Everything You Need to Know About Online Ads

Today, businesses need online advertising to thrive, regardless of their industry. Online ads will help you connect with audiences, gain their trust, and win their business.

You might be new to online advertising. As a result, you may be uncertain about which to use.

In this guide to online advertising, we’ll review everything you need to know. You’ll learn about each type of ad and how ads can help your business. So, let’s get into it.

What Are Online Ads?

Simply put, online ads are digital advertisements that appear on the internet. People might see these ads on the web pages they browse. Ads could also appear on social media platforms, video streaming services, and more.

With so many people online, you must use online ads to reach them. Although TV, print, and other ad formats remain relevant, online ads supplement these. You can even connect your campaigns across channels.

Web advertising will help you reach audiences of all types and boost your brand’s visibility. The key is using the best ads for your business and appearing on the right platforms.

What Metrics Actually Matter? 

There are several metrics to consider if you’re interested in online advertising.

The first metrics to think about apply to the cost of online ads. Depending on the platform and payment model, you’ll pay based on:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC) — With this model, advertisers pay for every click that their ad gets.
  • Cost-per-thousand/mille (CPM) — Advertisers pay a specific rate per thousand impressions. We’ll go deeper into impressions and how they work.
  • Cost-per-action (CPA) — Advertisers pay whenever ads lead to a specific action. For instance, you may pay per product order.

Besides these, there are other metrics that will help you measure the success of your ads, and they may include:

  • Impressions — These count the number of times an ad appears in front of viewers. Remember that an impression doesn’t guarantee the person saw the ad. This metric helps measure the performance of brand awareness campaigns.
  • Clicks — A click occurs when someone actually sees and clicks through an ad. A high number of clicks is a sign of an effective ad.
  • Average click-through rate (CTR) — This metric measures the percentage of ad views leading to clicks. This metric further helps measure ad effectiveness.
  • Conversion rate — It’s not enough for ads to get clicks. You also want those viewers to convert into leads and customers. A high conversion rate shows that your marketing efforts are working.
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS) — This measures the revenue that every ad dollar returns. If you have a high ROAS, your ads are profitable.

Where Are Online Ads Most Used?

Advertisers have plenty of options to choose from regarding ad platforms. However, if you want to ensure people see you, some platforms are better than others.

The most popular ad platform today is Google. Using this platform, you’ll be able to gain visibility with search and display ads. Google ads appear just about everywhere online.

Apart from Google, you can also use social media to connect with audiences. The most popular social media platforms for ads include Facebook and Instagram. Both channels display the bulk of social media ads.

Of course, there are many other channels to use for ads. However, it’s best to show up where your audiences spend most of their time.

Who Uses Online Ads?

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or the type of business you run—you can benefit from web advertising.

B2C and B2B companies across all verticals have a use for ads. These could include display ads on social media and text ads in search engines. They may include video ads that play on streaming services like YouTube.

If you have an audience you want to reach, online ads are the way to do so.

Businesses can turn to ad agencies if they don’t have the resources to build and launch ad campaigns. An online ad agency will help identify the best platforms and get you found on them.

Why Should Your Business Use Online Ads?

Offline ads are still relevant and can attract business. Everything from TV and magazines to newspapers and billboards is still effective. Despite this, online advertising is increasingly crucial for businesses of all types.

The fact is that many people still use search engines to research companies. Many companies also use ads across all industries. So, if you want to stand out, you need effective online ads.

Online advertising can reach people who wouldn’t otherwise find you. Web advertising can boost staying power even if they’re already aware of you from offline ads. People will be more likely to remember your brand with exposure both on and offline.

Many ads are also cost-effective and won’t exceed your advertising budget. Advertisers often see high ROI with online ad campaigns.

All these benefits make online ads vital. Whether on your own or going through an online ad agency, you’ll succeed with the right strategy.

The Different Types of Online Ads

There’s no shortage of online ad platforms out there. You’ll find the right platform based on where your audience is. Here we’ll review some of the most popular platforms and ad formats.

Paid Ads

Search engines allow for different types of paid ads. Two of the most popular platforms for these ads include Google Search and Bing.

