Online advertising: What’s the future for small business?

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Facebook’s latest changes to its layout creates more problems for small business using social media, as the real estate available on its site for eyeballs gets smaller.

 

The social media giant has been catching criticism recently for changes to its algorithm that make it harder for businesses to be seen online.

 

In the hospitality industry, discontent was articulated by the Eat 24 website, which closed down its Facebook Page after finding the problems too hard.

 

With the changes to the online advertising feed, it makes it even harder for small business to be seen on the platform as reduced space means higher prices for the space that remains available.

 

It’s hard to see small businesses getting much traction with the changes when they’re up against big brands with large budgets.

 

On the other hand for the big brands, the importance of proper targeting becomes even greater.

 

A challenge for small business

 

The big problem now for small business is where do you advertise where the customers are?

 

A decade or so ago, this was a no-brainer – the local service or retail business advertised in the local newspaper or Yellow Pages. Customers went there and, despite their chronic inefficiencies, they worked.

 

Now with Facebook’s changes, it’s harder for customers to follow small business and this is a particular problem for hospitality where updates are hard.

 

The failure of Google

 

Google should have owned this market with Google Places, however the service has been neglected as the company folded the business listing service into the Plus social media platform.

 

Today, it’s hard to see where small business is going to achieve organic reach – unpaid appearances in social media and search – or paid reach as the competition with deep pocketed big brands is fierce.

 

Services like Yelp! were for a while a possible alternative, but increasingly they are stitching up deals with companies like Yahoo! and Australia’s Sensis, which marginalises small business.

 

So the online world is getting harder for small business to get their message out onto online channels.

 

For the moment that’s a problem although it’s an interesting opportunity for an entrepreneur – possibly even a media company – to exploit.

 

This article first appeared on SmartCompany.

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