Are brands investing too much on online advertising?

online advertising

Sri Lanka is fast catching up with global trends in online advertising. Companies are less reluctant to invest in digital strategists and online marketing experts. Faith in the digital landscape is only becoming firmer.

Social Media Specialists, SEO writers, and AdWord experts are emerging. The job market for these individuals is expanding. Therefore, it goes without saying that Sri Lanka is past the consideration phase in the funnel of moving to the digital landscape for marketing.

However, when discussions on company budgets make an entrance, the finance department has more doubts than assurances about the ROIs in online advertising. Are the large boosting budgets really making an impact on driving sales? Are we investing too much on Google, Facebook and Instagram?

What does the data tell us?

These questions will always be there. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer to any of them. From a distance, the digital ad sector seems to be in excellent health. The US is projected to spend nearly $120 Billion on digital marketing by 2021 while India also shows a positive trend in the percentage increase investments in digital marketing. While a number of agencies have attempted to generate conclusions on the growth of digital marketing in Sri Lanka, there is still to be a solid fact sheet on its trends. At least not with clearly defined demographics and channels. However, a general observation made on the number of digital marketing related job opportunities that are available in the country, it can be said that the sector is indeed growing.

And yet there are growing concerns about digital, and in particular, if brands might have moved too quickly to shift money away from more traditional formats and jumped on new digital tech too soon.

What is really meant by online advertising or digital marketing?

Online advertising is probably a very primitive way to define digital marketing. That’s however among the most searched and competitive keywords according to Google AdWords.

Some companies believe that having a frequently updated Facebook page equates to good digital marketing. Social Media Marketing is definitely a big part of digital marketing, but alone, it can do very little.

Having an effective website is the first and most important step in investing in digital marketing. While there are a number of opportunities to develop a website at a very low cost, these may not be the best options. This is if you want more than just a URL to include under your name. Developing a website can be done in an affordable way if you know how to go about it.

Once you have a website you believe in, then it’s time to dive into the extensive ocean of digital marketing.

Dive into the ocean…really?

Digital marketing is pretty much like the ocean. It is vast, it has many parts unknown, it can surprise you and you may need a special apparatus to navigate through it carefully.

If you’ve ever done scuba diving or a more complex form of ocean exploration, you’d know that it is expensive – at least for it to be a real experience.

Similarly, digital marketing can be expensive. Worth it? Yes. Cheap? Not really.

So investing in digital marketing is a good option

Not always. Sometimes, it’s completely useless.

There are a number of factors that you have to consider before making this call.

Do you really believe that human behavior responds to the concept of digital marketing?

Studying human behavior is hard as it is. Trying to evaluate the impact of digital marketing on human behavior seems like a really stupid thing to even try to do.

But if you do understand some basic concepts about people, this isn’t too hard.

While people need love, touch and a sense of home, they also need information. Nope, information isn’t a want, but a need. How sophisticated this information should be is highly dependent on personal preference. But information, we all love it.

And what better way to give people information than through their phones and computers?

Your product

  1. What are you selling?
  2. Who are you selling it to?
  3. How much of your product do you want to sell?
  4. How much money do you want to make?


Basically your USP, your TG, and your Profit Margins. If your product is doing fabulously well without digital marketing, you may actually not need it.

However, this statement is quite time sensitive. You may not need it today, but your financial reports next year may suggest otherwise.


Getting a little closer to the answer

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can get a rough idea about whether digital marketing is for you.

Ideally, you should have adapted your business in such a way that the final answer becomes a yes – but if you’re not there yet, you are not there yet.

I am there. Now, what do I do?

If the stars are pointing to you to invest in digital marketing, you now need to understand how much are you to actually invest in it?

20% of your marketing budget?

50%  of 90%?

If someone comes out right and tells you a figure, you can be assured that it is a poorly made judgment. There is no way to tell if you’re investing too much or how much you should invest without studying your business first.

This process may take a week, month or a few months. It really depends on how big your brand is, how much data you have and how much you want to know.

No matter how long and hard the process seems, getting this information will be extremely valuable to the overall progress of your company. This would allow you to re-strategize your marketing initiatives, make better use of the digital space and ultimately do better as a business.

How do I begin the process?

To be honest, everything about the digital space can be learned. With a decent internet connection, a fast learning ethic and unwavering commitment, even you can figure out if your investments in digital marketing or online advertising are worth it.

But, an expert may be able to do a better job and do it more efficiently.

The choice is really up to you.




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