What Type of Online Advertising Is Right for You?

Online advertising comes in two main packages, search and display, and each of these accomplishes something different. Some companies require both, some need only one or the other, and a very few companies honestly wouldn’t benefit much from either. What many companies have in common is that they have no idea how to determine which ad type or combination they need. Choosing the most effective digital ads requires a clear set of goals and a good understanding of your audience.

Types of Online Advertising

For the uninformed, digital ads come in two major categories: search advertisements and display advertisements. Any internet user sees both types on a daily basis.

Search ads appear on a search engine results pages and look something like this ad for Swedish Physical Therapy:

Google Search Ad Example

Search ads are less about brand awareness and more about getting an immediate response. So if you’re doing searches for physical therapy in Seattle, advertisers can reasonably assume you need those services soon, and will put up search ads to appear alongside your search engine results. The hope is that you will click their ad and choose their clinic, rather than clicking on a competitor’s listing in the search results.

Display advertisements appear on individual websites, including news sites, shopping sites and social media. You might know them better as banner ads. Here’s one that appeared on Facebook next to the news feed:

Social Media Display Ad Example

Most display ads are directed at users who have already expressed interest in a company, a concept, a product or a service. If you spent a long time looking at a red cashmere sweater on Macy’s website, you’re going to suddenly start seeing display ads for that exact product. Display ads serve two main purposes: general brand awareness and to nudge users to buy a product they already expressed interest in.

Search Advertising vs. Display Advertising: How to Choose

Contrary to what some marketing firms would have you believe, neither search nor display advertising is right for everyone.

Say your company manufactures oil separator cartridges. Your first reaction might be that because this is such a niche area, search advertising is not a good use of your money. But wait! Search would actually be a great place to use ads because they would be directed solely to users searching for separator cartridges and related terms. The average consumer never has to see your cartridge ad, but your prospective O&G clients will. In fact, niche ads like this actually cost less than ads directed at broader audiences.

Now let’s say you own a yoga studio and are trying to attract more new members. You’re probably already doing search ads to reach people who are researching yoga studios in your area. The weakness of search ads is that they limit your ads to only those people who are actively looking for a new yoga studio – not the people who are already using your competitor or the candidates who haven’t quite made the decision to seek out yoga classes. By using display ads, you could target people in your area who regularly read Yoga Journal, for example.

Tomorrow, we'll go more in-depth on how to appropriately target the audiences you want to advertise to.

Search Advertising Is NOT All About Google

Many people (including marketers!) think advertising on Google is the only way to go when it comes to search. Google’s AdWords platform is a valuable advertising tool that allows a lot of control over the audiences that see your ads, but there’s more to search advertising than Google.

Sometimes, a search ad that flunks in Google can be lucrative on Bing or Yahoo. Certain groups, like older folks, are more likely to use a not-Google search engine. And some people use Bing or Yahoo exclusively – which means these search engines hold an untapped audience if you’re just making the switch from Google. It just depends on your target audience.

Help with Online Advertising

If you want to find out more about what type of digital advertising is right for your business, we would be happy to walk you through it (no charge!). Or, find out more about what we can do over on our case studies page.

Next on this subject: Hyper Targeting Your Audience with Online Advertising >>

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