The Ultimate Guide to Digital Advertising

You may have already heard about the ever-evolving world of digital advertising, and the benefits brands are seeing by utilizing this advertising medium.

In order for digital advertising to be effective, you need to:

  • Have a clear objective
  • Create meaningful, high quality advertising content that will capture your target audience
  • Select the appropriate advertising methods

Then you must still implement the strategy effectively. How can you easily and affordably get people’s attention, push them to your website, and convert them to subscribers and customers?

In this ultimate guide to digital advertising, we will answer all these questions and cover everything you need to know about paid digital advertising.


What is Digital Advertising?

Digital advertising is the exercise of delivering advertising content to internet users through various online and digital channels. Effective digital advertising uses online channels such as social media, search engines, mobile apps and websites to show promotional messages to highly targeted audiences.


Types of Digital Advertising

There are various types of digital advertising mediums. It is important to understand them and make sure you’re spending money on the avenues best suited for your business, which an expert partner can help you with. In this chapter, we will be looking at some of the more common types of digital advertising that are available to businesses today.

1. Pay Per Click Advertising

Paid search advertising, also known as pay per-click (PPC) advertising can be a very powerful tool for your business advertising objectives, and when used correctly with a strong strategy accompanying it, the possibilities for results are almost guaranteed. In order to fully understand paid search, we need to understand some terms associated with it; let’s have a look below:


Some terminology to keep in mind when it comes to PPC advertising:

  • Click
    When a user clicks on one of your ads
  • Impressions
    When your ads are shown, this doesn’t mean that users have seen your ad
  • Click- through- rate
    The percentage of impressions of your ads that result in clicks, the higher the better
  • Average cost per click (CPC)
    How much, on average, a click has costed
  • Average position
    Where on the results page your ads have shown, you aim to be seen on position one
  • Conversion
    A user completing a very specific goal such as making an online purchase or filling in a contact form
  • Cost/Conversion
    The amount you have spent on a paid search divided by the number of conversions generated, the lower the better
  • Conversion rate
    The % of users who completed a conversion after clicking on your ad, the higher the better.

When you search for something on Google, you are given a page of results. This results page is called SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This page shows both organic and paid results from the keywords you entered. Paid results are the ads that advertisers spend money on. All paid results have the word “Ad” before the listing.

Paid search works on a pay-per-click model, so you only pay once someone clicks. This makes it a measurable and controllable marketing channel compared with more traditional forms of advertising, and also means that an advertiser does not pay for wasted impressions if the viewer is not interested and does not click on the ad. Paid search ads are effective because we know that just by typing something in the search bar, the user has the intention to buy or find out more information about what they are looking for. Google Ads is all about making sure you are advertising to the right people at the right time. You want to be in the top three results, in order to ensure your ad has the best chance of being clicked on.

At first glance, setting up a PPC campaign appears easy to do. But doing so effectively in a way that delivers results and optimises your budget requires strategy, experience and an understanding of the many nuances of the ad words platform.

2. Paid Social Media Advertising

The average person spends 144 minutes on social media per day. Social media is a proven and highly targeted digital advertising channel. Let’s explore.

Social media advertising is digital advertising that focuses on social networking sites. Advertisements are distributed to users based on information gathered from target group profiles. Let’s have a look at the different types of social media advertising:

Types of social media advertising

There are many different social media platforms available today, all of which have different types of audiences, and a varying number of users differ from platform to platform. Let’s get into an overview of each platform, the number of users it has, and what or how its users make use of the platform and how advertising fits into each..

Facebook Advertising
Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world. It is important to know the different types of advertising options within the platform in order to make financially sound advertising decisions. We will be looking into these shortly. The organic reach of content (unpaid for reach) has dropped dramatically over the last few years and as a result it is important to supplement your social media strategy with paid advertising to ensure you reach your target market. Let’s take a look at the various advertising formats Facebook offers.


Types of Facebook Ads:
Once you have identified your target audience, you need to create an ad with content that they will want to engage with, and this requires the right type of Facebook ad. Let’s have a look at some of the ad options available on Facebook.

