Ten years ago home improvement companies used newspaper and Yellow Pages advertising to reach the home­owner searching for windows, siding, roofing, etc. TV and newspapers delivered the homeowner who wasn't actively searching but could be prompted to action by a promotion.

Digital media have changed that. Today's searching homeowner is far more likely to look for a category online where he can get lots of information with just a click.

Beyond Search

Savvy home improvement marketers know this and target the searching home­owner with optimized free ranking or pay-per-click advertising that puts the company's three-line ad on the first page of search results. But how do you reach out to the homeowner who may be in the market but isn't actively searching via keywords?

The answer is pay-per-click display advertising. These ads, on websites most likely to attract the demographic you want to reach, bring you the mass audience once available only by newspaper, radio, or TV. But to get their attention, you're going to need more than a three-line Google Adwords ad. You'll need space, graphics, animation, and an offer.

Just remember: 1) You can produce an animated ad without a Pixar budget. 2) The offer is critical. And 3) Link your ad to a landing page where you can make the offer. Steer them to your homepage and they're gone.

Get Started

Google Adwords search network lets you define your market, monitor results, and control your expenditure. The Google display network offers that same precision.

Decide on an offer, create a landing page that explains it and converts for the lead, then go to Google. Enter your best description of the prospect you wish to reach and Google's database will recommend websites that deliver him. Google analytics lets you identify the sites that perform best and adjust your placement accordingly. You get the reach of TV for nowhere near the cost.

?John Stevens is a partner in Peterson Stevens, www.petersonstevens.com, an agency specializing in lead generation and brand building for home improvement products and companies.