online marketingThere’s no one-size fits all approach to online marketing, at least not anymore. Some companies require a tailor-made SEO strategy to boost their search rankings, while others benefit from a PPC and re-marketing campaign.

Of course, what’s best for advertisers, publishers, and readers are rarely the same thing. In 2015, many popular websites moved away from traditional display advertising, opting instead for a new kind of content marketing.

Branded Content Was Huge in 2015

Satirical news site The Onion relaunched this year, placing a new emphasis on brand-sponsored verticals with custom content. So too are sites like BuzzFeed and opting for branded content, which is written for a specific advertiser. Sometimes these content marketing campaigns are combined with a prominent “hero” display advertisement, sometimes not.

“Display advertising just isn’t an effective strategy as we build a media company for this generation,” said Mic CEO Chris Altchek in 2014. Despite saying then that the site would phase out display ads, so far that hasn’t happened. And not all successful publishers agree with this approach to digital advertising, like Mashable chief revenue officer Seth Rogin.

“Display advertising on Mashable works, and we know that because advertisers who buy with us are voting with their dollars and coming back time and time again,” Rogin told AdAge this December. “I don’t think putting all your eggs in one basket is a good idea, in terms of serving brands and serving readers…All of these things can be powerful.”

Branded Content Was Huge in 2015

But How Do You Find the Right Basket?
Rogin is correct when he says you can’t put all your internet marketing eggs in one basket. So where do you put your internet eggs, and is this really the best metaphor to use here?

While massive multinational corporations can afford to spread their online marketing budget around, local and small businesses need a more targeted approach, like email marketing combined with local SEO, or pay per click ads combined with social media outreach. Then there’s content marketing, which can play a role in all of these strategies. Many online marketing agencies agree: content marketing can generate three times as many leads for less than half the cost of traditional outbound marketing.

One thing is for certain: no matter what kind of strategy they ultimately choose, more companies are spending more of their marketing budget online. In fact, some estimates project that online advertising will surpass TV ad spending sometime in 2016.

Branded Content Was Huge in 2015

Voting With Your Dollars
If we assume that companies spend the most money on online marketing strategies that provide the highest ROI, then it’s helpful to see where that money is being spent. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s market reports, search advertising like PPC is still king of the hill. In the first half of 2014, search ads added up to $9.1 billion, 39% of all internet advertising. If you add mobile search ads into the mix, that number grows to $11.8 billion. And you can expect the mobile market to keep growing, since mobile devices accounted for 52% of all search ad clicks.

There’s no doubt online marketing will have another boom year in 2016. The only question is, what kind of online marketing?