Google Search

Google has two ad networks: the Search Network and the Display Network. Google Search ads are text ads that show up in search results. They often look like organic search results that appear at the top of the page.

Google has the widest reach of any search engine, which is why you should use it in most cases. It’s also often cost-effective, with the average cost per click being $2 to $4.

One main issue with Google might involve competition. As the most popular platform, it will take some effort and a good budget to show up. Precise targeting can help with this, though.

A well-targeted campaign with Google Search can help you get the most from online ads.


Bing is another popular search engine you can use for ads. Although Bing is less popular than Google, it’s still useful. Also, it continues to grow. Today, the platform sees 5.4 million monthly searches.

It’s also popular with users who don’t use Google. Many of Bing’s users are older and at a higher income level. This makes Bing a great channel to use with Google.

You can also save money with Bing. The average CPC on this platform is only $1.54.

One issue you might experience with Bing has to do with traffic. The quality of traffic is lower than Google. This means you might wind up spending more to convert users.

Display Ads

Paid search ads are great for reaching audiences, but display ads can go even further. The following are some of the different display ads you can use:

Google Display

The Google Display Network allows you to publish display ads. These are visual ads that include an image and text. Ads on this network can appear on millions of websites and applications. Additionally, because Google owns YouTube and Gmail, Google ads also appear on these platforms.

Display ads are also often cheaper than Search Network ads. The average CPC on the Display Network is around $1 or less. However, this lower cost could be due to the one downside of display ads. Unlike search ads that blend with content and don’t look as obvious, display ads have a lower CTR. As a result, people often ignore these ads, which is why you need to optimize them.


One benefit of display ads is the ability to retarget audiences. Once a person visits your website, a display ad campaign can follow users across the web. Ads will appear to keep these users aware of your brand. Over time, these ads could get people to return to your site.


Mobile display ads offer another way to reach audiences. With millions of mobile users out there, you need mobile ads.

Mobile display ads could appear on mobile websites. They may also appear to users through certain apps. This will put you in front of people who might not see you through desktop ads.


Many email platforms push ads of all types. Users might see display ads at the top of their inbox or on either side. Ads may also appear in emails themselves if you pay for ad space within emails.

Email display ads can further increase brand awareness and recognition. This is why you should use them with other types of email marketing efforts.


Video remains one of the best channels to use for ads. People engage more with video than other media. Videos are more likely to resonate and build an emotional connection. They’re also effective marketing tools—92% of marketers using video consider it important.

Many over-the-top (OTT) platforms use video ads. Apart from YouTube, you can place ads on Hulu, Peacock, and other channels.

Although people can pay more to avoid ads, millions of users opt for cheaper versions allowing ads.

Video ads can also appear on mobile apps, news websites, and other channels.

Paid Social Ads

Many social media platforms allow for a range of ads. Here are some of the most popular platforms to target:


If you want to benefit from social media ads, Facebook is often the best to target. This is because Facebook has the widest audience of all platforms, with almost three billion users.

You can launch different ads on Facebook, including photo, video, story, and lead ads. Photo ads allow you to include images in ads, while video ads help you connect with compelling videos. Story ads combine video and photo, and lead ads can include a lead gen form.

Facebook ads cost an average of $1.72 per click. Luckily, the cost is very flexible depending on what you want to achieve.

The biggest downside of Facebook has to do with its size. It has a massive audience and many advertisers. This means you’ll need to pay more if you want to boost visibility.


Another popular platform to use is Twitter. Today, there are around 237.8 million daily active users on the platform.

The type of ad you use on Twitter depends on your goal. For instance, you can increase awareness, tweet engagement, clicks, follows, and downloads. You would then promote tweets, websites, or apps.

One notable thing about this platform is its audience consists of a lot of shoppers. Twitter users will spend more, which is why it’s popular for e-commerce ads.

Keep in mind that ads don’t do as well as organic tweets. Twitter favors tweets over ads, so make sure you combine the two. Promoting tweets you’ve made can help balance campaigns.

The average cost of Twitter ads is around $0.50 to $3.00 per action.


To connect with professionals and business owners, turn to LinkedIn. This platform is popular for B2B companies and offers hyper-targeting capabilities.

