Digital Advertising: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

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Digital advertising: everything you need to know to get started.

When it comes to advertising your business, there are so many options available to you:

Digital advertising, content marketing, print media, standing on the corner of your street with a sign and yelling at the top of your lungs (just kidding about that last one)...

With so many different marketing channels to choose from, it can be hard to know which advertising platform is the right forum for your business.

While all forms of advertising are potential success stories waiting to happen, digital advertising is my favourite method due to how easy it is to work out the return on investment of your campaigns. 

So, what types of digital advertising are there, how do they work and what do you need to have sorted before you invest any dollars?

Let’s explore....

What Is Digital Advertising?

The simple answer is: Digital Advertising is the practice of advertising your business online.

But, there are so many different aspects to digital advertising:
There are different platforms to master, various strategies to understand, and metrics to monitor. 

The good news is that you don't have to know everything to get a good return on your advertising investment. You just need to know which one will be most applicable to your business,  so you can choose the right place to invest your energies. And that is what I am here to help you do today.

What are the advantages of Digital Advertising over Traditional Advertising? 

We've already established that digital marketing is the practice of marketing your business online.

Whereas, traditional advertising includes things like:

  • Printed flyers, magazines and brochures
  • TV advertising
  • Radio advertising
  • Billboard
  • Sign writing


These types of marketing both have their place, and many would argue that both types should be part of your overall marketing plan, but digital marketing is my favourite type.

This is because, I am all about how numbers can help us grow our business more effectively, and digital advertising allows you to measure your campaign’s effectiveness from the minute it goes live, with real-time data.

As a result, you will understand what kind of content works for your audience, what generates the best return, and the exact cost of acquiring customers. 

This stops you from spending unnecessary dollars on a doomed campaign!

If we compare that to traditional advertising, unless you use a coupon code or other strategy which is specific to the campaign, it's very difficult to accurately gauge the success of your marketing.

Affordability is definitely another huge selling point! 

You can get started with digital advertising for as little as a few dollars per day, and adjust your budget according to how well the ad is doing.

Compare that to traditional advertising such as radio or print media, which cost thousands of dollars and don’t provide any real measurable data such as how many people saw the ad and clicked to your website.

What Types Of Digital Advertising Are There?

There are lots of platforms that you can choose for online marketing. Here are some of the most popular ones:


Probably the most well-known and popular platform for digital advertising, Facebook is a solid advertising option for the majority of demographics, because, with almost 2.5 billion people using the platform, you are bound to find your ideal customer here. 

With the ability to target people by age, location, interests and more, you can make sure that you are reaching the right people. You can also create custom audiences, like people who may have engaged with your business before, or lookalike audiences who are new people that have similar interests to your best customers. 

Facebook allows you to create a range of different ad styles such as image, video, text or even messenger ads. And, you can also choose different objectives like increasing website traffic, generating leads, retargeting, conversion ads, or simply gaining visibility for your business.

A potential downside of Facebook ads is that they are considered interruption marketing. 

Interruption marketing is: something designed to interrupt the user from what they’re doing, and get their attention with your campaign.

Put simply: while we can show users ads based on their interests, the people your ad is shown to are not necessarily actively searching for your product or service. This *can* mean that Facebook ads provide a lesser return on investment than Google Ads...

Our FB Ads Success program is your step-by-step guide to creating profitable and strategic Facebook Ads.


As Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can also create ads for both platforms within Facebook’s Business Suite, in the same place you'd create your Facebook ads.

With over 1 billion monthly users globally, Instagram is a strong platform for visual advertising, especially if your audience is in the 18-34 age bracket.

You can choose to promote posts, stories or reels directly from your Instagram account or create ads via your Facebook Page/Facebook Business Suite. If you use Business Suite, you can access all the same targeting options that are available for Facebook. 

Again, you can choose different ad formats like images, video, stories, shopping posts, or even choose to get your content in front of a new audience in the Explore tab.

More than half of Instagram users are under 34 and the active user demographic drops off steeply after age 44. So, Instagram is best for businesses with a demographic under this age bracket.

Google Ads

Unlike interruption ads, Google ads are considered search ads.

Search ads are: shown to users as a result of their active search for something.

When people are in Google mode, they are actively searching for something, so they are also in buying mode! That is why Google Ads can be one of the most effective forms of advertising.

On average, Google Ads show a return of $8 for every $1 spent.

Positioning your business at the top of the results (above organic results and potentially above your competitors) Google ensures you are one of the first entries seen. 

Especially if you are a product-based business and use Google Shopping ads.

As well as targeting parameters like demographics, age, and location, Google also allows another layer of refinement where you can select keywords. These are words or terms that help define what you do and how you help your customers. 

Google will match your ad with search queries, so you want to use keywords that are relevant to your business. Google wants to show the most helpful results to its users, so this platform can deliver great active leads to your business.

There are different types of Google Ads:

  • Search Ads -
    These are the text ads which come up when you search for something. For example a local service.
  • Display Ads -
    These ads are more visual than the text-based search ads, and show across the "Google Display Network".
  • Shopping Ads -
    Google shopping ads are the ones which come up right at the top of your search results, and provide you products to scroll through. They are a must-have for many online product retailers!
  • Video Ads -
    What many people don't realise is that YouTube ads are controlled in the Google ads dashboard (just like Instagram ads are controlled in Facebook Ads Manager). YouTube advertising can be a great option for many businesses if they do a lot of video marketing.


