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Direct Response vs. Branding in Online Advertising

Online advertising goals generally fall into one of two categories: direct response or branding.

Direct response

If your goal is direct response, you’d like a user to perform an action after clicking through your ad to your website: make a purchase, sign up to a newsletter, or request a quote, for instance. The completion of your desired action by the user is called a conversion.

To manage your online advertising strategy and costs, it’s useful to define a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) that you’d like to achieve per conversion. You’ll then be able to monitor the performance of your ads to ensure that they’re meeting your CPA goals.


If your advertising goal is branding, your main reason for advertising online is to raise awareness and visibility of your product, service, or cause. To achieve this, you’ll want to aim to place your ads in front of as many people as possible within your target audience.

Use cases

Although just about anyone could use online advertising for any reason, here are some of the best use cases:

  • An online retailer without a physical store location:
    Use online advertising to drive traffic to your website. Show ads both in response to relevant keywords on search engines and on content webpages that your target customers would be likely to visit.
  • A small business that cannot afford expensive, traditional advertising methods:
    Use online advertising to narrowly target your ads to a particular audience, and to closely control your costs and track your return on investment (ROI).
  • A large business that would like to build brand awareness:
    Show image ads or multimedia ads on content webpages that your target audience is likely to spend time on.

Article courtesy of Google (https://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/static.py?hl=en&guide=23303&page=guide.cs)

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