The Capitol Heights

Your Band & Promotion: Banner Ads

Posted 06-27-2016

Promoting your music online can be – err… one of the most non-rewarding things on the planet. It is extremely difficult to get new fans outside of friends and family to stick around. It often feels like you are alone in the digital universe, pushing around the quintessential ones and zeros around until your brain starts to resemble something like morning oatmeal. We have been trying to get to the bottom of, not only, how to effectively promote music on the internet, but how to promote music to the right people.


Banner Ads

This may very well be the first step in most people’s journey. A lot is attributed to the little known and improperly thought of planet called banner ads. People often shoot blanket statements into the air like – “Oh, that site makes its money off advertisement” or “I will slap an ad on there and X will happen”. I would like to correct these ongoing misunderstandings by saying this: It is the people who look at the ads who are important and not the ads themselves. Remember that. Banner ads are not the end all, be all of promotion. It is a sexy idea that doesn’t get the proper attention of most people and is often an afterthought of a, failed from the beginning, marketing campaign.

That is not to say banner ads aren’t useful promotion tools – or they don’t make anyone money. They are only successful if they get in front of enough of the target demographic. Let that sink in for a moment. It may be common sense – but even when this is taken into consideration it is easy to launch a misguided web promotion campaign centered around banner advertisement.

In order to make the most out of an online banner ad campaign, there are a few things you must do. Targeting ads to people who like music should be obvious, but make sure you are also targeting the correct music listener. Who does your music appeal to? If you have Google Analytics set up, a ReverbNation page, or a Facebook page, you should be able to identify the age, sex, and gender of the people who visit your pages. This is key in making sure you are hooking the right potential fan if they so happen to click on your ad.

There are other things you can do to make sure you are pinpointing your ideal fan when serving banner ads. It is important to set up a target area for your ads geographically. In most advertising tools, you are able to serve your ads to a set of countries, cities, and even narrow down to a particular radius. If you are doing most of your gigs in, let’s say, Charlotte, NC – you can make sure you are only serving up ads to people in that city.

And now to the fun stuff.

Our band took the time to create an ad campaign using two popular online advertising vendors: ReverbNation Promote It, and Google AdWords. They both have nice tools for creating responsive banner ads, though we will mention ReverbNation’s won in the looks department. To keep thinks fair we used the default banner ad tools (assuming most DIY bands would rather spend time elsewhere instead of learning how to create responsive and eye catching banner ads). You can view the ads created by each respective tool below:

Reverb Nation Promote It Ad
Google AdWords Ad

We also set up the same budget for both tools – 5$ a day. Below are two charts depicting the results of each respective campaign. In the first chart, you will be able to compare the total impressions of each tool. An impression, by definition, is considered when your ad is served on a given network. The second chart illustrates the number of clicks your ad received by day in each tool.



The big takeaway from the information above is the cost per each impression and click is drastically lower for Google AdWords. When you take into account we spent 5$ a day (70$ total) for each tool, it is apparent Google AdWords is significantly cheaper based on the results. It cost us about 1/5th of a cent every time our ad was served with ReverbNation Promote It, but Google AdWords only cost us 1/14th of one cent – almost three times cheaper. Overall our ad was served about three times as much with Google AdWords over ReverbNation Promote It (32,959 vs 92,088).

While those numbers look overwhelmingly in favor of Google AdWords, impressions don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. We care more about who actually clicked on our site (and who hopefully looked at our site for a while). Google AdWords beat out ReverbNation Promote It in terms of cost per click and total clicks. ReverbNation cost us $5.38 per click and Google rung in at 11.5 cents per click. ReverbNation only logged 13 total clicks during the amount of time we spent 70$ versus Google who got us 605 clicks.

The Conclusion

The data above seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of AdWords. Every day we were able to get a higher number of views and clicks that reduced the cost per click to our website. Great right?

Before you go out and start setting up a Google AdWords account, let me caution you. The ReverbNation ads are highly targeted – meaning they reach a smaller set of people. This is both a good and bad thing. The ReverbNation tool is set up so the views and clicks are more valuable because they reach a very specific set of music listeners. This causes you to get smaller, but more valuable (and expensive) results. The only problem is there is no way to customize your target. In the targeting aspect, I would prefer to use the Google AdWords promotion. It is a more transparent tool that allows you to tweak every detail of you campaign. On top of all that information – I did seem to notice ReverbNation ads appearing in normal AdWord locations on some of the target sites. While we have no way of knowing how they actually work – it looked like the Promote It tool was a glorified middle man to Google AdWords. With that being said – I am sure ReverbNation has some connections to get your ad in places AdWords will not – but that is pure speculation.

What can we say next? After all of this effort and looking at juicy numbers… Thinking to ourselves “all of those people seeing our name.. clicking on our ad!! We must have a hundred more fans now!”. We have to look at the results. We didn’t see any marked change in our fanbase or feel an added listener presence. What gives? The issue is there is no real way to identify the problem. You are tossing out an ad (of which most people hate and ignore) and hoping to reel someone in. It is like you are fishing – only way less successful than actual fishing. It may simply be the fact people just don’t pay attention to ads – or on the conspiracy side of the equation – ad companies fake results. Or maybe it is because we have an extremely small fan base and people pay more attention to things they recognize.

All in all – this experience has made us come to the conclusion online marketing campaigns using banner advertisement is a relatively weak means of getting new fans. The culmination of the above has lead us to believe these advertisements only work for the big boys that have a foothold in the industry already and have the funds to cast a widely larger net than us.

Thank you for reading the first article in the series Your Band And Promotion. We are working hard to help DIY musicians get the most out of their time and effort so check back to read more about what has and hasn’t worked for us in the promotion realm.

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