There’s no doubt that digital advertising is a huge part of today’s marketing landscape. But what, exactly, is it? And more importantly, how can you use it to reach your target audience and achieve your business goals?
This article will discuss the basics of digital advertising – what it is, why you should use it, and how to get started. Plus, we’ll give you some examples of digital ads so you can see how they work in practice.
What is Digital Advertising?
Digital advertising is the use of digital technologies to deliver marketing messages. It is a marketing activity focused on creating awareness for a business’s product or service and attracting more traffic. In addition, digital advertising is a form of marketing that can’t be considered a part of traditional marketing.
In layman’s terms, digital advertising is advertising in the digital space or online. So for us to better separate digital advertising from traditional marketing, it also helps to remember how digital advertising differs from traditional advertising.
Digital advertising is different from traditional advertising in a number of ways. For one, digital advertising is more targeted and measurable than traditional advertising. Additionally, digital media can be interactive, allowing users to engage with ads in ways that traditional media cannot.
Finally, digital media is constantly evolving and changing, making it a more dynamic and versatile form of advertising than traditional media.
Digital Advertising vs. Digital Marketing
Digital advertising and digital marketing are two different concepts. The former is the process of using digital channels in a digital advertising strategy to promote or market a product or service.
Digital marketing, on the other hand, is a broader term. It is the understanding of the online market/target audience and the promotion of brands, products, and services using online channels to build brand awareness.
Aside from advertising, this includes search engine optimization, email marketing, market research, and data processing—through manual analysis or with the help of AI—among others.
Simply put, digital advertising is an activity that belongs under the umbrella of digital marketing. It’s one part of many digital marketing strategies that fall under digital marketing.
The Benefits of Digital Advertising for your Business
According to a recent study by eMarketer, Digital advertising spending is expected to grow 13.6% this year to $239 billion. This data only shows us the viability of investing in digital ads for businesses.
Digital advertising has several benefits for businesses. First, digital advertising is an effective way for your business or brand to reach a large number of people. Second, digital advertising allows your business to target specific audiences.
Third, it is a surprisingly affordable form of advertising. Fourth, digital advertising can provide your business with measurable results that you can track to monitor your campaigns’ effectiveness.
And lastly, digital advertising is versatile and can be used to promote a variety of products and services and is not limited to any specific market.
- able to reach a large number of people
- can target specific audiences
- an affordable form of advertising
- can give measurable results
- is versatile
The 6 Common Examples of Digital Advertising
Digital advertising comes in many different shapes and sizes. But there are a few common types: social media, paid search, native, display, audio advertising, and retargeting. In some brands, a digital ad campaign can employ multiple types of digital ads for one product or service.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising or SMA is the most popular form of digital advertising or online advertising. It refers to the use of social channels in a digital advertising strategy to deliver advertising messages to users through social media ads.
SMA can take many different forms, including sponsored posts, promoted tweets or hashtags, and ads that appear on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest. These kinds of digital ads can be also referred to as ‘paid ads.’
When you look at the image below, you’re probably reminded of the many similar instances in which you’ve encountered social media ads while using your favorite social channel.
When you scroll down your timeline—be that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or others—and you run across a post from a business account or a public figure account that you don’t follow, that right there is an example of a social media ad.
The main advantage of SMA is that it allows businesses to target their audience very specifically. Which in turn results in a very profitable ad campaign. Advertisers can target users based on their interests, demographics, and even their online behavior.
This makes social media advertising an extremely effective way to reach potential customers without investing significantly in ad spend.
Paid Search Advertising
Paid search advertising is a form of search engine marketing that uses paid search engine results to promote a business. Paid search ads are among the common types of digital ads that many marketers prioritize in a digital advertising campaign focused on search engines.
For example, when someone searches on search engines like Google or Bing, they will see a list of results ranked in order of relevance.
When search engines display the search results, at the top are the paid search results, which are paid for by advertisers and promoted through a variety of methods, including keyword bidding and enhanced listings.
Have you tried searching for something on Google before and after it displays the SERP, you see a lineup of search results with the small ‘Ad’ icon right beside the site’s link? Usually, these types of results range from two to four in number. These kinds of search results are an example of paid search advertising.
This method of search engine marketing is a very effective way to reach potential customers who are already interested in what you have to offer. In addition, advertisers can target their ads to users based on their location, age, gender, and interests.
Native advertising is an advertisement that looks like an editorial or an article. Native ads are designed to match the look and feel of the website or app they appear on. This makes them less intrusive and more likely to be clicked on by users.
You can consider native ads as sneaky and smart, because they blend in really well with how the site presents its different content on the website. Ads like these are seen heavily on blogs and news sites because such sites are typically heavy with site traffic.
When you browse through the different articles on a blog site, the chances of running across a native ad are high.
Native advertising has become increasingly popular in recent years because it’s a very effective way to promote a brand or product. Native ads generate higher click-through rates than traditional display ads, and they’re also more likely to be shared on social media.
This makes native advertising a great way to reach potential customers who may not have been exposed to your brand before.
Display or online graphic advertising is another common form of digital advertising used in popular digital marketing channels. With this, digital marketers use digital banners and other graphical elements to promote a business or product.
