid promotions on Facebook and Instagram can look like regular photo or video posts, but they’re marked as sponsored content. You can target your campaign by demographic or location, and you can reach people who are similar to your existing fans and customers. You set a budget and choose whether you want to pay for clicks or views.

Pros: Social media advertising works for fishing and paddling brands because the sports are so visual. Sponsored content blends well with organic content. Successful social ads sell the outdoor lifestyle, not just specific products.

Con: Because ads blend in so well, folks may get surprised to find that they’re interfacing with paid content when they click a post that takes them to the advertiser’s website.

Video Advertising

YouTube and Vimeo allow marketers to create ad campaigns that reach people who search for and watch videos. Most commonly, ads play before a video starts and users have to watch 15 or 30 seconds before closing the ad.

Like social channels, video sites use their own platforms to manage advertising. You can set a budget, select your target audience by demographic, interest or keyword, and upload your ad content. You pay per view.

Pro: There’s huge demand for video content and lots of opportunity for your ads to be seen.

Con: You’ll have to produce your own videos, which can be costly and it takes a lot of views to educate viewers.

As you can see, paid online advertising has pros and cons, no matter what channel (or channels) you choose. Social media advertising may be a good place to start because your brand is — or should be — already active there.

Still murky on making digital advertising work for you? Throw us a line any time.

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