Brands can advertise to their audiences in any number of ways. They can choose between numerous online and offline channels, different ad types, and varying forms of media, including search ads, display ads, social media ads, video ads, TV ads, billboards, and many more.
But not all channels and media types are equal. Naturally, brands want to advertise in the places where they’ll see the most attention, lead capture and sales conversions, and those happen in situations with the most buyer intent. While brand awareness and affinity can be powerful, when your objective is sales, it’s always best to surface your ad in situations where the audience is ready to make a purchase.
Yet different media and channels are appropriate for different kinds of advertisers. Even when people are on the same platform, they can have different levels of intent for different verticals. For example, a D2C high fashion customer might have high buyer intent when watching videos on YouTube, whereas B2B SaaS customers likely would not.
With so many options, it can be hard to decide which types of media gives the most bang for your buck. Especially since there’s no single magic bullet that delivers best results for every company, the ideal choice depends upon your audience, sales cycle, budget, and market consideration. That said, here are three trending types of paid media that leverage buyer intent.
1. Search ads for high-intent keywords
Ever since the launch of Google AdWords in 2000, brands have been using search ads, but their results are mixed. According to Databox, conversion rates on Google Ads today average 4.2%, but high-performing ad accounts should see rates of 5-10%. It’s not easy to hit those kinds of numbers though. Wordstream research found that in 2022, search ad conversion rates declined across 91% of industries year-over-year, while costs per lead (CPL) rose.
The secret to top sales performance with search ads is to use high-intent keywords that target people who are serious about purchase rather than simply browsing for information or considering their options. These are also called transactional or commercial keywords, to distinguish them from informational or navigational ones. They tend to be more detailed, and include words like buy, for sale, subscribe, discount, free shipping, open now, near me, and so forth.
For example, a search for “best women’s running shoes” might surface content for a number of product pages or landing pages from smaller specialist shoe shops. But a search for “Women’s Brooks running shoes size 8” brings up the Brooks website as a sponsored result at the top of the SERP, together with links straight to the women’s running shoe section and shortcuts to their local stores. Clearly, Brooks is only targeting high-intent search queries, and isn’t wasting money on informational queries.
It’s not always easy to identify high-intent keywords for your brand, but a keyword intent research tool like Semrush can help. Just enter a list of keywords and review Semrush’s intent analysis, which ranks each keyword as either informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional. Alternatively, you can enter a seed keyword like “running shoes,” set the filter to only show commercial or transactional keywords, and see which variants it produces.
2. In-store retail media ads
Retail can be a highly competitive market, especially verticals such as groceries and fashion. Consumers are influenced by many factors, so it’s hard to be sure that your ad campaign will still have an impact when they are in the store, making their purchase decision.
This is the root of the appeal of in-store retail media ads, because they arrive at the moment of highest purchase intent. The customer is in the store, so we know they want to buy, and they are close to the point of purchase. That’s why in-store banners, signs on shelf edges, and “buy one get one free” stickers on products are still there – because they work.
As a result, in-store retail media is skyrocketing. Retail media is predicted to reach $125.7 billion in 2023, and to overtake TV ad revenue in 2028, by which point it will represent 15.4% of total ad revenue. Grocery chains are adding to their in-store retail media capabilities, with Kroger bringing its in-store retail media to 500 stores.
Newer digital ads leverage context to drive even greater conversion rates. For example, Cooler Screens’ digital ads on refrigerator doors advertised Vita Coco’s coconut water to shoppers who were debating what drinks to buy, driving a 16% increase in units sold.
Brands and retailers can use a solution like Shopic to serve ads on smart cart screens at the moment of highest purchase intent. Shopic utilizes retail media analytics to show promotions when the customer is in the relevant aisle or has placed a particular product in their cart. For example, if a shopper just added a jar of peanut butter, they might see a notification about a special offer on jelly. Shopic claims that these promotions drive 29.6% conversion rates.
3. ABM ads on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is possibly the favorite ad channel for B2B brands and advertisers, but that doesn’t mean that every LinkedIn ad hits its target. According to Metadata’s LinkedIn ad benchmarking analysis, the average click-through rate is 0.67%.
Account-based marketing (ABM) targeted ads are what help you enjoy higher conversion rates, because they allow you to leverage intent as a type of retargeting technique. You can create custom lists of companies who’ve indicated intent, and then configure your campaigns to serve customized ads just to that list.
Indications of intent include spending time on your website or on specific pages of your website like your pricing page, or checking out your profile on G2 or Capterra. This shows that they’ve already done some research, are nearing the end of their decision journeys, and are potentially interested in your solution.
Tools like Albacross make it easy to research intent. Albacross uses a reverse IP lookup database to tell you which companies visited your site or stayed on a particular page. You can sync the resulting list with your CRM to produce a custom audience list, and upload that to LinkedIn to use for your ABM ads.
Buyer intent is waiting in many different channels
Buyer intent is the secret sauce for ad conversion success, and you can find it in many different types of advertising media. It’s all about taking the time to learn about your audience and understand their intent signals, so you can use the best advertising type to convert leads and drive revenue.
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