  • Image ads
    A single image ad, with a headline, description and call to action.
  • Carousel ads
    This type of format allows you to use up to 10 images or videos to promote your product or service. This format allows you to say something specific about each image or video, each with their own unique link.
  • Video ads
    A video ad doesn’t have to be an actual video footage, it can also be a gif. These can appear on the newsfeed, Facebook’s stories or in-stream ads within other longer videos on Facebook.
  • Collection ads
    Collection ads make it easier for the user to browse and purchase an array of your products in a fast loading experience without leaving the Facebook app.
  • Dynamic ads
    Allow you to show a single or multi-product ad to potential customers who have visited your website.
  • Messenger ads
    Allow users to see your ads and initiate a text conversation with your business with the click of a button.
  • Lead form ads/Conversion
    Facebook lead ads can be used to collect sign-ups from newsletters, price estimates and business info, which makes it great for identifying your potential customer and sharing relevant info with them about your product or service in future.

LinkedIn Advertising

Linkedin is a social media platform that focuses on professional networking and career development. It’s a very impactful platform to advertise on as it has the world’s largest audience of active, influential professionals. Its network includes CEOs and top managers in small, medium and large businesses. The Linkedin platform allows advertisers to run campaigns around clearly defined objectives such as lead generation, brand awareness or engagement. Ideally, you’d advertise on LinkedIn if your offering is more B2B focused. Again, the choice of ad format you select depends greatly on your business, objectives and industry. Here are their ad formats currently available:


Types of LinkedIn ads:

  • Sponsored ads
    Look and feel native to the platform and appear to be “boosted” posts from the company’s own feed.
  • Text ads
    Text ads operate on a familiar pay-per-click or impressions basis, and they’re featured in the sidebar of the platform, similar to how Google search ads would appear.
  • Dynamic ads
    This ad type has a set template and auto translation options to make personalisation of the creative easy for the advertisers. You can choose to promote job posts, content downloads or drive traffic to a website via spotlight ads which also appear on the newsfeed.

Instagram Advertising

Instagram has over 500 million active users monthly, which makes it a great tool to reach your target audience through ad campaigns. Instagram ads are posts or stories that an advertiser pays to promote to users’ Instagram accounts. The ads can look like Instagram posts, but are always recognized by a “Sponsored” label. They can also include a call-to-action button to drive traffic or conversions. As Instagram is powered by Facebook, you can choose to run the campaign on both platforms simultaneously.


Instagram Ad Formats:

  • Stories ads
    Insta stories are full screen ads that appear between user stories.
  • Photo ads
    Photo ads allow brands to showcase their products and services through compelling images, if your content is already top notch, you can use this platform to share the content with more people or create new content specifically to run as an ad.
  • Video ads
    Video ads on Instagram can be up to one minute long, so they give you a chance to give users a closer look at your brand. That said, shorter videos can often be more effective, especially if you include branding in the few seconds on the ad.
  • Carousel ads
    this type of format allows you to use up to 10 images or videos to promote your product or service. This format allows you to say something specific about each image or video.
  • Instagram Shopping ads
    these ads take the shopper directly to a product description page within the Instagram app and allows them to make a purchase through the mobile website.

Twitter Advertising

Twitter; the “breaking news” platform of social media. This fast-paced, on-the-pulse platform sees millions of tweets per day, with millions of active users. Being able to target audiences based on a number of variables such as interests, demographics, operating system, brands they follow, means your content is targeted to the right people, while they are seeking constant updates on the world around them.


Types of Twitter Ads:
There are different ways of advertising on Twitter, let’s look at the available advertising formats below.

  • Promoted Tweets 
    Tweets that an advertiser pays to display to people who are not already following them on Twitter. Like regular tweets, they can be retweeted, liked, and so on. They look just like regular tweets, too, except that they have a label that says “Promoted.” Promoted tweets appear in targeted users’ timelines, on user profiles, at the top of search results, and in the Twitter mobile and desktop apps.
  • Promoted Account 
    Usually used to gain followers, this type of ad promotes the entire account to people who may not be following the account but would be interested in its content.
  • Promoted Trends 
    Promoted Trends allow you to promote a hashtag at the top of that list.When Twitter users click on your Promoted Trend, they see an organic list of search results for the topic, with a Promoted tweet from you at the top of the list.

