What is digital advertising? The answer to this question is likely more complicated than you expect. In short, it is paid marketing communication delivered through digital or electronic channels. However, this digital advertising definition only means something if you understand the differences between marketing, promotion and advertising.
Marketing, Promotion and Advertising Definitions
Marketing is a business process that includes research and development, promotion, transactions and service. Promotion, also known as communication, is the phase of marketing that consists of message delivery to a company’s target market in an effort to persuade.
Within promotion, there are three major categories: Advertising, public relations and personal selling. Advertising is distinct from the other forms in that it is paid communication through mass media. Like other forms of promotion, the objective is to persuade targeted prospects or customers.
Digital Advertising Definition
Back to the original question, “What is digital advertising?” Like non-digital or traditional advertising, it consists of paid communication. The digital or electronic communication platforms used for delivery is what distinguishes it from traditional media campaigns.
Also, just as advertising is a form of marketing promotion, digital advertising is a form of digital marketing promotion. Digital marketing and its components are subcategories of the broader umbrella of marketing as well.
Digital Advertising Channels
There are numerous electronic communication channels that fit within the digital advertising definition. These platforms include display, paid search, sponsored social media and in-game advertising (or advergaming). Companies can advertise through all of these channels on both traditional Internet devices and mobile.
In reality, the vast majority of investment in digital advertising campaigns occurs through display or banner ads and paid search Display is now the dominant format according to the eMarketer chart below.
There is even more evidence that digital ad spending is heavily concentrated in the graphic below from eMarketer. In 2017, Google and Facebook accounted for 63.1 percent of all the money U.S. companies spent on digital advertising campaigns.
As promised, the answer to the question, “What is digital advertising?” is more complicated than it seems at first blush. However, even though digital has now surpassed television as the king of ad spending in the United States, the power for delivery lies in the hands of a small number of major media companies.
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