types of online advertisingStarting a business is an incredible adventure; working for yourself, taking control of your future, and turning a profit on something that you really love to do make entrepreneurship a very appealing option. These days, the internet makes it easier than ever to get your brand developed and your name out there, whether you are doing business solely online, or just using it is a tool to spread the word about your business. The internet is a wonderful advertising tool, but like any tool, you must first understand how to use it before you can make it work for you.

When you’re building your start-up, there are a lot of things that you’ll have to do solo; but demystifying the ins and outs of online advertising doesn’t have to be one of them. It just so happens that we’ve got a great little primer right here that discusses the different types of advertising. We will go over the benefits and potential draw backs to each type, and by the time you’re through, you’ll have a great place to start as you start to make the advertising decisions that will ultimately boost your sales and help your start-up succeed!

Know Your Advertising Types

The first thing you need to know when you are considering using the internet to advertise your brand is what types of online advertising are at your disposal. There’s a lot of information out there, which only makes sense: you have a whole slew of options! You might choose just one to start, or you may decide to use a few simultaneously. That will all depend on what your needs are as a business. We’ll define each type in this section, and then explore each on in depth as we go forward.

Display advertising is pretty simple to define: it’s the visual stuff. You’re probably already pretty familiar with them; videos, banners, even the dreaded pop-up are all types of online advertising that fall under the umbrella of “display”.

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, and has a few components. Put simply, this is type of online advertising that attempts to increase a brand’s visibility in a search engine when a potential consumer is searching for like products, services or goods.

More and more companies are looking to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to grow their visibility and fuel sales. Arguably one of the easiest to use but trickiest to master types of online advertising at your disposal.

There are lots of other options available, and you can see that with all of these delivery systems for your online advertising needs, you won’t be short of options when you begin deciding how you’d like to spend your advertising budget. Not only are there a lot of paths to explore, each type of ad system has a number of vendors and suppliers vying for your time and resources. Understanding which sources are reputable, effective, and will give you the most bang for your buck is absolutely vital.


As noted, display advertising include all of the visual ways to get your message across; videos, graphics, banners, sidebars, logos, photos…you get the idea. The display delivery system has come a long way from the early days of internet advertising, and it isn’t uncommon to see ads that are more experiential than passive, like interactive video ads.

Common Types:


Visibility: Of all the types of online advertising, display has the best chance of making a visual impression; a consumer can see your logo, your service, your contact information, or really whatever information you choose to include, which can make a lasting impression.

Targeting: Huge steps have been made in targeting potential consumers, mainly through the use of behavioral targeting, which uses cookies and search data to deliver ads to people who are more inclined to want what you’re offering. Geographical targeting, on the other hand, will target consumers that are close to your location, which is especially useful for small brick and mortar shops.


Blindness: Given how conditioned consumers are to seeing display ads, there’s some evidence that they will ignore ad-heavy spots on a page (header, sidebar) out of habit or disinterest.


Of all the types of online advertising, search engine marketing has to be one of the most dynamic and challenging to harness. Basically, popular search engines like Google use complex algorithms to deliver searched-for content in their results pages. It obviously pays to be one of the first few results on a popular search engine! However, because these algorithms are constantly changing, staying on top of the search engine optimization (or SEO) methods can be a little challenging. 

Common Methods:


Origination: Many customers will hit search engines first when they are looking for a new product or service, or attempting to locate one that they haven’t had luck finding. By making yourself visible from the point of origination, you are more likely to get those customers.


Inorganic Results: As mentioned, paid inclusion types of online advertising put your ad at the top of the pile, but they are also marked as “sponsored”, so searchers will know that they haven’t found you organically. Some choose to skip paid ads entirely because they find them disengenuous.

Social Media

Social media marketing is definitely the current sweetheart of types of online advertising choices that you have available to you. As you probably already know, social media refers to the various online communities and sites that allow people to interact with one another instantly, sharing the information, products, and services that they find interesting over various platforms. Virality, or the exponential rate at which information is shared is what makes social media marketing so desirable–though it can be a little tougher to determine which things actually will spread like wildfire.

Common Methods:


Low Cost: With a few caveats (one of which we’ll discuss in a second), most social media accounts are free to open and operate, making this one of the cheaper types of online advertising.

Increased Visibility: Many people enable push notifications, which update their mobile devices and computers immediately with alerts from social media sites. The popularity of these sites, and potential consumers’ constant interaction with them means that you’ll have a larger chance of being seen by more people.


Understanding TOS: Every social media platform has a TOS agreement, or Terms of Service agreement. If you’re considering using social media marketing as an advertising tool, it is important that you know what each TOS says. A lot of communication and promotional techniques that used to be very popular (giveaways on Facebook pages, direct messaging twitter users) are now either prohibited or limited. You want to make sure that even with limitations, these types of online advertising tools will still meet your needs before you dive in.

Community Management: If you are successful in marketing your business on social media, than you’ll eventually have a growing community of customers, followers and fans. That’s great! But it also requires an understanding of community management. Some people opt to hire community managers, which can increase the cost of these types of online advertising platforms. Another option, if you’re the ambitious type–and we bet you are–is to learn some valuable skills on your own on how to effectively manage your platforms and acolytes. 

Keeping it Above Board

The one thing that all of these types of online advertising have in common is that none of them are a free-for-all. A lot of the same rules of traditional advertising still apply to internet advertising, so be prepared to familiarize yourself with them.

Display ads, for instance, are often limited to pixel size and intrusiveness. Privacy concerns remain a very real issue among consumers, so you’ll need to be aware of any tracking methods that you use and ensure that they do not violate privacy policies.

Spam is also a very big no-no. Not only does it irritate consumers, there are actually regulations and legal issues surrounding it, so it is important to understand what constitutes spam and what does not to ensure that you are on the up and up.

So what are the next steps? Well, that’s entirely up to you! The first thing you should do is take a thorough stock of your advertising needs and see how these and other types of online advertising can meet those needs. Educating yourself and your employees in social media marketing will give you a definite leg up, and understanding how to build the kind of sites that people want to purchase things from will keep you on top! 



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