Ultimate Guide to Online Ads for Businesses

The Ultimate Guide to Online Ads for Businesses in 2021

Online ads have become an integral part of our daily lives, no matter if we like them or not, it is the small price we pay for being able to use free social media and search engines, such as Facebook and Google. Whether you are aware of it or not, you will have come across an ad, clicked on one and, most likely, purchased something because of an ad. This ultimate guide sets to lay out how you can best tackle the online world of advertising and make money for your business.

Due to the rise of ad spend and online competition, companies are ad targeting has become more accurate and specific, most likely, you will see an ad that meets criteria that you like, whether that may be about dog food, blenders or a type of software, ad relevance has never been greater.

As a business, it is important to utilise advertising platforms like social media as it makes it a lot easier for you to sell. Think of it as a huge market with billions of people attending, all you must do is narrow your criteria down to people who will most likely benefit from your business and you can advertise to each one of them. Social media provide these types of online markets, full of consumers who are actively looking to buy.

The online ads landscape has changed in recent years, now more than ever we have a multitude of advertising channels, ad targeting capabilities have enhanced, new platforms have emerged and ad types have changed. If you are interested in learning about online advertising, then let us dive into it.

All you need to know about online ads can be categories into the following:

Online Advertising vs Organic Marketing

Online ads, often seen as the counterpart to organic marketing and SEO, can actually provide a myriad of benefits and work in synchronisation with marketing organically. Although it is partially true, when you grow your business organically, you focus on creating blogs, building communities, sharing content and engaging with your audience, while focusing on metrics such as traffic and conversions. Whereas, with paid ads, you focus on metrics such as cost-per-acquisition (cost per click, cost per impression and more) and return on ad spend.

Yet, this does not mean the two are entirely separate, with digital ads, your organic marketing can also benefit from the following areas:

  1. Content Learning – By running ads, you optimise for the best performing content, this can then help you when creating organic content to appeal to your market audience.
  2. Brand Awareness – Running ads allows you to grow your reach, displaying your content to those outside of your network, bolstering your brand awareness with the potential of return customers, organically.
  3. Audience Analysis – Paid advertising campaigns will provide you with a greater understanding of your audience, you can see what type of person reacts best to your online ads.

Therefore, it is evident that by running online advertising campaigns, your organic outreach and efforts can also benefit, creating an omnichannel marketing approach. So, now we beg the question, what are the types of online advertising?

Types of Online Advertising

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising can be your best friend and has the potential for great success if your advertising is done right. Going back to our market analogy, the social media realm is one big market, all connected and is visited daily by billions of users around the world. In 2020, there were over 3.6 billion social media users, with just under 2.8 billion active users on Facebook, over 1 billion active users on Instagram and over 330 million active users on Twitter.

These figures present a significant fact, that people are actively on social media, whether for networking, business, talking to friends or other reasons. This provides businesses with a huge pool of potential consumers to sell to, however, it is not a simple as that. Companies can utilise the sheer magnitude of social media users by running specific ad campaigns that are targeted at much smaller segments of the market (if you wish to avoid racking up a heft advertising bill). Because of ever-growing social media activity, global advertising spend on social media is reaching all-time highs. In 2020, ad spend reached over an incredible $300 billion.

So why is social media advertising so beneficial? You can:

  1. Choose between a variety of ad format (video, photo, carousel, text, in-message and more).
  2. Advertise specifically, concentrating efforts in certain areas to drive business growth.
  3. Advertise to specific target audiences using advanced ad-targeting algorithms.

This article will focus on 8 popular social media networks, discussing the type of audience that each social media specialises for and the different ad types available on each social media. Just like your online ads, each social media has a specific audience and purpose, where it is business-orientated like LinkedIn or video-driven such as TikTok. The social media networks that will be covered are:

It makes sense to start with Facebook, the social media giant that has an active user base of around 35% of the world’s population, with just under 2.8 billion active users. Due to the magnitude of users on Facebook, your business is almost guaranteed to have the right audience available to you, no matter your industry.

Because of the gigantic user base that Facebook holds, their ad targeting platform is one of, if not the most, developed out of all social media. Ad targeting capabilities and potentials are extremely advanced, allowing your business to filter out and create content for a highly specific audience. Facebook define their audience criteria in three different types:

  1. Core Audience – Use basic criteria such as Age, Interests and Geography,
  2. Custom Audience – Advertise to people who have previously engaged/shown interest in your business,
  3. Lookalike Audience – Target new people whose interests are similar to your already known best customers.

