No wonder lots of non-marketing individuals and even marketing individuals are so confused. I can’t think of any other form of advertising or marketing that is referenced in the number of ways that what I call “online advertising” is.
Note: this post was updated on 12/20/22 to incorporate additional online advertising terms those considering or running online ads should be familiar with.
Online Advertising Terminology
It would take hours and hours to explain the pro’s and con’s and different opportunities associated with online advertising, so this post simply aims to provide a basic understanding of terminology, so you can at least feel comfortable initiating or participating in a discussion about online advertising.
- Online advertising or marketing = digital marketing, and is advertising that appears above or to the right of search engine results (search advertising), when you are visiting a web site (banner or display advertising) or social media site (social advertising). All these forms of advertising and marketing are only accessible through an internet connection via a computer, tablet, mobile phone, or other hand-held device.
- PPC or P-P-C advertising = pay-per-click advertising = advertising that you only pay for when your ads are presented to an individual online, either as a result of a query they typed into a search engine like “Google” or “Bing”, or as a result of an individual visiting a web site that is part of the “placements” you selected for your “display” advertising.
- Google Adwords advertising = search network or display network advertising. You can have your ads appear above or to the right of organic search results as a result of an individual typing an appropriate search query into the Google search engine (search network) or you can have them appear on web sites participating in Google’s display partner program, such as the “New York Times”.
- Paid search advertising = advertising for which you pay to appear in response to individuals entering certain search phrases (or what’s known as “keywords”) into a search engine like “Google” or “Bing”.
- Search engine marketing (SEM) or search marketing or search advertising = paid search advertising.
- Banner advertising = when you purchase ad space directly from a particular organization (such as the “Boston Globe”), so that your ad will appear on that organization’s Web site. This form of advertising has become significantly less popular with the growth of paid search advertising since, in general, paid search allows you to reach a larger number of individuals who may want or need your product or services, at a much lower price.
- Social advertising or social media advertising or paid social = actual ad presentation or promotion of your profile or page within a social media site, such as Facebook.
As I stated at the top of my post, understanding the terminology is just the tip of the iceberg as far as online advertising goes. There are so many different online advertising opportunities. For example, you can choose to only run your advertising in certain zip codes, at certain times of the day, or on certain days of the week. And, you can decide you only want your ad presented when someone enters the exact phrase “online advertising genius” into a search engine, is identified as having a particular interest, or is reading content related to your product or service (contextual advertising).
Google Ads Expertise
I am currently studying to become a Google AdWords Partner (we’ve taken and passed a number of exams since we first published this post and Google AdWords is now referred to as Google Ads), while enhancing my previous hands-on experience managing, monitoring, and optimizing campaigns by overseeing both my own and client Google search and display network advertising campaigns. In addition, I’ve overseen online advertising for my most recent employer. What I’m learning as I manage campaigns and study for exams is this — anyone can set up a Google AdWords (Google Ads)account and start a campaign, but in order to truly run an effective campaign — one that maximizes both your budget and the achievement of your objectives, whether they be awareness, requests for information, or actual sales — you really need to have a strong understanding of all the many intricacies of search, display, and social advertising, and how to best optimize your campaign and maximize your online marketing dollars.
I suggest the following:
- Unless you have the time and staff to understand the many nuances of and opportunities available through online advertising, particularly, Google Adwords (now known as Google Ads), don’t go it alone. You’ll probably end up wasting valuable marketing budget dollars because you won’t know how to identify the most efficient mechanism. Hire an expert, like my organization, to help you set up your advertising in the most effective fashion, and to monitor and tweak it, as needed.
- Have someone on your team study for and take the Google Adwords (Google Ads) exams. Even if they don’t pass — which is not an easy feat, but well worth the education — they’ll be better positioned to make intelligent decisions and recommendations regarding your organization’s online advertising.
I hope you’ll reach out to me at email@example.com with any questions you have about online marketing/advertising. Based on how quickly and frequently online advertising options have changed and grown during the past decade, I expect they will continue to expand and shift. Rest assured that, as a marketer particularly interested in digital and online marketing opportunities, I will continue to stay informed and knowledgeable about all online advertising opportunities, so I can help you maximize your marketing dollars.
View examples of our online advertising work.