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Introduction to Digital Advertising on Google, Facebook, & More

Let’s talk about digital advertising on popular platforms like Google and Facebook! There are so many great options available to entrepreneurs, but you don’t want to dive in blind, so we’ve put together this – your intro to digital opportunities. You’ll find helpful information here, so you can understand your options and find the best digital advertising solution for your business!

This is the fifth article in our series for business owners and marketers, titled, “Build Your Business.” If you haven’t read Business BasicsWays to Get OnlineSocial Media Basics, No Cost Websites, or the Series Overview, start there!

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Why Use Paid Digital Advertising?

For business owners, paid digital advertising can seem incredibly confusing. With free, organic avenues for spreading your message online, what benefit does paid advertising bring?

The reality is that paid digital ads are one of the most cost-efficient ways to advertise – if you know how to plan and execute the right strategy. There are two major reasons that you should consider starting a digital advertising plan right now:

#1. Digital Advertising Sends You Website Traffic, Instantly

A website only benefits your business if it receives traffic. But it’s more than that – your website needs to qualified visitors that are interested in your service or product. It’s easy to understand why a website with no traffic is useless. But a website that only receives accidental traffic or searchers from outside of your market area nets you the same thing: nothing. (For tips on how to get visitors to your website, check out our free e-book: How to Get More Website Traffic.)

Digital ads increase traffic to your website in two ways. The first is by targeting relevant consumers that could potentially convert into customers. Digital advertising can be targeted directly at the demographics and profiles that fit your customer.

That means your entire digital  advertising budget is being spent on the right people, saving you potentially thousands of dollars.

Secondly, digital ads make it easy for potential customers to find your website. When you advertise on Google, you don’t have to worry about ranking in the search engines – you can pay your way to the top of Google’s list. You can also advertise on social media and appear in your target customers’ Facebook feeds. Either way, a digital ad is a one-click doorway to your website, making it extremely easy for visitors to find your website online. (You might be interested in Generate New Leads

#2. Digital Advertising Brings In Data

Digital advertising gives you a mountain of great information about your target audience. Popular advertising platforms give advertisers insights and key details about keywords: what keywords people search for, how many people search for each keyword, the location of people who search for that keyword, and countless other information.

Information is vital if you want to build your business online. You want to know who wants your service, where they are located, and when they search for your service online.

Digital advertising rewards you with more than sales – it also gives you feedback. Savvy business owners can analyze their advertising data to answer questions like:

  • What type of messaging and tone generates the best response?
  • Which cities are most interested in what I’m advertising?
  • Which ages, genders or income-levels are most likely to respond to my advertising?
  • Which service do I offer that returns the most leads?
  • Which months and which days of the week are people most likely to look for my services?

And that’s just the beginning! Take an in-depth analysis of both the information offered by these ad platforms and the results of your campaigns to learn more about your customers. You’ll find ways to target the right people so your advertising costs less and sells more.

Google AdWords & Search Engine Ads

For new businesses, search engine marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are popular ways to get started advertising online. SEM allows you to spend money to have your results appear in favorable positions on a results page.

When you appear depends on the target options of the platform, but primarily are focused on keywords. These are the words or phrases people enter into the search bar.

Don’t be fooled by how simple PPC platforms are to setup, though. Effective PPC advertising is difficult and competitive. If you don’t do your research, you can easily throw your money down the drain.

There are three major search engines for SEM marketing:

Google AdWords

Naturally, Google’s search engine marketing platform is the most popular – due to the popularity of the search engine itself. If you’ve ever used Google, you’ve seen the ads. They’re the results at the very top – either text ads or a few images, depending on your search.

AdWords has multiple formats for their ads. Each format has different strengths. Here are some of the most popular types of ads:

Text Ads – Simple text ads require just some short copy and a direct link to a page. These are easy for even small businesses to setup, and are extremely common.

Image Ads – These ads fill select spaces on websites that display AdWords ads. While they’re noticeable than text ads, they require more work to produce and low-quality visuals can hurt your brand’s appeal.