When building ad campaigns, you can target many audiences. Target based on job titles, job roles, industries, and demographics. The platform also allows you to create direct Message Ads with a call to action. Ads may also include lead gen forms.

The lowest daily budget you can pay to start using LinkedIn is $10 for any ad. You can also set a minimum lifetime budget of $100.


For a more visual platform, consider Instagram ads. This platform is easier than ever to use if you’re already using Facebook. Using Facebook, you can create Instagram ads while managing Facebook campaigns.

The current audience for Instagram is around two billion users. This makes it up there with Facebook. It also shares ad types with Facebook. For example, you can create photo, video, and story ads. One unique ad type is a Shopping Post ad. This type of ad enables you to promote products with a price displayed.

The average cost of Instagram ads is about $0.40 to $0.70.


YouTube acts as the video version of Google. It has an audience of nearly a billion active users. Many videos also appear in Google search results.

If you want to run video ads, YouTube is the place to do it. YouTube makes it easy to target ads based on viewers’ interests. You can push ads on videos or channels with a similar topic. You can also launch image ads that appear on YouTube pages.

YouTube ads cost anywhere from $0.03 to $0.30 per view, depending on certain factors. These factors include ad formats, targeting, quality score, and bidding.

Like other video ads, you may struggle with YouTube ads. Users tend to be quick to skip video ads. To prevent this, ensure your ads appeal to viewers’ interests. Make them compelling and grab people’s attention early in the ad.


TikTok is a somewhat recent addition to social media. Like Instagram, it’s highly visual. It’s become very popular, with most of its user base in the younger generations. Insider Intelligence predicted the platform would have 750 million monthly users in 2022.

If you want to target younger audiences, TikTok is ideal. Bear in mind that it’s still new. Because of this, you have limited ad options. Ads on TikTok are all about building brand awareness and gaining exposure.

The cost of TikTok ads begins at $10 per CPM, with a $500 campaign minimum.


Pinterest is another visual-focused platform like Instagram and TikTok. Image ads will do well here with good targeting. The site has over 300 million users, most of whom are women.

Ads that appeal to Pinterest audiences often include product photos. If you have great-looking product images, turn them into Pinterest Pins.

While most of Pinterest’s user base is women, men are using the platform more often. This means you can target both audiences in many cases.

The average cost of Pinterest ads falls around $1.50 per click.

Other Online Ads

You can use several other ads in addition to the paid and social ads discussed. These could include:

Banner Ads

Banner ads appear on web pages, often at the top or bottom of each page. You’ll see them on many types of websites.

Reddit Ads

Reddit ads work like other types of paid ads, but they include different elements. You can add headlines, URLs, ad images to each ad. They’re also pretty cheap to bid on and come with lower CPMs.

In-Game Ads

Companies also often invest in ads that appear in videos or computer games. For example, ads could appear as in-game posters or billboards. They may also take the form of in-game items, including props or tools that players use.

In-App Ads

Mobile apps of all types use in-app ads. They often help keep apps free as users view them before performing certain actions. Many of these apps are games. Before moving on to a new level or accessing part of the app, an ad may play or appear.

In-app ads could include video ads, image ads, interactive ads, and others.

Google Discovery

Google Discovery ads are unique to Google users. Google will push personalized ads based on user’s interests. The ads will then appear in Google, YouTube, and Gmail apps. The user sees these ads in their feeds.

Google Shopping

These ads promote specific products in Google’s “Shopping” tab. This makes it easy for potential customers to find you and buy your products immediately. These ads are also very easy to set up. All you need to do is upload your product data to the Google Merchant Center. You then create your ad campaign and set your budget.


Connected TV (CTV) ads appear in streaming content. You can use these ads to reach audiences through OTT devices and smart TVs. Some examples of OTT devices include Apple TV, Roku, and gaming consoles.

Build Winning Campaign With the Right Online Ads

With all the different platforms and ad types in mind, you’ll get a better idea of how to run ads online. If you’re not sure how to approach web advertising, an online ad agency may be able to help.

Using online ads along with offline advertising will ensure people find you. You’ll also gain the recognition and trust of your audiences with a solid campaign.

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