3. YouTube Advertising

Video advertising is becoming more and more popular each day, with video formats now being the undisputed first choice of how consumers choose to consume their content. With its ability to use motion graphics to entice the user, video is a creative way to display your adverts before, during or after streaming content. Let’s take a look at what is possible with video advertising.

What is video advertising?
When you watch Youtube, the videos in and around the content you are watching are available to advertisers. These can be broken down into pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll options.

Types of video ads:

  • In-stream ads
    These appear before, during or after video content.
  • Non-linear ads
    Play outside the main video, sometimes as an overlay. If a person clicks on one of these ads, the primary content they’re watching stops.
  • Native auto play ads 
    Which lives at the end of content, such as a blog post. It works especially well if the ad supports the content a person just consumed.
  • Shoppable video ad
    Encourage people to practice their purchasing power and buy things right from the video rather than just browsing for them.
  • Video in search
    This type of ad shows up below the fold in the search results, and these are usually 90 seconds.

How to measure effectiveness of video advertising
The main key performance indicators (KPI) that one can look at when measuring the performance of a video advertising campaign is dependent on the objective or goal of the overall campaign. Here are some indicators you can include in your measurement, which are all available to you in the dashboard:

  • Awareness
    Percentage of conversations about the brand, increase in recall or recognition and number of unique views.
  • Traffic
    Percentage of new visitors to a site and of people who visit after clicking on a link in a video.
  • Lead generation
    Number of conversions, cost per lead on video channels versus non-video channels and overall conversion rate.
  • Purchases
    Number of purchases due to a link or a promo code shown in a video ad and the average amount spent.

4. Google Display Advertising

The Google Display Network (GDN) is the largest advertising network available online. By using GDN, you are able to place display ads on millions of websites in a range of formats to the specific websites whose audiences match your target market. It allows advertisers to access all of these websites from a single place, rather than attempting to advertise on each website individually.

Why use display advertising?

The Google Display Network accounts for 20% of all Google Ads traffic, and reaches an estimated 90% of all internet users. With such wide reach, the power of this digital advertising avenue is not something to ignore.

Types of Online Display Advertising
The display network allows a variety of ad formats, including text (google search) and video as well as the standard image banner ads. Different types of ads allow for different styles of targeting. By using multiple formats, you are able to give your advertising efforts the best possible chance to drive relevant traffic, conversions and return on investment.

  • Text ads
    GDN allows you to run ads that appear the same as text ads that you would typically see on Google when searching for something.
  • Image ads
    A static image ad that exists in various sizes and is placed on the website in a variety of places.
  • Video ads
    Video ads have become more popular because YouTube is included on the Display Network. Video ads are an opportunity to deliver a richer advertising message.

What is Remarketing?

Ever wondered why you keep seeing ads of that product you once googled, whether it’s on your social media account or when you’re simply browsing content on the net? Well, that would be the magic of remarketing; those ads that follow you around the web for weeks after you have visited a particular site. Your brand can follow others around too.

How Retargeting works

The way this works is through placing a simple piece of code on your website and then purchasing remarketing space on one or more advertising networks. Once a user has visited your site, the code placed remembers them and is able to push your advert to the sites in the display network should they visit them. Genius really, as a lot of the time people would be interested in a product or service of yours but may be hesitant to purchase or need more time to decide. Remarketing serves as a constant reminder of your product/service.


Native Digital Advertising

Brands are constantly looking for ways to create deeper connections with their audience and online publishers are always on the search for new ways to produce revenue. Native advertising is the way in which both are able to reach those objectives.

What is Native Content?

Native advertising is also known as sponsored content or advertorials, and it is designed to look native to the platform it’s displayed on. Native content is now more typically seen as a tool to publish informational and educational articles on digital publications. The point of this is to provide the consumer with value-added content, whilst creating brand awareness and delivering an underlying advertising message.