Video Ads– Video ads, like image ads, show up on partner websites. If you have short, eye-catching videos for your business, these can be incredibly powerful tools to generate interest and drive traffic.

Product Shopping Ads – For businesses selling products, product ads are a strong option. Display a photo, name, price and your store name when users look for products you carry.

They type of ads you choose depend on the services you offer and your resources. If you lack the experience and tools to create a compelling video, you’re often better off using text ads or image ads.

Cost of Google AdWords

Due to its scalability, it’s easy to budget for AdWords. Unlike some other digital advertising options, you only pay for clicks. If 100 users see your ad, but only one of them clicks it, you’re only charged for the one that clicked.

Because you can control what you’re willing to pay per click, you can set your limits and your expectations based on your available budget.

The average cost of a click on AdWords is around one to two dollars. However, this can vary dramatically depending on your industry, your ads, your keywords and your competition.

Effectiveness & Value

Google AdWords is one of the largest platforms for digital advertising available online. In addition to having the biggest share of search traffic, AdWords ads display on over two million of websites across the globe.1 For entrepreneurs like yourself, that means you’re likely to reach a majority of your core demographic in your service area.

Like most digital advertising platforms, AdWords offers you the ability to directly focus on demographics that matter most to you. The targeting options are robust to help you only show your ads to the most relevant users available.

Screenshot of Google AdWords targeting options.

Campaigns can be small-scale, which means you can hop into AdWords with a limited budget and still effectively drive traffic to your website. Simple ads, like those that display in search results, can be produced quickly too. You won’t need to be a graphic designer to create search ads, which helps you get started sooner.


While Google has the lion’s share of search, Bing is used for around one million searches per day. Many business owners that already use Google find it more valuable to add Bing to their marketing budget instead of increasing their AdWords spends after a particular threshold. Even if you aren’t spending on Google, you shouldn’t rule out Bing before giving it a close look!

With many of the same features as AdWords, Bing is just as effective at capturing search without breaking the bank. In fact, the reduced competition on Bing often means lower costs per click – so you build more traffic for less.

Bing also imports your Google AdWords campaigns – you can transition in minutes.

Cost of Bing

Using the same bidding system as AdWords, Bing costs operate similarly. Lower competition can have a big effect on your actual costs – for specific niches, you may find Bing to be far more financially effective. Some companies have achieved conversions that were over 60% cheaper than similar ads on Google AdWords.

Effectiveness & Value of Bing Ads

Just because Bing has fewer users than Google doesn’t mean its ad platform is less valuable. While features change all the time, Bing does offer some unique options to control your campaigns at a more granular level. When every penny in your marketing budget counts, this can make a massive difference.

Bing is used for more searches than you may think. Every day, an estimated 874,000,000 searches are performed using Bing. While that’s about a quarter of what Google receives, it’s still a significant volume!

With potential for lower costs and a new, unique audience that your competitors may not be targeting, it’s worth giving Bing ads a try.


Another competitor in the search arena, Yahoo’s advertising is largely tied into the Bing Network. This means ads run through Bing can display in search results of Bing and Yahoo, along with the variety of partner sites included in the network.

In addition to that, Yahoo Gemini is a unique ad system exclusively for the Yahoo platform. Obtaining two billion ad impressions per day, Gemini offers several ad options; these include standard ads such as search or video ads, plus unique offers such as Tumblr-sponsored posts and Yahoo mail advertisements.

Cost of Yahoo Ads

Like Bing, lower competition benefits Yahoo Gemini in lower costs to reach your customers. Campaigns can be scaled to your budget. Larger budgets can generate more volume – but small entrepreneurs can still find value.

Effectiveness & Value of Yahoo Ads

Not unlike Google, Yahoo benefits from its network of connected services to generate robust user profiles. From Yahoo Mail to search behavior, Yahoo ads can be targeted to your ideal customers at a relatively low cost.

If you’re already running Google AdWords campaigns, you can import their details to help quickly jump into Yahoo advertising. Like Bing, it’s a valuable way to spread your message to even more people in your service area in a budget-friendly way.

