Types of Online Ads: What You Need to Know

In today’s digital world, online ads are a necessity for growing businesses. They can help you drive traffic to your WordPress.com site, increase brand awareness, grow your customer base, and more.

To help you get started, here is a breakdown of the different types of online ads and a few useful tips.

Choosing the right online ads

There are a few different types of ads, and each will help you accomplish a different goal.

1. Search ads

Also called text ads, or pay-per-click ads, search ads appear on search engine results pages, usually before or alongside organic results, when a user enters a related search query. You can purchase these ads through search engine ad networks, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

You might choose this ad type if you’re hoping to grow traffic and capture your audience’s attention when they’re already searching for something you offer.

2. Display ads

Sometimes referred to as “banner ads,” this visual type of ad can include static images or rich media, such as video or audio. These ads often appear on other websites’ pages in pre-defined ad-placement spaces. Like search ads, you can build and deploy display ads through search engines’ ad networks.

You might choose this ad type if your goal is brand awareness, or if you’re hoping to re-target people who have already engaged with your brand in the past.

3. Social media ads

Most social media sites have their own ad networks where you can build and launch display ad campaigns targeting the sites’ users. These ads usually appear within or alongside users’ social feeds.

Given social media platforms capture nearly one-third of the time people aged 16 to 64 spend online, according to data from GlobalWebIndex, these ads can help you grow your audience quickly.

You may select this ad type if your audience spends a significant amount of time on a specific social media platform. For example, a home decor brand may enjoy great success by launching an ad campaign on Pinterest.

4. Native ads

A native ad mimics the look and function of the media where it appears — for example, an Instagram ad that looks like a regular post and appears between posts from people you follow, or a sponsored article on an online publication. Social media ads are often native ads, and they can be identified from organic posts by the title “sponsored” or “ad.”

You may choose to run native ads if you’re hoping to establish brand awareness and grow a larger audience within a specific niche.

To increase engagement, brands often leverage multiple different types of ads.

Getting started with online advertising

If you’ve never built and launched an online ad campaign before, here are a few things you’ll need to do to get started.

1. Identify your goals

Start by determining what you want to accomplish. For example, do you want to make more people aware of your brand and build your audience, re-engage previous site visitors, grow traffic, or highlight a specific product or service? It may sound simple, but it’s incredibly important.

2. Define your audience

Who do you want to reach? Be as specific as possible using demographics and interests. It helps make your ads more personalized and relevant to your audience.

3. Choose a platform

Once you’ve decided what you want to accomplish and who you want to target, it’s time to decide which platform(s) you want to use to build and launch your ad campaigns.

4. Set your budget

How much do you want to spend? It’s best to start small and grow your budget as you optimize your ads and improve your return on ad spend.

5. Prepare your creative

Finally, it’s time to begin writing ad copy and/or designing your ad media to the platform’s specifications.

Delivering digital ads for the first time can feel a little overwhelming, but don’t worry. By understanding the different types of online ads and taking the right steps, you can begin launching campaigns and achieving your goals.


Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is an old school, gumshoe journalist trapped in a modern content marketer's body. She specializes in writing for the marketing, technology and healthcare industries, and loves helping bloggers and small business owners grow their presence online. Carrie resides in the "Silicon Hills" of Austin, TX with her husband and two adorable cats.

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