This type of advertising allows brands to create valuable connections to consumers at another touch point within the buyer’s journey as they position themselves as the answer for their audience.

Benefits of Native Advertising:

  • Native advertising adds value
    The goal for any piece of content should be to inform and engage your reader. Native advertising adds value for their readers and viewers. The best way you can provide valuable native content is to understand your audience. Publishers can provide excellent insight on who their readers are and brands can use that information to determine if there is a natural fit between the platform and their target audience. If it’s a match, native content will be more compelling and valuable to the audience as opposed to more expected advertising formats.
  • Storytelling
    Native advertising is meant to flawlessly integrate with the content on the chosen platform. Using promotional language is not how you get your audience to connect with your brand. Telling real stories is a great way to engage with your audience in an authentic way, while also providing them with useful information.
  • Attracts more readers
    Native advertising has the ability to attract much more attention from the readers. This is mainly due to the fact that native advertising uses the format and style of the digital content to promote a certain service or product. Like this, it is less noticeable as blatant advertising. Furthermore, as it contains information which is useful and productive to the users, and as such is more likely to be shared on social media, increasing its reach and enabling the advertising message to reach as many potential clients as possible.

Programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is the automatic process of buying and selling ad display inventory. Ad inventory being the online space available for ads. The beauty of programmatic advertising is that the supply side platform (which is where this inventory is controlled) will ensure your ads show up in front of a consumer who is actively interested in your products or services based on their personal data, on the website that they happen to be browsing. This means your ad is showing up at the right moment, in front of the right person and with little to no wasted views .

How does Programmatic Advertising work?

Once an ad is bought with programmatic advertising the algorithms will automatically assess the user analytics, based on the following criteria:

  • Behaviour
    Mobile, Desktop
  • Engagement level
    Click- throughs
  • Location
    Where the consumers are when they see the ad
  • Time per visit
    How long they stayed

This kind of information helps the system to determine which ads are relevant to a targeted particular user. The overall aim of a display advert, is for the user to click it and go through to the desired landing page.

An example would be, a user is reading an article online about fitness clothing. The programmatic system evaluates the user and displays an ad related to fitness clothing websites, fitness gear shops etc.

By targeting the ad to specific users, this type of online advertising increases the success of an ad campaign. Gone are the days of having to manually type in who you want to see your ad. The system that programmatic advertising uses automatically targets the right audience. The audience is selected via metrics that are received through algorithms.

Programmatic native advertising formats

Native programmatic advertising is a method of placement that allows advertisers to make native ads even more relevant.

Native advertising placements are when display ads are sitting within content. They look like part of the article itself. Native ads are enthralling, and that is why they often have a higher click through rate.

Programmatic video advertising

Programmatic video advertising uses algorithms to deliver video ads in existing video content. There are two main types of video ads:

  • Instream video ads
    They are delivered before or during video content. 15-30 second duration and have a skip ad option.
  • Outstream video ads
    These are videos that are positioned inside article content.

Why use programmatic advertising?

Programmatic is a highly effective method for increasing your impressions. The technology behind programmatic advertising is able to break down granular information for your data analysis. Programmatic is able to integrate into gaming apps which are becoming much more popular to certain audience pools.


Why use digital advertising?

Digital advertising is arguably where a potential customer is most likely to first encounter your brand in this day and age. It enables you to build awareness, increase traffic to your brand platforms, tell your brand story in real time, through different channels and devices and allows for an ongoing “conversation” between the brand and the consumer. These benefits create brand resonance with consumers, but will ultimately drive conversions, sales and help you to achieve your business goals. Digital advertising is measurable, scalable and affordable making it accessible to just about all advertisers.