Facebook & Social Media Platform Ads

Social media usage has exploded in recent years. In 2005, only five percent of American adults used any social media platform. By 2011, that rose to almost 70 percent.1 Many of these users check in over ten times per day.

The advantages of social media are more than volume, too. Each platform has mountains of targeting data for you to use. If you know your ideal demographic, you can direct your digital advertising dollars to minimize your budget while maximizing your potential leads.

Not every platform offers advertising. The ones that do use systems unique to their platform. You can’t run the same types of ads on Facebook that you can on YouTube. One of the first decisions you need to make is which platform works best for you.


The king of social media. Facebook’s current userbase is close to 1.9 billion.2 Of those users, it’s estimated that nearly 70 percent of them use the platform each month, and 18 percent each day.2 Facebook’s self-serve ad system is robust and growing – it adds new features and tools every year.

All that’s required to run an ad on Facebook is to have your own account and a valid source of payment. There are a variety of ad types to choose from; each with its own unique benefits.

Ads range from videos that display directly in the newsfeed to smaller image ads that display off to the side. You can focus on mobile users, desktop users or both. Targeting options are nearly endless, with information pulled both directly from users and financial or personal data that Facebook’s receives from its partners.

Example of Facebook Advertising’s demographic targeting tools.

Most importantly, Facebook rewards your advertising with important data that’s invaluable to your business. It can be used to better understand your customers and improve your future ads.

Cost of Facebook Ads

Most ads on Facebook are placed using a bidding system, which allows you to vary your costs to fit your own budget. You can start ads for as little as five dollars per day.

Effectiveness & Value of Facebook Ads

One of the biggest advantages of Facebook advertising is that you should be on the platform anyway. Most modern customers expect to find you on Facebook. Combined with its easy self-serve platform and wide variety of options, its ads are a fantastic option for any business.

The effectiveness of the platform is entirely dependent on the two big factors: your content and your targeting. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to test similar ads against each other, known as A/B testing. This gives you insight into the best ways to promote your business, so you can generate leads and take advantage of Facebook’s extremely low costs.


The largest channel exclusively for video, YouTube is as much of a household name as Facebook. It boasts over 1.3 billion users. Hundreds of hours of videos are uploaded every minute.3

Video ads are a popular option on YouTube; but you don’t need videos to take advantage of the platform. YouTube offers display ads and overlay ads that can appear beside the video or as overlays on the video itself.

YouTube ads can display on any videos that have ads enabled – an option called “monetization.” With some of the best targeting options available in digital advertising, you can easily find the right audience for your business.

Cost of YouTube Ads

A typical YouTube ad costs about 10 to 30 cents per view. Your targeting, content quality and overall goals would impact this.

Effectiveness & Value of YouTube Ads

One major benefit of YouTube video ads is that you’re only charged per full view. That means if someone skips your ad before it finishes, you don’t have to pay. Unlike other social media advertising that charges you per view, this lets you know that your advertising isn’t being skipped over at your expense.

YouTube ads have significant reach. With the rising popularity of video and video ads, it behooves any business with quality videos to try their hand on the platform. Remember to keep your videos clear, concise and informative.


Advertising on LinkedIn is a more recent option, and one that is often underappreciated by businesses of all sizes. LinkedIn is unique, in that it caters specifically to professionals. For service industries that target businesses for larger contracts, it could be a goldmine of potential.

The userbase is smaller than competing platforms, with around 70 million registered users. However, almost 50 percent of those users are considered “decision-makers” for their businesses.4 Opportunities to reach these users are few and far between, which adds significant value to LinkedIn ads.

Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn ads are in their relative infancy. That means limited options. You essentially have two types of ads: newsfeed posts, which show up as promoted posts similar to other user posts, and smaller banner ads off to the side.

Cost of LinkedIn Ads

Your ability to target key professionals comes at a price. Typical cost per clicks of LinkedIn ads can be higher than other social media platforms. Expect to see costs around two dollars to five dollars per click. Currently, LinkedIn also requires a minimum of 10 dollars per day to run a campaign.

