Digital Marketing

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Written By

Don Sturgill

Don Sturgill is a freelance writer and copywriter from Bend, Oregon, USA. Don loves helping entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. Find out more at

How to Get Results with Paid Advertising for your VOD

Paid advertising gets plenty of bad press. Many e-commerce website owners tell horror stories about how much money they wasted on Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, or another advertising program.

They’re not exaggerating. Those stories are true.

One thing they miss, though, is that plenty of other businesses are getting a healthy return on investment from paid advertising. Some say they couldn’t have survived the first few years without it.

Here’s the rub:

Paid advertising isn’t the problem. Not knowing how to launch and manage advertising campaigns is.

There are five things you absolutely must know to be successful with paid ads.

Here they are:

  1. How to choose where to advertise
  2. How to choose keywords and design ads
  3. How to place your ads
  4. How to design effective landing pages
  5. How to test, monitor, and tweak your ads

All five of those fundamentals can be learned by anyone familiar with the basics of digital marketing. You don’t need to hire a pay-per-click agency to manage your advertising campaigns.

You can if you want.

Or you can learn how to drive the bus on your own.

Either way, it’s important for you to know the basics of paid advertising campaigns – and that’s exactly what this section of the Video Business School is about.

Let’s get started!

Paid Advertising – The Overview

In the fourth quarter of 2017, ad spend across all search platforms was up 24 percent, year over year. During that same period, advertisers realized a 20 percent increase in revenue per click.

Those statistics are from the industry-respected Merkle Digital Marketing Report, and they prove conclusively that it’s possible to get more business with ads. If they weren’t paying off, both total ad spend and total ad revenue would be down, not up.

The question – especially for a young business – isn’t “Should I use paid ads?”, but “where should I advertise and what approach should I take to do it?”

Here’s why:

Ranking organically in search engine results takes time, effort, and knowledge. That scammer on the phone may promise to get your website showing on the first page of Google search by Monday, but it’s a dangerous and despicable lie.

The only way your website can get a guaranteed spot on that coveted first page of search results is by paying for advertising – and while that may sound like bad news, it’s not.

2017 marked the first time digital ad spend surpassed television ad spend. That means the playing field is wide open. You may not be able to afford a television ad (about $130,000 to even buy the time for 30-second national spot), but you probably can afford $100 to get started with pay-per-click ads.

If you follow the five fundamentals we’re going to cover next, you should be able to turn that $100 of ad spend into $200 or more in sales.

That’s when you’ll become a believer in the power of advertising.


Paid Advertising: Five Fundamentals for Success

You may be wondering, “Which paid advertising platform is best for me? Should I invest in Google AdWords? Should I buy Facebook Ads? Instagram? YouTube? How do I choose?”

Here’s the answer: invest your time and money in the places that get you the most response from your best prospects.

How do you find out where that is?

That’s the first of our five fundamentals …

How to choose where to advertise

There’s a reason why Google and Facebook get the lion’s share of digital advertising spend: most people use those platforms regularly.

Unless you have an identified and booming audience elsewhere, you should probably begin with the two proven leaders.

Google’s strong point is that about three of every four searches take place on the Google search engine. Not only does Google own the most popular search engine in the world; it also owns the second most popular search engine: YouTube search.

Facebook’s claim to fame is the ability to choose which members of the platform’s huge userbase you want to reach. You can micro-tune the audience for your Facebook ads to an incredible degree.

The third major contender – especially for SVOD brands – is YouTube. Since it’s Google-owned, you launch YouTube campaigns from your AdWords dashboard.


Most VOD channels should begin with the big three (AdWords, Facebook, and YouTube), then branch out once those are running well to experiment with other platforms your best prospects are using.

The bottom line on where to advertise: Go where your best prospects are participating and congregating.

How to choose keywords and design ads

Don’t get hung up in your search for the perfect keywords and ad copy. To get started, your best bet is to keep it simple. Real simple.

The simple way to get started with keywords

For keyword planning, make a list of the phrases your best prospects will most often use when searching for the products and/or services you provide.

If you teach people how to use Microsoft Word better, for instance, you’ll list phrases like this:

  • Microsoft Word training
  • How to use Microsoft Word
  • How to use Word
  • How to use Word better
  • How to use templates in Word

Don’t worry about finding a “longtail keyword” none of your competitors are using. Chances are high that nobody is searching for that keyword either.

Also, notice the last term in the list above narrows down to a specific problem people are trying to solve. Keying on the difficulties your best prospects struggle with is always good strategy.

From your AdWords account, you’ll have access to Google’s Keyword Planner. Enter the keyword phrase you think most fit your audience, then Keyword Planner will recommend more. It will also show you the ballpark average monthly searches for each, how competitive each is, and how much you might expect to pay for a top-of-page click.

