As we become increasingly dependent on the internet to find and connect with new businesses, business owners are shifting more and more of their local marketing online. While there are plenty of free ways to promote your business, paid online advertising is often worth the investment and can amplify the impact of your non-paid marketing efforts.
Online advertising has become a foundational strategy for small businesses looking to appeal to their target audience – with options available for marketing budgets both big and small.
Creating the right online advertising strategy comes down to understanding your options and how they might work best for your business.
In this post, we’ll explore six of the most popular types of online advertising, how they work, and their pros and cons to help you understand the best approach to creating a successful local marketing strategy that incorporates a healthy mix of online ads.
1. Get seen on search engines with search engine advertising
We all know the value of the first page of Google or Bing. The ultimate goal is for your business to rank on the first page for queries relevant to your business and business keywords so you can get seen by more searchers and drive more people to your website. This takes a successful SEO strategy.
Successful SEO strategies take time, a lot of work, and a lot of technical knowledge of how search engines and websites work.
A quicker way to show up on search engines is with search engine ads, also known as search engine marketing (SEM), search engine advertising, paid search advertising, or pay per click advertising (PPC).
How search engine ads work
In order to get your search engine ads to show on Google, Bing, or other search engines, you have to bid for specific keywords. When a person performs a search using one of the keywords you’ve bid on, your ad will show up on the search engine results page (SERP). You’ve likely noticed these ads on your favorite search engine.
The inner workings of search engine advertising are a little complex – but essentially, you’re competing with other bidders for keywords, and search engines will look at specific factors like your Quality Score and relevance to determine which ad to show.
Pros and cons of search engine ads
Search engine ads are effective in part because they are targeted toward an audience who wants what you have to offer. If a person is willing to click on an ad to see your page, they’re more likely to convert into a customer than someone who stumbles upon your page while searching.
One perk of SEM that is often overlooked is the access to data it provides. Search engines want your ads to succeed (a proper ad makes for a pleasant user experience), so they provide useful analytics to help your campaigns. (Although, Google has recently limited some of the data you can see.)
While search engine advertising isn’t just for large companies, it can be expensive, so it’s best used when the lifetime value of your customer is high or with a smart bidding strategy in place. It’s also best when used in addition to your SEO strategy to help you boost your presence on search engines.
2. Increase brand awareness with display ads
Display advertising involves placing display ads on pages across the web. Display ads, like search engine ads, are linked to a specific page on your website.
How display ads work
Sometimes called banner ads (because of the long, narrow shape they often take at the top of pages), this type of online advertising enables you to put your ad on specific pages across the web – oftentimes you can choose a site related to your business, either by topic or location. They can appear on the top, bottom, sides, and even in the middle of the content on a page.
You can also target your display ad to specific demographics to further refine your display advertising campaigns.
Pros and cons of display ads
One of the benefits of display ads is that it allows you to get in front of people when they’re spending time online and not necessarily searching – this helps you increase awareness for your brand and provides another touchpoint in part of the digital customer journey.
Because display ads are meant to increase brand awareness, you may not see the same direct return on investment that you would see from search engine ads, but display ads have been found to boost the effectiveness of your SEM campaigns.
Display ads can sometimes fade into the background, so the design of your ad is important. You’ll want to create display ads that stick out and appeal to your target audience to encourage clicks to your site or landing page.
In general, display advertising is effective at getting your business seen on popular sites online.
3. Get social with Facebook ads
With a large user base (more than one billion active users worldwide), unique targeting options, and multiple ad placement choices, Facebook advertising is an online advertising strategy that provides a fantastic way to reach your target audience directly on this popular social platform.
How Facebook ads work
Facebook ads come in many shapes and sizes and can appear on both the Facebook desktop News Feed and mobile/app News Feed as well as Instagram (which we’ll cover in detail in a second).
To run a Facebook advertising campaign, you determine the objective for your ad (Facebook has outlined predetermined objectives for you to choose from), your target audience, and your budget. From there, you would design and create your ad and send it out into the world for people to click on and/or engage with, depending on your objective.
Pros and cons of Facebook ads
Facebook advertising helps you increase brand awareness, build your audience on Facebook, and drive users to your website. Facebook even has an advertising objective that allows you to collect leads directly through the platform – Facebook Lead Ads.
The only downside to Facebook advertising isn’t really about Facebook ads at all – it’s that if you don’t run Facebook ads, you might have a hard time growing your audience or seeing many results from your organic Facebook marketing efforts.
But, luckily Facebook is a cost-effective type of online advertising. WordStream found that the average cost per click for Facebook ads is only $1.72.
4. Get even more social with Instagram ads
Although Instagram is part of Facebook, it’s worth its own mention. Instagram ads are a great type of online advertising for getting in front of an engaged audience.
How Instagram ads work
Whether you choose to advertise through a single image, a carousel, or a video, an effective Instagram ad can entice your target audience to take an action – either by tapping through to your profile or visiting your website.
Pros and cons of Instagram ads
Instagram ads give you a great way to engage your target audience. Because Instagram ads are run through Facebook, you have access to advanced targeting options that allow you to reach people most likely to become your customers.
In the past, Instagram ads were found to have a slightly higher cost than Facebook ads, but you can now make adjustments to where and how your ads are shown to maximize your online advertising budget.
5. Become a star with YouTube advertising
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, and more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on the platform every day, making it an important part of a successful online advertising strategy.
How YouTube ads work
YouTube (which is owned by Google) provides different options for your YouTube ads to show on the platform.
This, coupled with advanced targeting options, allows your business to determine the right YouTube advertising strategy to maximize your budget.
Pros and cons of YouTube ads
Speaking of budget, YouTube ads are a cost-effective type of online advertising, with the average cost per impression ranging from $0.10-$0.30. We go into detail on the cost of YouTube advertising here.
One of the cons you might find for YouTube ads is that – depending on the ad type you choose – your ad can be skipped. The upside to this, however, is that you’re only charged for the ads that are viewed, giving you a couple of “free” seconds of advertising before someone hits the skip button.
All in all, YouTube ads can help you drive users to your website and increase awareness for your local business on an extremely popular platform.
6. Stay top of mind with retargeting ads
If you’ve ever had the, “Hey, I was just looking at that” reaction to an advertisement, you’ve likely been retargeted.
How retargeting ads work
This type of online advertising involves showing display ads to users who have already expressed interest in your business, such as by visiting your website, liking your Facebook page, or subscribing to your email list. Retargeting ads can appear on the same sites as typical display ads but can also appear on Facebook. (Retargeting is sometimes referred to as remarketing.)
Pros and cons of Retargeting ads
Retargeting is effective because you can specifically court users who have already shown an interest in your business, leading to increased conversion rates.
Retargeting ads can be a bit unsettling to users, but most people have grown used to them at this point, so the benefits outweigh any potential negatives.
Which type of online advertising is right for you?
With so many free ways to promote your business out there, it’s easy to overlook advertising, but investing in the right online advertising strategy can accelerate your growth and increase your ROI.
If you’re looking for guidance on the right types of online advertising to try for your business, we can help. Reach out for a free digital marketing assessment today, and our marketing experts will provide a roadmap for your online advertising strategy.