Effectiveness & Value of LinkedIn Ads

Despite being more expensive, certain businesses can find significant value in LinkedIn ads. The biggest winners for digital advertising on LinkedIn are companies that sell B2B. LinkedIn makes it easy to target people based on their professions, whereas other platforms focus on non-professional hobbies and interests.

Sponsored InMail is also a unique option available through LinkedIn. This lets you send personalized messages directly into a user’s inbox. These ads are direct, like e-mail, while also taking advantage of LinkedIn’s focused demographic targeting tools.

Paid Business Listings & Directories

After most businesses list their company in the big directories, they often forget about them. But these frequently used platforms typically have their own options for paid advertising too.

Angie’s List

One of the first business review websites to launch in the US, Angie’s List hosts millions of members. While you can create a business listing for free, you can also advertise your business to help build awareness.

Like PPC ads, an Angie’s List paid advertising plan will place your company above the organic results in the search. It also makes your certification, Super Service Award, reviews or special discounts much more visible.

Competition for paid advertising varies by category and location. Targeting options are much more limited, focused essentially on your geographical location and the ZIP codes that are relevant for your business.

Cost of Angie’s List Ads

The advertising costs of Angie’s List are often negotiable. There are no set fees, as they are set based on other businesses in the area and general location costs. Most users report costs from $200-1500 per month.

Effectiveness & Value of Angie’s List Ads

Your results with these ads often depends on how well your business is reviewed on Angie’s List organically. Because members use Angie’s List to find reputable businesses, a paid account might not help you if you have few or no reviews.

It’s also recommended to offer a discount coupon. In the past, this was required. Now, it’s simply a good way to encourage users to give your business a closer look.

Before you finalize your digital advertising, try to negotiate your fees with your sales rep. Reportedly, many business owners received discounts of 20 to 40 percent off their costs.


Every business owner knows Yelp. The popular review site gives consumers everywhere the ability to leave their thoughts on your business. Like other sites that exist for companies, Yelp offers owners the opportunity to spend money to help promote their business.

Ads on Yelp can show in a variety of locations, including search results that would be relevant to your services, and on competitor’s business pages. You have the choice between self-service and full-service ads. The main differences with full-service ads are featured videos and call tracking.

Cost of Yelp Ads

It’s important to note that Yelp ads are based on a cost per thousand (CPM) value. So, you pay based on the number of times your ads are shown, not clicked. Unlike other digital advertising options like Google AdWords, you can spend your entire budget without earning a single click.

For CPM, costs range based on your location and category. A quick look online shows that most users are seeing costs that range upwards of $500 per thousand. Compare these costs to other platforms when you plan where to advertise.

Effectiveness & Value of Yelp Ads

Like Angie’s List, Yelp’s reviews tend to be the most important part of your business – more so than any exposure from the ads. While placement on your competitor’s pages and in search results can help, it’s largely dependent on having reviews first. Any user looking at your profile on Yelp will be doing so to find out the quality of your services.

If you have a healthy volume of positive reviews, you may find some value in Yelp ads. Just remember that any platform should return more in revenue than it costs. Track your budget closely and compare it to what you might pay on other platforms.

Types of Digital Advertising Ads

When advertising through Google or other platforms, you have the choice between a few categories of ads. Each function differently, which offers you different approaches to reach your ideal customer.


Ask anyone to think of a digital ad, and they’ll probably imagine a display ad – even if they don’t realize it. Display ads are everything from those banner ads at the top of your favorite website, to the interstitial ads you see in the middle of online articles.

The best display ads are created to be eye-catching and straight to the point. Their goal is to make you notice them, digest the information and ideally click through.

An Example of Display Advertising

Once you know what a display ad is, you’ll recognize them everywhere. Here’s an example of two display ads showing on the Car and Driver website for various auto manufacturers.