The importance of advertising on Facebook is that their advanced targeting capabilities allow your business to tap into newer audiences, that you would otherwise be unable to reach organically. For companies that do not advertise globally, it is important to understand what social media network is commonly used for the country. For example, in Cyprus, over 80% of the population actively use Facebook, highlighting the importance of utilising this platform in Cyprus, for businesses.

Facebook offers the following ad types:

  1. Photo Ads
  2. Video Ads
  3. Lead Ads
  4. Story Ads
  5. Messenger Ads

Each different ad type has a specific purpose and advantage, depending on if you wish to capture leads, increase brand awareness or whatever your objectives are. Photo ads are one of the most common types, brilliant for sharing images or a collection of images in a carousel format, whereas video ads are brilliant to use to explain products and to generate engagement.

One unsung hero ad type would be Facebook lead ads, this form of online ads is especially great, particularly for those countries that show a high Facebook usage.

Facebook Digital Marketing & Web Development Ads Examples

Using the lead ad type, you can both convey visual content whilst also capturing leads, directly on Facebook. This works well if you do not have a website to capture leads or if you wish to get leads by minimising steps taken for the user. Lead ads allow you to identify potential customers, collect subscriber information for future retargeting campaigns, encourage PDF downloads (whitepapers, guidelines, brochures and more), understand audience demographics and sign people up for certain programmes.

The potential of Facebook lead ads allows businesses to make the most of the audience data, providing customer information, interest and audience demographics.

Another type of advertising on Facebook that is growing in traction and relatively new are Facebook messenger ads, also known as in-message advertising. The effectiveness of messenger ads is highlighted by the fact that over 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger every month, creating a perfect platform for businesses to drop their information in.

Facebook Messenger offer the following advertising strategies:

  • Call-to-action in Ads – You can start conversations with ads directly in Messenger which also include call-to-action buttons to send a message.
  • Story Ads – You can run story ads directly on Messenger Stories.
  • Facebook Messenger Ads – Get your ads and content directly in chats via Messenger Ads.

Utilising Facebook ads is best supported by a combination of ad types, you can also try out a variety of formats to see which one your audience best reacts to. Depending on the user’s journey and when they are ready to act, different ad types may complement these different stages.

For example, advertising on Facebook Messenger can be highly beneficial for retargeting purposes, this allows you to set the tone of the conversation with a potential customer you know has already shown interest. Additionally, it adds a personalised touch by sponsoring ads in-message to customers that have already interacted with your business.

Auto-responder Facebook Messenger for Businesses

2. Instagram Advertising

Instagram is another widely used platform, especially for people between the ages of 16-35. Social media advertising on this platform can be extremely beneficial and produce a positive return on investment for B2C (business-to-consumer) companies. With over 1 billion monthly users, Instagram has grown into a social media network that provides a successful environment for marketers to utilise.

Due to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012, you are able to manage and advertise on Instagram directly through your Facebook Ads Manager platform, this can be particularly helpful if you are also running Facebook ads and you wish to see your ad performance all in one place. Instagram provides 3 main methods of advertising:

  1. By creating ads on your Facebook Page and promoting them on Instagram and Facebook simultaneously,
  2. By creating ad campaigns in the Facebook Ads Manager, allowing you to gain access to the highly intuitive audience targeting capabilities,
  3. By promoting posts and stories directly from your professional Instagram account (business account).

Personally, our experts would recommend taking advantage of the incredible ad targeting technology that Facebook Ads Manager offers, so option 2 would be best for your advertising campaigns.

Instagram’s Ad Types are:

  1. Photo
  2. Video
  3. Story
  4. Shopping Posts
  5. Ads in Explore

The ad types, similar to Facebook, can help you promote your products and services effectively to potential customers. Interestingly, shopping post ads and ads in explore offer some unique functionality and can generate unique rewards for your business. For example, ads in explore have the benefits of placing your products or services directly into a newer market, the Instagram Explore Tab is used primarily for people to explore their interests via new content creators, by advertising here, you will be displaying your brand in front of a whole new audience.

Instagram general image advertisement

Additionally, shopping post Instagram ads is a unique feature that allows you tag an image of your products, showing the name and the price of the product and a link from the tag directly to where you can purchase the product.  This feature keeps users engaged and gets them to a point of sale instantly, a highly effective tool to help sell your products online via advertising.