Benefits of Digital Advertising:

  • Your audience is always online
    You’re currently engaging with this article online. You probably clicked onto it while browsing through your social feed or you actively went onto your search engine to find out what digital advertising is all about. The point is you were on the internet on your mobile device or PC. The majority of the world’s population is entrenched in the digital online space, so why not entrench your business where your audience is?
  • Digital allows targeted advertising
    With digital, advertisers can now target the exact audience that’s mostly likely to purchase their product. By combining the power of marketing automation and an advertising network or platform, you can avoid sending messages to people who aren’t your target audience and less likely to purchase your offering.
  • Availability of consumer data allows for personalisation of ad messages
    With today’s powerful marketing and advertising tools, there is so much data available on your customers. By leveraging the latest and greatest data analytical tools, you can leverage customer profile and intent data from many different channels to have one seamless view of the customer. You can personalize your ads based on who the individual is, from their behaviour, demographics, where they are in the buying cycle, their level of engagement with your brand, and the content or offers they have viewed. With this advanced personalization, you can have more relevant conversations with buyers across all channels.
  • Provides flexibility across multiple channels
    The internet is broad, and if you want to make a success of your digital campaign it is important that you try to make use of multiple channels to reach your audience. Digital allows you to use the same piece of content on different platforms. The same video message can be delivered in in-depth context via platforms like YouTube or Instagram TV; in snippets via Twitter or Facebook posts, in infographics on Instagram or an emailer, the possibilities are virtually endless.
  • Digital allows for mobile engagement
    Digital advertising allows you to reach your audience on the go, wherever they are, whenever they are online. It’s an especially great place to reach Gen Z and Millennial customers. Because digital ads reach the consumer where they are, they are most likely to take notice of them and take action right away; for example, an ad pops up on your Instagram feed while you’re scrolling through, this ad landed on your feed as a result of data about your past interests and browsing history, as mentioned previously, meaning what your seeing is something you are interested in, and therefore you are more likely to click on the ad.
  • Digital advertising is easily measurable
    With all the analytical tools available on the digital platforms, you are able to track how each campaign is performing, from the number of clicks, shares, opens and even who interacted with the ad.
    The key reason for tracking metrics is to speak the same language that your CEO and your CFO do. While soft metrics like brand awareness, impressions, organic search rankings, and reach are important, their real value lies in how they can be quantifiably connected to hard metrics like pipeline, revenue, and profit. Digital advertising offers a platform for tracking both types of metrics to show a concrete return on investment (ROI).
  • Digital advertising can go viral
    Digital marketing campaigns are unique in that they have the potential to go viral. Viral ads surpass the initial marketing spend / budget and self replicate amongst audiences through social platforms.
    While there is no exact formula for viral campaigns, we have all seen their success. Take the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”campaign, which had 57 million views on Youtube with hundreds of thousands in social engagement on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

What are the costs of digital advertising?

Now that we have a basic understanding of the types of digital advertising options and their benefits, you are probably wondering about the costs that go into making digital advertising work for your business. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question. The cost depends on the chosen channel and your objectives. While corporate digital advertising budgets can go into the millions, it is such a scalable advertising form, meaning that even start ups and entrepreneurs are able to afford digital marketing with a specialised digital agency, which is not the case with traditional advertising channels.

Here is a simple breakdown of some of the channels and the factors that go into the cost of each of them.

Paid Search advertising (PPC) Costs

With paid search you only pay once someone clicks on your ad, and this is very dependent on search volumes – (if people are searching for your keywords). The more people search for a keyword, for example “Buy women’s shoes”, the more expensive it will be because pricing is determined on a bidding process driven by how many advertisers want their ads to appear in the searches for those keywords. As you can imagine, many other businesses selling womens shoes online are competing for that same keyword which drives up the cost. You can control how much you’re willing to spend for a keyword by inputting your maximum CPC. (the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a click on a certain keyword.)

Paid Social Media Advertising Costs

When looking at the cost of social media advertising, you need to consider all the elements involved. These could include:

  • Strategy
  • Copywriting
  • Design/videography/creative
  • Ad spend
  • Results tracking

When looking at Ad spend, specifically in the example of the Facebook platform, factors such as target audience, time of year, ad quality/relevance, ad placements all play a factor in the cost of the ad. Some of the ballpark budgets for social media advertisements are:

Facebook and Instagram

  • At least $3 a day when targeting impressions as your key metric
  • Ads targeted for clicks, likes, video views or post-engagement need a daily minimum budget of at least $30 a day.


