Most of the top Internet advertising players focus primarily on marketers that spend enough on advertising to warrant hiring an ad agency. This makes sense, in consideration of the 80/20 rule and other such tenets of business. But there's obviously another way to skin the proverbial cat.
Paid search plays like Google and Overture boast customer bases that number in the tens of thousands (and, if trends continue to bear out, soon this will be hundreds of thousands). Obviously, Google and Overture have taken the 'lower sales volume from a higher number of advertisers' approach to the market. Surprise, surprise - They're doing very well with it.
As proponents of online advertising, we tend to take the approach that the portals take. That is, we're concentrating on the big fish. To an extent, this approach has started to gain traction after the dot-com bust. We've heard quite a few announcements from major marketers about increased budget allocations to online media as of late, and that's where organizations like the IAB have been concentrating their efforts - on proving to marketers that online deserves a larger portion of the budget. We're getting there, slowly but surely.
But what if the demand came from the small business market as well?
Small businesspeople have traditionally been risk-takers. They're also usually quick to jump on new opportunities and latch on to things that give them an advantage over competitors, whether those competitors are big or small. Perhaps the charge toward increased demand from online advertising will come from the small guys. Stranger things have happened.
Search players like Google have obviously placed faith in smaller advertisers. Where the portals have brag lists of major, multi-billion dollar companies that have advertised with them, Google and Overture have single sentences about the sheer number of folks who have advertised with them. Why have they had this success with so many? They've made it easy for people to advertise with them.
Take a look at how simple it is to pull off a campaign with Google's AdWords. First things first, advertisers don't need art directors, designers, or people who know how to make Flash banners or animated GIFs. They simple need to be able to write some short, concise copy.
Furthermore, there's no minimum spend. Sure, advertisers who spend less than $5,000 per month need to self-administer their campaigns, but that's easy. Contrast that with portal sites that don't like to return phone calls if an advertiser isn't prepared to spend at least $5,000 - $10,000 a month.
In this way, paid search players tap into a huge market that otherwise wouldn't even play the online advertising game. Really, the genius of paid search's success lies in its simplicity.