By simply accessing the Internet frequently and observing different Web site designs, advertising campaigns, and the increasing number of e-commerce sites, you can gain an insight into the field. Contact advertising workers and set up information interviews. At the interview ask them questions about their educational backgrounds, what they like about the work, what important skills someone wanting to enter the field should have, and any other things you are interested in knowing about this work.
Obtain experience in advertising by working on your school newspaper or yearbook or by finding a part-time or summer job at an advertising agency that specializes in digital advertising. You can also create an online advertising campaign for a real or imaginary product or service. Consider creating a campaign for your favorite video game, your favorite app, or a smartphone.
The work of digital advertising professionals varies depending on their place of employment and the project at hand. One major area of work for digital advertising workers is the revision or creation of a company’s Web site. If the Web site already exists, digital advertising workers study it to determine its effectiveness in advertising the company’s products or services. They might ask the following questions: Is the site attractive to potential customers? Is it is easy to navigate? Is there enough information available about the products or services? Is purchasing a product easy? Are there any features that may deter customers from completing a purchase? How does the site compare to those of competitors? Once these questions are answered, the workers revise and revamp the Web site, or create a new Web site, to align with the company's advertising goals.
Digital advertising professionals that create a new Web site for a company also consider the company’s design elements, user interface, purchasing interface, and the actual products or services that will be advertised. Digital artists, art directors, photographers, graphic designers, stylists, and copywriters may work together to collect images and create merchandise presentations and product descriptions that stay true to the retailer’s brand.
Advertising workers are responsible for implementing an e-commerce strategy that addresses concerns such as retail competition, special promotions, and the overall performance of the site. They must identify the company’s potential market (teens who like to play video games, young parents who are interested in using online investing services, etc.), customer’s expectations regarding a Web site (state-of-the-art graphics and vivid colors, quick-loading pages, a straightforward, conservative look, etc.), and customer’s buying habits. Customers who shop online typically have very different buying habits than those who purchase products in brick-and-mortar stores. For example, a customer who shops online might like the immediacy of being able to shop at home, but may also be seeking quick delivery options or a large selection of products from which to choose. Others may use the Web site to conduct research, but follow up by purchasing the product on the telephone or by visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
Specialized workers help create and oversee Web sites, ensure that customers can locate them via search engines, and seek out advertisers who might be convinced to tout their products or services on a site.
Web developers determine the overall goals, layout, and performance limitations of a Web site after receiving input from marketing, sales, advertising, and other departments. They design the site and write the code necessary to run and navigate it. To make the site, working knowledge of the Internet programming languages such as Perl, Visual Basic, Java, C++, HTML, Python, and XML is a must. The developer must also be up to date on the latest in graphic file formats and other Web production tools.
Internet advertising designers, also called interactive advertising designers, create advertising features for client Web sites using text, animation, and sound. They design graphic symbols and logos and revise existing designs for Web use. Designers often use animation or music clips on a site, for example, as part of the home page. They work with writers and Web developers to design promotions, such as surveys, quizzes or other games, to encourage users to revisit the site. Internet advertising designers not only design and implement traditional advertising techniques on the Web, they are also responsible for making sure the advertising is effective. They constantly check the number of "hits" received by the site, but also find ways to keep users engaged on the site. Engagement is key in getting users to keep coming back to a site. User comments and other responses are monitored by Internet advertising designers and the site’s Webmaster to keep content fresh and exciting.
Webmasters maintain and update Internet Web sites. They have working knowledge of network configurations, programming languages, digital design, software development, business, writing, marketing, and project management.
Another aspect of digital advertising is search engine marketing. Search engine marketers (SEMs), also known as search engine optimization specialists, are responsible for ensuring that clients’ Web sites score high on search engine results. They research a client’s products or services, and develop advertisements using concise descriptions and keywords that will place their company’s Web site high in search rankings. SEMs optimize ad campaigns with the most effective keywords so potential consumers are directed to the client’s Web site during a search—the ultimate goal is to rank as high as possible in a search engine’s top 10 results. SEMs are skilled at using HTML coding and analytical tools such as Google Analytics or Adobe Marketing Cloud.
Pay per click specialists (PPCs) place, or imbed, a client’s advertisement on an existing Web site, often in the form of an image or banner. PPCs research sites, or content providers, that have an interest or relation to their client’s business. For example, a PPC representing clients who sell video games may contact the online manager of a video game magazine’s Web site to convince him or her to place banner ads or sponsored links at the site. Clicking on these banners or links will direct the user to the advertiser’s Web site. PPCs regularly monitor log files to determine the number of visits or "clicks," and then pay the content provider accordingly. Other digital advertising workers, such as community managers, specialize in working with social media.
There are many other types of advertising workers. These professionals work at advertising agencies or in the advertising firms of digital media companies. The following paragraphs describe a few of the most common career paths.
Contact department personnel are responsible for attracting new customers and maintaining relationships with existing ones. Heading the contact department, advertising agency managers are concerned with the overall activities of the company. They formulate plans to generate business, by either soliciting new accounts or getting additional business from established clients. In addition, they meet with department heads to coordinate their operations and to create policies and procedures.
Advertising account executives are the contact department employees responsible for maintaining good relations between their clients and the agency. Acting as liaisons, they represent the agency to its clients and must therefore be able to communicate clearly and effectively. After examining the advertising objectives of their clients, account executives develop campaigns or strategies and then work with others from the various agency departments to target specific audiences, create advertising communications, and execute the campaigns. Presenting concepts, as well as the ad campaign at various stages of completion, to clients for their feedback and approval, account executives must have some knowledge of overall marketing strategies and be able to sell ideas.
Media buyers, often referred to as space buyers (for newspapers and magazines), time buyers (for radio and television), or Web buyers (for Internet and tech devices) do the actual purchasing of space and time according to a general plan formulated by the media director. In addition to ensuring that ads appear when and where they should, buyers negotiate costs for ad placement and maintain contact and extensive correspondence with clients and media representatives alike.
While the contact, research, and media departments handle the business side of a client's advertising campaign, the creative staff takes care of the artistic aspects. Creative directors oversee the activities of artists and writers and work with clients and account executives to determine the best advertising approaches, gain approval on concepts, and establish budgets and schedules.
Copywriters take the ideas submitted by creative directors and account executives and write descriptive text in the form of headlines, jingles, slogans, and other copy designed to attract the attention of potential buyers. In addition to being able to express themselves clearly and persuasively, copywriters must know what motivates people to buy. They must also be able to describe a product's features (such as those offered in an iPad or Kindle) in a captivating and appealing way and be familiar with various advertising media. In large agencies, copywriters may be supervised by a copy chief.
Copywriters work closely with art directors to make sure that text and artwork create a unified, eye-catching arrangement. Planning the visual presentation of the client's message, from concept formulation to final artwork, the art director plays an important role in every stage of the creation of an advertising campaign.
Art directors must have knowledge of graphic and digital design, computer software, printing, the creation of print and e-publications, animation, photography, and filmmaking. With the help of graphic and digital artists, they decide where to place text and images, choose typefaces, and create storyboard ads and videos. Several layouts or working digital versions are usually submitted to the client, who chooses one or asks for revisions until a layout or conceptualization sketch meets with final approval. The art director then selects an illustrator, graphic artist, digital designer, animator, videographer, photographer, or TV or video producer, a