  • Website visits: $5 – $30
  • Awareness campaigns: $12 – $30


For LinkedIn, you need to have at least a $5 minimum CPC bid on text campaigns, while the minimum bid requirement for Sponsored Content varies based on your target audience.

These are only guidelines and, as with most marketing efforts, the size and speed of the impact a campaign makes will depend on the budget put behind it.

Video advertising

YouTube will charge you according to the ad unit you choose. If you use the TrueView instream video ads, you’re only charged when a viewer watches at least 30 seconds of your ad.

The next factor which influences the cost of YouTube ads is the bidding option. Similar to what we mentioned above. The amount you set as a cost-per-view (CPV) bid lets Google know the maximum price that you’re willing to pay for a view or interaction. You will only be charged the minimum amount it takes to have your ad placed over a competitor’s.


How to create your digital advertising strategy

By now you have an understanding of what digital advertising is about, and the factors that go into the costs of digital advertising. Ready to get started? The first thing you need is a plan. You need to draw up your digital advertising strategy. Let’s take you through some of the basics that you should cover in your strategy to ensure that it gives you the results you are looking for. How do you know the type of ads you should be running and how to precisely target those ads?

1. Define your target audience

In order to know what types of digital ads to run, you need to know who you are targeting. The better understanding you have of your audience the better you’ll be at creating content and choosing the ad platforms that they will be interested in.

When defining your target audience, here are some ideas of where to start:

  • Start with who you already have (your current customers), that way you know what to look for when defining your future audience. Gather information such as age, gender, language, location, spending power and patterns, as well as interests.
  • Use tools like Facebook Audience Insights for an in depth analysis of your audience.
  • Check out the competitors audience and how engaged they are with the type of content your competitors are publishing.

2. Set your goals and objectives

Your advertising goals should tie back to the central goals of the business. If brand awareness is one of the central goals of the business, your ad strategy needs to include the tools that will ensure that this goal is met. It’s important to ensure that your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Based).

3. Evaluate your existing digital assets

Avoid spending money on things that are not working and evaluate your current brand and digital assets critically. This may require an improvement of your visual assets, brand, imagery etc. or an overhaul of one or more of your platforms such as designing a website. The online world moves so fast and your digital assets need to keep pace.

4. Do Keyword Research for SEO and PPC

The right keywords will help you connect with your audience, and if you use them correctly they can show your audience relevant content that matches their level of intent. The success of paid search ads is highly dependent on the right keywords.

How to find the right keywords:

  • Start brainstorming
  • Checkout the competition
  • Make use of tools such as Keyword Planner
  • Refine your keyword list
  • Group the keyword into ad groups

5. Understand the digital sales funnel and the consumer journey

By understanding the digital sales funnel, and where your target audience is within the funnel you are able to create content that is relevant to their purchasing stage, which in turn leads to engagement with the content and possible conversions. The Customer Journey is the path people follow as they build a relationship with your business, from first view or click to final sale/conversion. There are three clear channels this funnel follows:

  • Awareness
    This is the top of the funnel, when new prospects first discover that your business exists and that you have something they need and/or want.
  • Evaluation
    This is the middle of the funnel, when prospects are seriously considering making a purchase.
  • Conversion
    The is the bottom of the funnel, where people take action and buy something from you.
  • Advocacy
    This is the final stage of the funnel, once a person has taken action and become a customer, they are now a potential brand advocate and silent salesperson.

6. Set an ad budget based on the platforms you have decided to advertise on

As previously discussed, the costs of digital advertising are very dependent on what you are trying to achieve and how you plan on going about it. Once you have selected the suitable digital channels for your ad campaign and you have set your goals and how long you want the ad to run for, you can then calculate what it is going to cost you.


Your Digital Advertising Partner for 2020

If you’d like to chat to Empire about your needs, we’d be proud to share some of our past success stories with you. We’re also happy to make you a good cup of coffee and share some advice and thoughts on how to go about your digital advertising efforts.

Get in touch with us. We’ll get the coffee brewing in the meanwhile.