Content, SEO, email marketing, unpaid social media. Low-cost, organic, awesome. But at some point most companies who want to stay profitable are going to have to start putting some real money into straight-up advertising.
And really, in some ways, advertising has hardly changed. The principles are the same, the delivery methods continue to evolve.
A display ad on your favorite blog has something in common with a full page magazine spread, and the ads showing up on YouTube don't look too different from the same TV ads your grandpa muted all his life.
And this year? It's all about weaving an experience from different forms of media, both new and traditional, to create one, cohesive brand story. Hopefully one nobody wants to mute.
Look to some of these resources to help you finish out 2018 with a bang, and to navigate your way into 2019.
2018's Best Digital Advertising Blogs
Follow these blogs to get a steady stream of fresh ideas for your ad campaigns.
1. The Marketing Smarts Podcast
Okay, so maybe I'm cheating. This is, after all, a podcast and not a blog. But if you'd love to get some incredible advertising tips from a wide variety of marketing experts, this is a good place to start.
Recent episodes include:
Jam-packed with insights from around the world and plenty of news for those who are trying to stay on top of the ever-shifting realities of the digital ad space.
3. AdEspresso from Hootsuite
If you've followed this series long enough you know what I love. Actionable posts, lots of screenshots, and plenty of troubleshooting. AdEspresso has it all. As one might expect from a social media marketing tool, this blog focuses mostly, but not solely, on social media ads.
Another blog jam packed with actionable posts. They're easy to read and easy to follow. They'll help you make good decisions. And they're full of funny pop culture references. What's not to like?
5. PPC Hero
You'll find more than just a blog here. Many of the posts are out-and-out tutorials, and they post webinars on a regular basis.
2018's Best Digital Advertising Articles
Some fantastic posts from around the web.
What's the Best Digital Ad Campaign for Your Budget? - If you're overwhelmed, unsure where to start, and worried about getting the biggest bang for your (limited) ad buck, this is a great post to start with.
How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Costs and Get Better Results - Facebook provides a ton of self-service opportunities for advertising, but how do you know if it's effective? This post provides some great insights into budget and reporting.
Why Use Google AdWords? Here’s 10 Reasons Why - This post highlights the value, reach, granularity, and power of the Google Adwords platform. For most specialists, this is straightforward knowledge, but helps you craft your value prop for how you can get clients to budget for it.
It Takes a Village: Story Creation in the Digital Age - I'm hard pressed to boil this insightful article down to a few sentences. But if know storytelling has to be part of your strategy but are struggling with just how you are going to go about doing it, this article is a great place to start.
How to Integrate Online and Offline for the Best Possible Result - There are some excellent points here. After all, if digital ads were the only ads performing we wouldn't see billboards on the highway anymore. Those are still around, so why not think more about bringing the entire strategy together?
11 Ways to Completely Ruin Your Pay Per Click Advertising - PPC is easy to get wrong. But by avoiding these major issues you'll be that much closer to getting it right.
15 Clever Interactive Print Campaigns That Can Compliment a Digital Campaign - Learning from brands who have done something new, cool, and effective is always helpful. This post will show you a series of campaigns that move effortlessly between the physical and digital worlds. Maybe you'll get some ideas for one of your own!
So What Exactly is a Smart City? And Why Do Marketers Need to Know? - Here's an exciting article that's about as forward-looking as it gets. Or is it? Some innovative marketers are already right on top of the Smart City Trend. The "Internet of the Real World" means "Digital" advertising can go light years beyond a Facebook display ad.
2018's Best Digital Advertising Tools
There are zillions of options. Everyone's got their favorites.
Frankly, your very best best is to go to Capterra's Digital Ad Category or G2 Crowd's Digital Advertising Category since that's where other users like yourself will explain their personal experience.
But these stand out as tools worth checking out.
Voila Norbert - Elected the most accurate email finder out there according to Ahrefs. Whether you’re trying to reach out to influencers, build marketing connections or get in touch with blog editors, Norbert’s got you covered.
Optmyzr - Helps PPC marketers stay more productive. Provides tools for creating more profitable campaigns. You'll get instant optimization suggestions even as you build out your campaigns.
Wordstream - Feel like your PPC campaign is a big black hole eating all your money? This tool will analyze what might be going wrong with your campaign.
NinjaCat - Automate performance reporting for multiple platforms and track phone leads with the help of this powerful tool.
Optimizely - Experimentation is the key to a great digital ad campaign. Optimizely makes it easy to conduct yours. Another neat feature? The platform it provides for team collaboration.
Monetate - A powerful personalization solution. Can work for those just getting started with personalization or can help strengthen existing campaigns.
2018's Best Digital Advertising Influencers
Following these folks will help you keep your head in the game.
Brian Meert - CEO of AdvertiseMint and author of The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising. If you do a lot of advertising on Facebook, or plan to, you'll want to pay attention to what he has to say. Follow him at @brianmeert.
David Szetela - CEO of FMB Media. A certified expert on PPC Advertising. He's been featured in major publications and wrote a book. Follow him for info about Google AdWords, BingAds, Social Advertising, etc.
Alexandra Tachalova - Founder of the free online digital marketing conference, Digital Olympus. Check out her articles on the conference blog, or just follow her Twitter account to tap into tons of great info.
Andrea Vahl - An author and speaker, Andrea can tell you a lot about advertising on social media. In addition to all of her other accomplishments she serves as a Facebook advertising consultant and coach, teaches a Facebook ad course, and offers "done for you" services. Her Twitter account is full of great stuff for marketers and aspiring agency owners alike. You'll find it at @andreavahl.
2018's Best Digital Advertising eBooks, Whitepapers, and Other Resources
Ready to take a deeper dive? Here are a few resources that'll help.
The Digital Advertising Stats You Need for 2018 - Published in January, this guide went over everything that happened in 2017 to give you strategic insights to use this year. Take a look now, then look for the next one in January of 2019.
Blockchain for Video Advertising: A Market Snapshot of Publisher and Buyer Use Cases - Many digital advertisers now use blockchain to reduce fraud, to get more accurate impression counts, and to solve a host of other problems. Read all about it here.
Paid Search Tactics that Drive Quality Inbound Calls - For those who use digital ads specifically to get the call, or the click-to-call.
PPC University by WordStream 0 A fantastic collection of beginners to advanced selection of courses, whitepapers and terminology that can help with both strategy and tactics. It's an impressive library of information
These were my favorites, anyway. How about you? Did you see some awesome resources or tools this year that I missed?
Let me know in the comments below!