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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Choose between a variety of ad format (video, photo, carousel, text, in-message and more).
- Advertise specifically, concentrating efforts in certain areas to drive business growth.
- 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:
1. Facebook Advertising
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:
- Core Audience – Use basic criteria such as Age, Interests and Geography,
- Custom Audience – Advertise to people who have previously engaged/shown interest in your business,
- 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:
- Photo Ads
- Video Ads
- Lead Ads
- Story Ads
- 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.
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.
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:
- By creating ads on your Facebook Page and promoting them on Instagram and Facebook simultaneously,
- By creating ad campaigns in the Facebook Ads Manager, allowing you to gain access to the highly intuitive audience targeting capabilities,
- 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:
- Shopping Posts
- 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.
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.
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.
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 uses 5 core goals for their ads platform:
- Website Clicks – Focusing on more traffic to your website.
- App Downloads – Promoting your apps and getting more user downloads.
- Awareness – Solely focusing on maximising reach by promoting tweets.
- Tweet Engagement – Focusing on getting people to engage with your tweets, promoting them for likes, replies and retweets.
- 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.
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:
- You Pick – Pick a pin to promote, making it appear in the most relevant of places,
- You Decide – Set your demographic targeting to decide who gets to see it,
- You Pay – Choose to pay for engagements or website visits,
- 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 Results Page (SERP). But why should you advertise on search engines?
- Ads appear before any organic results.
- On average, for every $1 advertisers spend on Google Ads, they make $8.
- You can outrank your competition who may have the same ranking terms as you.
Using paid search advertising, you can capture the attention of your desired audience, of people searching terms that you sell for. For example, if a flower company in London sells roses and somebody searched roses London, you want to be found first.
Search ads can also contribute to enhancing your audience targeting and target demographic analysis. You can analyse your ad results to outline your audience, the age ranges, location, time of activity and much more.
Google uses keywords to deliver your ads to the right person. Basically, when you setup your ads you create certain groups, ie. “Flowers” and in this group, you will type any keyword phrases that are linked to flowers, so this could be “Roses”, “Lily’s”, “Orchids” and anything else you wish to group. Keywords can also be long-tail keywords that will be more specific, “Blue lilies in London” for example. With your keyword groups created, whenever users on search engines enter your keyword or something similar to your keyword, you can be at the top of their results page. Search engines such as Google use audience targeting capabilities such as social media platforms but in addition to having keywords that you can choose to rank for.
Therefore, due to this added feature of using keywords, performing a keyword analysis is incredibly important for your search ad and its performance. Typically, keyword research and keyword analysis have shown importance in organic search, but it plays a big part in paid search advertising.
Notably, when using search ads on Google, it goes a step further and takes search intent into consideration. Search intent can define what type of ad the search engine displays. Search intent plays a big role in location-based searching, for example, if you are looking for local flower shops, it will use your location and can pin companies in the area that sell flowers, giving priority focus to those that have been promoted with ads. Location-focused ads are one example of what Google offers; you can also add additional features such as shopping post ads.
For e-commerce B2C companies, you can have ads that directly link to a product page, displaying your product at the top of the SERP with its price. Google uses the search intent of the user, if the user intent is wanting to buy, then Google knows that the user will be interested in making a purchase, and display product results accordingly.
Understand search intent is an important feature of paid search advertising, therefore, Google offers 5 ways in which you can describe the intent of your keyword, whether your keyword is open to interpretation, whether it should be exact, negated or more. The match types you can set are as follows:
- Exact Match – Your ads will only be displayed if and only if the search term includes the exact keyword (or a very close variation). You can include exact match keywords by wrapping them in square brackets [Keyword].
- Broad Match – If the search term contains either a combination of or a variation of your keyword, in any order, your ad will be displayed.
- Phrase Match – If the search term contains your keyword in the same order that you have stated, even if there are additional words, your ad can be found. These types of keywords are listed with “quotes” surrounding it.
- Broad Match Modifier – This is modified upon the broad match type; you can select keywords that must be in the search query for your ad to be displayed on the SERP. This match type uses a + sign.
- Negative Keywords – If you do not want your ad to display on certain terms and searches then you can indicate negative keywords. Negative keywords include a – sign.
Search Platforms – Google, Bing, Yahoo
You can use paid search advertising on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, the competition is fewer than social media, but most of the searches are concentrated on Google. There are 3.5 billion searches per day on Google and in 2019, Google had 92.18% of the market share, proving Google to be the most important search engine for focusing your paid search ads on. Even though Google does bring in six times more searches every day than Bing and Yahoo combined, there are still strong reasons not to rule the others out.
Different industries and businesses will have a variety of demographics, some of which will commonly use search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. Notably, when you purchase new computers and laptops that run on windows, then the default search engine is Bing, as opposed to Google, which you have to manually change. This may be unknown to the older generation, therefore, by running smaller search ad campaigns on Bing or Yahoo you may generate good results.
I would advise you to check your website’s organic user analytics, you will be able to determine where your users are coming from, whether that may be Google, Yahoo or Bing. If you see strong support in some of the alternative search engines, then you may benefit greatly from a wider audience on those platforms. Importantly, knowing how advertising on one search engine works, knowing why it works and the process of it, you will find similarities on the other platforms and how they work, so there is no reason not to try them out, especially if you notice your users coming from those other search engines.
Why should you use Paid Search Advertising?
- More than 40% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads in a search result.
- More than 95% of clicks to go the top 4 search results.
- 82% of smartphone users are actively searching for businesses near them.
- PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase than organic visitors.
Figures from Valveandmeter.com
Display Advertising & App Culture
Display ads have traditionally been on the controversial side of the ad spectrum, mostly known for causing spam and even to have malicious intent that cause viruses. Many online users have setup a form of ad block to stop these ads from coming through entirely. However, display advertising has many benefits and when trusted and setup correctly, it can have a myriad of benefits.
Two main ad networks that are paving the way forward for trusted display ads are the Google Display Network and Facebooks’ Audience Network. Using these systems, you can display ads at the right time, in the right place and to the right people.
1. Google Display Network
Google offers a lucrative offer with using their display ads, due to the company’s partnerships, by using their display ads you can create visually appealing ads and have them placed over two million websites and apps, over YouTube and Gmail. These are key areas that millions of people use every day.
Display ads are typically more invasive and in-your-face than traditional paid search ads, however, they make perfect use when you focus on retargeting an audience that are already familiar with your brand.
2. Facebook’s Audience Network
Facebook’s large audience network can be utilised in an effective way, pushing your ads across a variety of platforms, to be seen by millions of users. Companies can specifically place ads, banners, in-stream videos and more on the network’s websites and apps, that are frequently visited by their target audience. We saw this commonly in mobile games, where you are rewarded in-game if users watch a small video.
Getting Started with Online Ads
Getting to know and understanding online ads can be a lot to take in. With new social media networks being born and current networks diversifying how you can advertise; it is easy to get caught up in all the different means of online advertising. However, all you need to do is to focus on what works for your company to help achieve your goals and meet your objectives.
With a combination of market research, understanding your ads and trial and error, you can craft the perfect cocktail for online ads that works with your business, your products and your services. If you wish to understand more, or to have any help with using online advertising and making the most of what social media and search engines have to offer then you can check out Absolute Websites here.