The advent of the internet age has literally changed the way both businesses and consumers now find information. And with that change, companies have continuously tried to find new ways to make money off of that information, or at minimum, the most relevant information being sought.

Part of the evolution of the internet age has been the rise of online advertising. Online advertising is defined exactly as it sounds–any advertising done online or on the Internet. In the last decade alone, online advertising has grown in importance for not only businesses, but consumers, too, especially as it becomes easier and easier to search for specific products.

As an example, let’s use cat toys.  Today, you can easily go to your favorite search engine and type in “cat toys”. Or, maybe you skip the search engine and go directly to a business’s website and search their site directly. After this search occurs, you may often notice an ad for cat toys that pops up on the page at which you’re looking. Viola! This is online advertising at its finest.

Taking it a step further, maybe you’re on a particular website looking for cat toys and you eventually leave the page. Throughout the day, as you visit other sites, you continue to come across ads for the same cat toy at which you were originally looking. This is called “re-targeting” and is another form of online advertising that’s popular today.

The simplest form of online advertising, and probably the best known, are banner ads. They show up on all different types of websites that you utilize on a daily basis.

Examples of Online Advertising

Some of the simplest types of online advertising come in the form of web banner ads, content ads, and even mobile ads. More complex forms of online advertising include online radio ads, video pre-roll ads and re-targeted ads, the latter of the three gaining the most traction in the last few years. These are just a few of the many forms of online advertising out there. What does all of this mean to you? Well, let’s find out:

  • Web Banner Ads are the most common type of online ad. They can be either static or motion in nature, and can be seen on a wide variety of websites. These ads usually have graphics and/or short text relating to a certain product, service, event, etc.
  • Content ads are similar to web banner ads as they usually show up on the same page as relevant content. For example, if the person searching is reading an article on how to market their small business, a content ad may include a marketing company (such as Absolute) and relevant text about the company.
  • Mobile ads are becoming more popular with the recent boom of mobile usage (both phone and tablet) and for their convenience. They are generally smaller ads that show up exclusively on mobile devices.
  • Online Radio Ads are in radio format and are played online usually through a streaming device, such as a local radio station website or app, and even through other online music sources.
  • Video Pre-roll Ads are similar to online radio ads, but include video, much like a traditional television ad. They can be seen on different websites, apps, etc.
  • Re-Targeted ads are the ads that follow the users around after they’ve searched for a product or service and after they leave the original page. They also show up for users based on particular content for which they are searching. Re-Targeted ads are great for top-of-mind awareness.

Benefits to both Consumers and Businesses

Online advertising benefits both businesses and consumers. Let’s begin with the consumer.

In addition to helping consumers finding items, online advertising also brings to our attention things in which we might be interested. It eventually makes the searching process much faster and easier for the consumer.

For most businesses online advertising should be an integral part of every media/marketing campaign as it allows them to get their content directly into the hands of their target audience. By utilizing a mix of one, two or even more types of online advertising, businesses have the opportunity to reach almost anyone, oftentimes with the advantage of being able to directly choose who sees your ad through targeted marketing.

Another major, and I emphasize major, advantage is the ability to track your ads. By just setting up simple analytics on your website you will be able to see from where people are coming to your site. Using the cat toy example from above, a small business that sells cat toys on its website may want to run different variations of cat toy ads via different online advertising sources. By utilizing the analytics on the website, the business will be able to see from where the end consumer is coming and target their online advertising accordingly.

Overall, while it takes some time to fully master how to best use online advertising for your business, ultimately it’s a very beneficial tool for both the consumer and the business.

Final Thoughts

Like I said earlier, there are more types of online advertising out there than just the ones I’ve listed, although those are the ones with which I work most with on a daily basis. There’s always the option of including SEM, social media and even email marketing in the mix, but we’ll have to save that for another time.