In the example below, note how valuable Keyword Planner can be. By using the Keyword Ideas function, then sorting by competition, I see that “how to use Microsoft word” could be an excellent keyword. It’s getting thousands of searches each month, competition is low, and the estimated bid amount is reasonably low.

Not only that, but I also see keywords I don’t want to use (“negative keywords”) because they are too broad or aren’t getting much traffic. By the way, the screenshot only shows six phrases. If I download everything Keyword Planner is showing me, I’ll have 570 keyword phrases to investigate.

The bottom line for keyword phrases: Remember, you want to attract your best prospects and let everyone else go on by. Create a list of the keywords they use most often, confirm your list with Keyword Planner, and move on.

The primary keywords you choose will work on any advertising platform. You can use Google Keyword Planner to find them, but your prospects will use the same or similar keywords on the other advertising platforms, not just AdWords.

There are other keyword tools to experiment with and purchase. Start with Keyword Planner, though. It’s powerful, and it’s free to AdWords account holders.

google keyword planner

The simple way to write and design ads

Remember this one tip, and you’ll do fine with ad design:

Your ads for selling only one thing – the click. Their sole function is to catch the attention of your best prospects and get them to click on through to your landing page.

That’s it.

Here’s a link to a cool tool that will help you design AdWords ads. It not only monitors word count to keep you on track, but shows you exactly how your ads will look online: Karooya Text Ad Preview Tool.

Check the copywriting section of Video Business School for tips on sharpening your promotional skills, but don’t forget: your ad will help people take the next step towards becoming your customer. You’re not trying to close the transaction there.

But why should those prime prospects click the link in the ad?

Maybe you offer a free trial membership to your SVOD channel. Maybe you offer a limited-time discount. Maybe you promise to show them how to deal with Word’s formatting peculiarities without pulling out their hair.

If you give them something you know they’ll want to have (not everyone, mind you, but your best prospects), then clicks will happen.

SPECIAL RESOURCE: Basic Tips for Building a Keyword List

How to place your ads

Facebook is especially notorious for switching rules and methods often. Google isn’t far behind. Don’t waste your money on books that show you the mechanics of placing ads. By the time they’re printed and in your hands, chances are the dashboard and options will have changed.

Your best bet is to go straight to the advertising platforms and take their (free) tutorials. Here’s a current list:

Note that we said “current list.” Tutorial locations and content often change too. You can find third-party training, but going straight to the platform you want to use will normally give you the most up-to-date info.

The bottom line on placing ads: take the advertiser’s tutorial for current information on developing and launching campaigns.  

How to design effective landing pages

Your ad gets the attention of your best prospects, then convinces them to click on the link in the ad to take the next step.

The “landing page” is where they end up next, and the main thing to remember is that the landing page must be a clear continuation of the promise you made in the ad.

  • If you offered a free trial to your SVOD channel, then the landing page will get them signed up and signed in
  • If you offered a discount, the landing page will provide it
  • If you offered a tempting resource, the landing page will deliver it

The one thing your landing pages should have in common is an entry field to collect the email addresses of everyone your ad attracted.

The bottom line on landing page design: it must deliver the promise you made in the ad.

SPECIAL RESOURCE: A Brief Guide to Developing High-Converting Landing Pages

How to test, monitor, and tweak your ads

Here’s why you don’t need to fret over finding the perfect keywords, writing the perfect ad, and designing the perfect landing page: you have no way of knowing for sure what your prospects will respond to best.

You can guess. You can have hunches. You can have meeting after meeting and talk about it constantly. But you’ll never know for sure until you push your ads live, watch how they perform, then consistently try to do even better.

The most straightforward way of doing that is to use “split” or “A/B” testing. Once you’ve launched one or more ad campaigns, observe the results and formulate an idea about how you could make it better.

Maybe you’ll want to try a new keyword phrase, maybe you want to write different ad copy, maybe you’ll want to make a change to the landing page. Any part of the process is fair game, just be sure to make one change only. More than that, and you can’t tell which change did what.

Once you’re a pro at advertising, you’ll come to love the process of “beating the control” (boosting the results you’re getting from the current ad). The better you do, the more you’ll earn. Testing allows you to get better on a regular basis.

The bottom line on monitoring, testing, and tweaking: never stop doing it.

Paid Advertising: Don’t Knock It Before You Try It

Take your time. Invest small amounts on advertising at first. Once you’ve proven your ability to get sales from advertising (and your litmus test should always be orders generated, not clicks earned), then invest more.

Once you’re getting two or more dollars back for every dollar you invest in advertising, you won’t want to stop – and that’s a reasonable goal for every SVOD website owner.

Let the naysayers complain that “Ads don’t work.”

You can snicker all the way to the bank.

SPECIAL RESOURCE: Conversion Rate Optimization Essentials: The Master Guide

Lesson 5:

Customer Retention

Go to Lesson 5