Our Super Simple Step-by-step Guide to Online Advertising


You’d think that online advertising would be an accessible game. The truth is that dizzying terminology and the strange topography of the landscape often present a challenging barrier to entry.

Global ad spend on online advertising is expected to reach almost US$275 billion by 2020, roughly US$80 billion more than ad spend on television. Online advertising is clearly big business, but you don’t have to be a specialist advertising agency or big business to navigate its crowded digital jungles.

Today we’re taking out our digital maps, hunting out our compass and leading the way on an exploration of the online advertising ecosystem. This doesn’t have to be a confusing land that snares the unwary, and with some simple understanding, you can unlock a brave future of exploration for your brand.

The metrics and measures of online advertising

Traditional advertising is measured by ‘impressions’. That is essentially the number of people that an advert is judged to be viewed by. The online advertising space is slightly more complex, with different advertising types utilising different measures of value. Understanding what you’re paying for is the best place to start.

What is PPC (pay per click)?

Pay-per-click is an action-based measure of advertising, where an advertiser pays for each ‘click’ of a unique user on a particular online advertisement.

Often PPC advertising is purchased with a specific budget limit set, meaning you pay for a certain number of clicks at a specific cost up until a certain specified budget is spent. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with cost-per-click (CPC), although strictly the CPC relates to the cost of a click itself, and PPC refers to the advertising framework.

What is CPM (cost per thousand)?

Cost-per-mille, or cost-per-thousand, is a measure where advertisers pay for every thousand impressions that their online advert will receive.

If a publisher is charging RM20 for every 1,000 impressions, that’s a CPM of RM20. Generally the success of these online campaigns are measured by ‘click-through-rate’ or CTR, that’s basically how many users who viewed the advert actually click on it to redirect to the site you want them to visit. A  

CTR of about 2% may seem low, but for some types of advertising in this space it would be astronomical. It really does depend on the avenue you find yourself pursuing.

What is CPA (cost per action)

Cost-per-action or cost-per-acquisition, is another action-based measure. It’s more specific than CPC in that it often designates converting to a specific result such as purchasing a product.

CPA is based solely on the completion of a specific action. In this model, a publisher is reliant on being able to convert to the advertisers required goals in order to achieve a level of commission based on this action.

Understanding basic forms of online advertising

Now we’ve got some essential terminology out of the way, we can turn to the topography. There are various forms of online advertising, which means that choosing the right one for your brand isn’t always easy. Let’s explore a basic understanding of the most common forms.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is about visible, paid-for advertising on third-party websites or mobile applications. Think of those banner adverts you see on the top of websites, or pop-ups that emerge from nowhere to demand you buy a new toaster.

Display advertising is based around eye-catching adverts utilising rich media, text, images, audio and video content. These tend to be paid advert placements much like traditional advertising, although often with benefit of a more targeted demographic understanding.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) should not be confused with search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO is about organic growth through best-practice web design and positioning. SEM is an overarching term under which SEO would fall, but for our purposes we’re talking about the advertising element that relates to paid visibility in search engine results.

SEM marketing adverts will be PPC or CPM based, where you bid on the advert for specific keywords or terms to promote your business as a paid result in search queries. I’m sure you’ve all seen those prominent results on Google noted with an [Ad] sign.

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising really explains itself, but the nuances and complexities go far deeper than a simple understanding of the term. From Facebook to Twitter, social media advertising by platform can vary significantly. Where it offers a unique benefit is often around the detailed demographic targeting that platforms like Facebook provide.

The popularity of this advertising is growing, with global ad spend on social platforms expected to reach US$58 billion in 2018, rising to US$76 billion by 2020. The good thing is it’s easy to start get started with, just double and triple check that you’ve set your budget low before you go playing around with the company bank balance.

Video Advertising

Analysts Cisco predicts that by 2021, a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every second. That’s a huge opportunity for marketers, which is why video advertising is an increasingly important playground.

The biggest playground of all is of course YouTube, with more than a billion users eagerly streaming videos from around the world. YouTube offers a variety of ad types, from PPC style video adverts that appear in YouTube search to those (smash-your-screen-between-videos) adverts that are inserted into video content you actually want to watch. YouTube benefits from similar targeting opportunities as other social media platforms.

Of course video advertising isn’t necessarily restricted to paid adverts. A more organic approach is simply to create and host your own videos that your audience will find valuable, providing an ideal opportunity for positive brand amplification.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is a little bit like online advertising in camouflage. It’s the sneaky little promotion that tucks its way into the end of a blog post, or integrates itself into a form of media in a way that makes it feel naturally ‘native’ to the platform.

You can find native adverts on everything from social media feeds to your favourite cookery blog. The defining feature of native advertising is that it should be designed not to disrupt the regular user experience, but instead fit seamlessly into the environment in which it is placed.

Remarketing or Retargeting

Remarketing or retargeting is possibly the most technically tricksy form of online advertising. This is about utilising a simple cookie ID, common to all websites, to continue to target those users who have previously visited your company’s site.

Ever visited a website to look at a pair of shoes, only to find those shoes stalking you through your online experience for weeks to come? That’s remarketing. It might sound too complex for a mere novice, but as ever the digital-devils at Google (and similar sites) provide simplified step-by-step remarketing tools to unlock this opportunity for your brand.

This is just a nutshell of all you need to know about online advertising. If you are still unsure where to start or which direction to go to, entrust your ad budget to the professionals and schedule a free consultation with us to get some advice on what would be the best online strategy for your business.

Close Menu