Two display ads on the Car and Driver website

These two display ads show off two of the many formats that you may find them. In almost every case, websites are designed to fit display ads into their design; this means they can be long, tall and everywhere in between.

Value of Display Ads

These types of ads are all about their visuals. This makes them effective for branding for drawing quick attention to your message. As you can see in the example above, their visuals present a clear contrast to the web page’s clean white design. By standing out, they easily draw attention from readers and instantly promote offers.

Not only are display ads great for catching eyes, they’re also incredible for sending traffic right to your site. Unlike traditional ads that require calling or traveling to a store, display ads link directly to any site you want. This means you don’t just build awareness for your event, offer or brand – you also get them to your landing page or home page, where you can guide them to learn more about what you offer.


It’s no secret that mobile phones are everywhere. Nearly 80 percent of Americans own a smartphone.6 As more and more people buy smartphones and shop on mobile, your advertising needs to adjust to display where it will be seen most.

Unique types of mobile ads include click-to-call ads and push notifications. The primary benefit is convenience; potential customers can call you instantly without having to lookup or even dial your number.

Examples of Mobile Ads

Mobile ads are like display ads. However, they’re often more contrasting and straight forward due to the lower resolution and size of mobile screens.

Screenshot of a mobile ad for Zoeller on

This advertisement on Contractor Magazine’s website shows some of the difficulties of mobile advertising – limited screen space means it’s necessary to present simple and concise messages.

The Value of Mobile Ads

The potential to connect with your audience on mobile is great. When you craft messages that are low-pressure and informative, the results are often positive.

Another essential value of mobile ads is the frequency that you can reach your audience. While many tech-savvy individuals will use their laptop every day, they often access their mobile phones multiple times per hour. That frequency can help you imprint your brand, so they remember you when they need a remodel, house painting or other contracted service.


Mobile isn’t the only other major change in digital advertising. When modern businesses want to make strong connections to people, they use video.

While they can be more difficult to produce, video advertisements have exceptional performance. Unlike display ads or mobile ads, video can be interesting and captivating. You don’t have to stick to just the facts – you can tell a short story or include emotion to help hold the attention of your audience.

Examples of Video Ads

If there was one place you think of when you think video, it’s probably YouTube. With millions of hours of video uploaded daily, there’s plenty to see. Before you get to watch your video, however, you’ve probably had to wait through one of these pre-roll ads:

Pre-roll ad for Liberty Mutual.

In this example, Liberty Mutual is targeting those looking at new vehicles with insurance ads. It’s a great example of targeting relevant audiences with your ads.

One thing to note is how they make use of space in the video to focus on key concepts in text. Many users, especially on social media, view ads and videos without sound. The more you can show on screen, the more likely you are to keep their attention and stay in their memory.

Value of Video Ads

All of the modern data behind videos shows them to be incredibly effective marketing tools. Everything from five-second videos to ads up to two minutes have shown higher conversion and retention rates. Take a look at some of these stats:

  • Landing pages with videos can convert 80 percent more users7
  • Average visitors spend nearly twice the time on a website when it features a video7
  • Blogs that feature videos can generate up to three times as many links7

And these are just the measurable results. Videos let you get creative with how you present your company. Images and text aren’t as effective at building a relationship with your customers as video. It helps you establish the voice of your brand and connect with leads quickly.

How to Get Started

Choose the platform that best fits your company. If you can produce quality videos, YouTube might be the perfect place for you. If not, AdWords or other search engine platforms let you write simple advertisements without the need for video or image editing.

Here are the places you need to go to sign up to get started:

Google AdWords

Bing Ads

Yahoo Gemini

Facebook Advertising

Yelp Advertising

YouTube Advertising

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There are a lot of options for digital  advertising  and the best way to get started is to pick one and use it thoroughly. You won’t likely nail it on the first try. Every campaign you create or ad you run will be a learning experience that makes your next one better.

Thinking About Digital Advertising?

If you’re considering an advertising campaign online, put some thought into who will manage your campaign.

You may be interested is this article about AdWords campaign management:who manages your digital advertising adwords campaign

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