The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Online Advertising Platform

Trouble choosing an online ad platform?

Take a look at these numbers. In the first quarter of 2018, Facebook's ad revenue totaled $11.8 billion. Google made more than twice that much, $26.6 billion.

Other big names in digital advertising can't compare. Twitter, for instance, made $665 million last quarter. LinkedIn only made $1.3 billion during the entire year of 2017.

As you can see, Google is the uncontested leader, followed distantly by Facebook. The other digital advertising companies can barely be tracked on the same graph. They fight for scraps from the leaders' table.

Does that mean Google and Facebook are your only choices if you want the best online advertising?

Hardly. Marketing and advertising are rarely as straightforward as they seem. Throughout this article, we'll dissect the different forms of digital advertising available. Before you leave you'll know which platform is best for which purpose.

Read on.


The Best Online Advertising

We live in a world of "best's." The best SUV, the best laundry detergent, the best smartphone. The word has become ubiquitous, and in so doing, lost its original meaning.

Sure, the word is used to compare two or more things in a hierarchy. The problem is "best" compares those things in a singular category. When people hear the word nowadays, they make the assumption it means best in every category.

We make this distinction up front. We want you to understand there is no single best ad platform. Each excels in different categories.

Types Of Social Media Platforms:

  • Social networking (Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Microblogging (Tumblr, Twitter)
  • Photo sharing (Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat)
  • Video sharing (YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Live, Periscope)

Expert marketers choose the platform that suits their needs at that moment. To get the highest ROI, that decision is based on extensive research of their target audience.

Before you choose an advertising platform, perform investigative research on your target audience. Novice marketers avoid this step, and can't figure out why their click-through-rate is so low. If you want to be a pro, you'll have to put in the extra work.


Search Advertising Platforms

These are the sponsored ads you find at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). They're often difficult to distinguish from normal ranked results without close inspection. They use keywords in a user's search criteria to determine which ads to place in front of them.

These ads land in the first 1-4 spots in the SERPS. The platforms now offer other spots to place your ad, including banners and sidebars.

In essence, you pay each time a user clicks on your ad. They're redirected to the spot you linked the advert.

The best part about search ads is their timing and specificity. The ads only land in front of users when they search for keywords you defined. You strike when the iron is hot.

  • Highly accurate targeting
  • Keyword focused
  • Option to include negative keywords

If you choose search advertising, focus on click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates (CVRs). Test them. Tweak your ads. Then test them again.


Google AdWords

As we already discussed, AdWords is the big dog in town. It's no wonder, so many marketers choose to advertise with them.

Google AdWords is unique because of the variety of ad choices offered. Google will throw your ads in front of visitors at all of their many pieces of digital real estate. That includes apps, search engines, and websites.

To run your ad, you have to bid on specific keywords. Some keywords are more expensive than others. If your competition is heavy, your costs will soar.

AdWords is by far the most expensive option available.


Bing Ads

The number one reason to choose Bing Ads over AdWords is the cost. Bing also uses an auction system, but the competition and bids are much lower.


Google Shopping

Yes, it's owned by Google, but it's a separate ad format. It lets sellers target customers when they search for a specific product, like tennis shoes.

You simply need an e-commerce store to connect to a Google Merchant account to get started. Google will import your product feed to start building the ads and get them online.


Social Media Advertising Platforms

If you choose to advertise on social media, you'd better know which platform your target customers prefer. It'd be a waste of time to run a campaign on Twitter if your customers spent their time on Pinterest instead. This also comes down to time, as if you are spending all of your time posting on Instagram, you have no other time to interact on other platforms. This is why it may be helpful to learn how to schedule instagram posts as you'll have more time to interact across multiple platforms.

These platforms operate under a promoted posts concept or on targeted ads based on behavior and interests on the social media platform. People can see your ads and content based on your targeting, so they don't have to follow or like your page to see it.

You pay on a CPC or CPM basis. Prices typically are cheaper.

Social media advertising gives you the opportunity to engage with customers in their home territory.


Twitter Advertising

It's the second largest social media platform in the world. Each Tweet can be no longer than 280 characters, so make your Twitter ads short and sweet. The lifespan of a Tweet rarely lasts longer than 2 hours, so you don't get as much exposure as other platforms. You also have the option to get content in front of users that are not following you using a paid ad instead.


LinkedIn Advertising

If you're trying to target professionals, especially those with college degrees, LinkedIn should be your first stop. The entire platform is built to connect with professionals.

The LinkedIn advertising market is rapidly gaining traction. We recommend you try them out while they're still expanding.


Pinterest Advertising

If your target customers are interested in the aesthetics of things, Pinterest is probably their go-to. Good candidates might include designers, architects, landscapers, foodies, fashion enthusiasts, and the like. The platform is also primarily female.

The platform is set up as a scrolling image file. When you invest in Pinterest advertising, you'll need to create your clickable image. Pinterest will include it with hundreds of other images on a user's feed.


Instagram Advertising

This is another image-based platform. It works similar to Pinterest. It's ideal if you're trying to reach a young market. 55% of its users are between the ages of 18 to 29. Instagram ads are actually setup through the Facebook Ads dashboard, since Facebook owns Instagram, they do not have a separate advertising platform.


Facebook Advertising

The largest difference between Facebook and all other types of ad platforms is the targeting criteria. Users freely give Facebook gobs of personal information about themselves. Facebook uses this to narrow down ad relevancy.

  • Language
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Relationship status
  • Ethnicity
  • Type of Work
  • Interests
  • Hobbies
  • Behavior

With Facebook Advertising, you're going to pay more than with any other social media platform. You have the choice of paying for CPC or CPMs, whichever coincides with your campaign strategy.


YouTube Advertising

Google owns YouTube. When you sign up for AdWords, you have the option of using YourTube advertising as an option.

For those of you not in the know, YouTube is a video-only platform. It also happens to be the second largest search engine in the world. (Google is the first).

This is a great option for getting highly engaging video ads in front of the right audience while they are consuming other video content on YouTube and other video partner networks.


What's Next?

Already done? Did you discover the best online advertising platform for your needs? Marketers rarely choose just one.

If you enjoyed this article, take five minutes to check out our assortment of other great marketing articles. You won't be disappointed.


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