Instagram e-commerce product advertisement

3. LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn is the go-to social media network for most B2B (business-to-business) companies. The platform holds over 660 million monthly-active users that consist of working professionals. LinkedIn’s ad campaign manager provides an effective audience targeting system that precisely targets by job types, industry, company type and more. Thereby, when drafting your ads campaign, if you know the type of business professionals that purchase your products or services, then you can accurately target them via LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is also a great place to advertise due to its lead gen forms, directly on their platform, that allow you to capture leads from business professionals instantly. Because the social network is used to highlight your job roles, you can target as such and, by using their lead gen ad format, you can quickly build up a series of leads helping your business convert better.

Additionally, LinkedIn offers an in-message form of advertising. Their Message Ads allow you send direct messages to prospects and potential customers to help provide an immediate response. LinkedIn’s network is based on a series of connections to other business professionals, building up a community of working individuals who can help each other out, using their Message Ads format, you can bridge the gap from your business to theirs.

LinkedIn in-message ad format

4. Twitter Advertising

Advertising on Twitter is typically not as common as the other mentioned social media networks. This is due to the strong performing organic reach of posts, with trending hashtags, you can promote your brand organically to a large audience. Nonetheless, a lot of companies have found great success in using Twitter for advertising, especially e-commerce and B2B companies. The fact that Twitter sees over 330 million users per month, with ages typically ranging from 35-65, there is a lot of potential for people to market to via Twitter advertising.

Twitter sponsored advert for brand awareness

Twitter uses 5 core goals for their ads platform:

  1. Website Clicks – Focusing on more traffic to your website.
  2. App Downloads – Promoting your apps and getting more user downloads.
  3. Awareness – Solely focusing on maximising reach by promoting tweets.
  4. Tweet Engagement – Focusing on getting people to engage with your tweets, promoting them for likes, replies and retweets.
  5. Followers – Using ads to promote your Twitter account to get more followers.

5. YouTube Advertising

YouTube should not be overlooked! Video content has been growing significantly and has proven to generate great results, and where better place to look for videos than YouTube? Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, with the first place being Google? YouTube has over 2 billion monthly users, therefore, by using it as an advertising platform, your ads are bound to be seen and be acted upon.

YouTube allows you to target specific demographics, planting video ads in videos that your users are watching, this allows you to promote your business via an array of videos similar to what you have to offer and amongst related topics.

Ads on YouTube appear either before or during a video that is being watched, additionally, your promotional ad video can also be displayed after performing a search.

6. Snapchat Advertising

Don’t forget Snapchat. If you’re selling products or services to a younger audience, from 18-24 year olds, then Snapchat may just be your go-to. With over 265 million users, your business is bound to be seen with Snapchat advertising. Interestingly, this social media network can offer augmented reality (AR) advertising which is especially unique and engaging. Some of the ad types that Snapchat offers are:

  • Story Ads
  • Sponsored Tiles in Discover
  • Augmented Reality

AR advertising through AR lenses can help create interactive moments that users can share with their communities. Augmented reality allows businesses to augment a product, to display something that doesn’t really exist like this image below. This form of advertising is unique and effective for businesses to utilise.

Augmented reality Snapchat advertising

7. TikTok Advertising

TikTok has taken the world by storm and is the new player on the block. This social media network focuses on video content, with over 500 million monthly users creating videos for their communities. Due to the early stage that this social media is in, TikTok focuses primarily on spreading and boosting brand awareness, rather than generating leads directly.

TikTok consists of a younger audience, therefore, by promoting your brand you can build and connect with a younger generation. TikTok hosts a range of videos but they are usually far from professional, focusing on social trends and humour, therefore, if your brand can make a community laugh, then you will do well on TikTok.

8. Pinterest Advertising

This visual-based social media network is unique and effective for advertising on. Pinterest consists of over 450 million monthly active users, 60% of which are women. This platform offers something a bit more unique, where users are constantly seeking ads from brands. Adverting on Pinterest can be done in 4 simple steps:

  1. You Pick – Pick a pin to promote, making it appear in the most relevant of places,
  2. You Decide – Set your demographic targeting to decide who gets to see it,
  3. You Pay – Choose to pay for engagements or website visits,
  4. You Track – Track and analyse the Pinterest ad performance, making changes to benefit,

Pinterest can work extremely well for businesses that use a lot of visuals to sell and that have great visuals that can promote their work.

Paid Search Advertising

Paid search advertising is the other half of online ads, using paid search ads can help your company be found on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and more. Whenever someone searches a term that you want to be found for, you can show as the first link at the top of the Search Engine Re