Display ads are typically placed on websites where there is high traffic volume, such as news websites and popular blogs. They can also be placed on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
When most people think of online advertising, this form typically springs to mind. Examples of these are websites and applications across the web that feature banner ads, pop-ups, and promotional image tiles.
Try visiting Photopea’s website. You’ll easily spot how display ads are used by looking at the online ads located at the sides of the page.
The main advantage of this is its ability to reach a large audience quickly and easily. Display ads also allow businesses to target their audience based on demographic information like age, gender, and interests.
However, this form of digital ads can be expensive and is not always expected to effectively generate sales.
Audio advertising is a form of digital advertising that uses digital audio files to promote a business or product. Audio ads can be played on websites, in apps, and on social media channels. They can be as short as 10 seconds or as long as 30 minutes.
For non-premium users of music streaming platforms like Spotify, and alike, it’s very common to experience interruptions in-between listening to favorite albums and playlists just for an ad to play.
Sometimes, these audio digital ads come from the streaming platform itself. Other times, the hosts of your favorite podcasts are the ones narrating the ad.
Audio ads are a great way to reach potential customers who may not be exposed to your brand or product through other forms of advertising. They’re also a great way to build brand awareness and create a connection with potential customers.
Audio ads can be used to promote a variety of products and services, including digital products, physical products, and services.
If your brand runs its own online show or podcast, including audio advertising in your ad campaign is a must. It’s zero ad spend and is as easy as pie to implement.
By the definition of it, it’s pretty safe to say that we all have experienced or witnessed this form of ad more than once before. These are the types of digital ads that are responsible for millions of people having the hunch that they’re being watched by their computers.
As funny and strange as it may sound, it is a simple demonstration of how effective retargeting can be.
Have you experienced going on Facebook and seeing a digital ad that’s exactly about the same thing that you just searched on Google a couple of moments prior? That right there is an example of how retargeting works.
When a visitor leaves the site, the cookie is used to target them with digital ads on other websites. This is done by matching the cookies of other websites to the one that was dropped on the visitor’s computer.
Retargeting is a very effective way to reach potential customers who may have been exposed to your brand or product before but didn’t take the time to actually buy anything.
- Social Media Advertising
- Paid Search Advertising
- Native Advertising
- Display Advertising
- Audio Advertising
The 3 Fundamental Pillars of Digital Advertising
To have a successful digital advertising campaign, any ad manager must know how to identify the three pillars of paid ads in light of what he/she wants to sell to customers. The three pillars of paid ads are the offer, the audience, and the creative.
To lay down more clearly how paid ads can be used in your business, we’re going to simplify the three pillars in a sample scenario. Let’s say, in this scenario, you’re starting a meal planning business.
This is how you use paid ads in a meal planning business.
Before you create a paid ad for your meal planning business, first, ask these questions:
- what is the core offer of my meal planning business?
- what will be my entry point offer?
- how will I upsell from the entry point offer to the core offer?
By asking these basic questions, you can form a concrete picture of what it is that you want to sell to your customers and at the same time what it is that you want to highlight in your ad.
After you identify your meal planning business’s entry point offers and core offer, next, determine who really is your audience. To help with that, work around the following questions:
- what does my ideal customer look like? (age, job, salary, location)
- what are my customers interested in? (favorite food, reality shows, brands)
- what pain points will my offer solve for them?
- what does my customer want to achieve with my type of business?
Using a customer avatar is an organized way of answering all of these questions. A customer avatar can help you detail the type of customer that your offer is targeting.
With a customer avatar, you know who you’re selling to and not selling to.
When you’ve already identified your offer and your audience, it is now time to design your creative. The term ‘creative’ refers to the images, visuals, and messaging of the ad that you’ll make for your meal planning business.
The creative is the ad itself.
Before you design your creative, ponder on these:
- how can my ad evoke a reaction or connection with my customer?
- how can I present my product/service in a captivating manner?
- what critical information should I include in the ad to create a solid first impression?
- how can my audience create a meaningful connection with my brand?
Like the name, you have to get creative in this stage. You have to think outside of the box about how you can capture the interests of those who stumble upon your ad.
It’s important to remember that people don’t spend hours looking at an ad. This is why it’s important for your ad to, at the very least, be able to answer the questions above.
The fourth and final step is to measure your results. How many people saw your ad? How many people clicked on your ad? How many people bought your product or service? These are all important metrics to track when measuring your online advertising performance.
Now that you know the basics of digital advertising, it’s time to put it into action in your business!
Digital advertising is a vast and ever-changing industry. However, there are some fundamentals that remain the same. In this article, we’ve outlined the what, why, and how of digital advertising in a way that’s easy to understand for beginners.
We answered the questions: What are some examples of digital advertising? What are the four types of digital advertising? What is the purpose of digital advertising? And what are the main advertising mediums?
Finally, we discussed the three pillars of paid advertising that help establish a digital advertising strategy that can compete.
If you’re looking to get started in digital marketing or want to learn more about digital advertising, this article is a great place to start.
Brian Shelton is an entrepreneur, marketer, and life-long learner committed to helping businesses achieve impactful results. He founded Grow Predictably to provide tailored marketing strategies to generate predictable, profitable growth. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Brian has helped businesses, large and small. reach their goals and drive positive change in the world.