Recently, LinkedIn has had a real surge in popularity and is particularly effective for those with B2B businesses. It has shaken off its dinosaur-like reputation and now boasts an impressive 660 million active monthly users.

LinkedIn has unique targeting functions where you can focus on people in certain industries or people with certain job titles/functions. You also have the option to generate leads within the platform by including lead gen forms.

You can advertise in the feed or via the Linkedin Message function.

I would consider that LinkedIn is best for businesses wanting to advertise to medium sized businesses and organisations, rather than small businesses.

Facebook and Instagram are typically preferred platforms for small businesses and entrepreneurs, however this can vary per industry.


While Pinterest is not always an immediate go-to platform for digital advertising, it is still worth considering, especially if your product is very visual. It's also growing in popularity amongst service based businesses too.

Acting as its own kind of search platform, Pinterest has 300 million (largely female) engaged users. Studies show that 50% of pinners actively shop on Pinterest.

As a very visual platform, you can advertise by promoting certain pins so that they appear in relevant places for your audience. With targeting and the ability to set a budget, you can invest as much as you want into getting in front of the right people.

60% of Pinterest users are female, however, the age demographic using Pinterest is wide. So, it’s well worth checking to see if your demographic is represented on Pinterest.

General Display Ads

Display advertising is all about using images that appear in designated areas of certain websites. So, like the ads you see when you are reading the news online.

You can use these ads for a few different reasons - general brand awareness, retargeting people that have shown an interest in your business, or for lead generation.

Available via Google, Facebook or software like Adroll, these ads help you get in front of a lot of people for minimal investment.

Digital Advertising terms that every advertiser should know:

The paid online advertising world is full of all kinds of lingo. Before you start advertising, here are some of the key digital marketing terms that you need to know:

Ad Lingo


Your campaign specifies what goal you want to achieve with your advertising. In Facebook, your campaigns can have three different goals:

  • Awareness - to build visibility for your business
  • Consideration - to generate traffic, engagement, lead generation etc.
  • Conversion - to get users to take an action, create a conversion

Ad Set: 

Your ad sets sit inside your campaigns, and they determine who you want your ad to show to (your audience), how much you want to spend (your budget), when you want your ads to run, and where you want your ads to show (the placements).

Ad Level: 

The ad level sits inside your ad set and holds your ads.
So, so far you have your Campaign, which holds your ad sets, which holds your ads.

The ad level is where you design what your ad(s) will look like. It is where you choose the type of ad and is also where you add your media and text. Certain ad types will suit some businesses more than others.

Here are 4 types of ads you can run:
  • Single Image/Video: Perfect for service businesses, blogs and website traffic.
  • Carousel: A selection of images that cycle through on a “carousel” which is helpful for educating your audience about multiple product/service features.
  • Catalog Ad: Great for eCommerce and can link to items in your store. This ad works well for buyer browsing and remarketing.
  • Collection Ad: Another one that suits eCommerce as it displays images in a grid so you can dynamically organise products into groups.


This is the group of people that you are targeting with your campaign. You can build different types of audiences:

Custom Audience

Your custom audiences are people who have interacted with your business before (warm leads). These include your social media followers, your email list (if you upload it) and people who've visited your website. This is always the first audience I help people set up.

Saved Audience

A saved audience is one which will target people based on things like interests, demographics or location. These are people who don't know about your business yet, but might be interested in it. For example, if you are a nail technician, you might target women in your local area that are interested in beauty and make up. Or, if you are a food business, you might target people interested in food.

Lookalike Audience

A lookalike audience made from people who are “like” those that already interact with your business. They are also people who don't know about your business yet, but based on people who like your business, they might like your business too. 

You need to have custom audiences set up first, before you can create lookalike audiences. Then, you can specify a percentage of similarity that you want to use. For example, you might say, "I want to advertise to people who are within 2% of similarity to my website visitors".


Setting an ad and forgetting about it is not going to tell you anything. Which is why it is important to track and measure the effectiveness of your ads through various analytics platforms - like Facebook or Google Analytics. Analytics show you things like how many times your ad was viewed, what actions people took when they saw it and the cost involved.

Here are 18 magic metrics that every business owner should know, which includes many of the key advertising metrics you should track.

Retargeting (or remarketing): 

This is my favourite kind of marketing, and the one I recommend businesses always ensure they have. Especially if they only have a very small advertising budget.

Retargeting is powerful form of advertising that puts your business in front of people that have engaged with you before - either on your website, in your email list, or on your social pages. They are a warm audience, so converting them to a paying customer is easier than someone who has never encountered your business before. 

As I've mentioned in many of my previous marketing articles, 80% of your business's purchases are usually made after a customer sees your offer between 7-12 times. That's why re-marketing to people who've visited your website and offer page, can help you dramatically increase your sales.

Advertising Pixel: 

This is piece of code that goes on your website, tracking visitor movements and activities. It is essential for effective digital advertising as it gathers data you can use for remarketing to website visitors and tracks the success of your ads. It’s worth noting that the recent changes to IOS devices have caused massive disruption to pixel marketing, as users can now opt to not be tracked. This will affect ad retargeting and interest targeting, as well inaccuracies with reported sales.

You should never, never run ads without installing the appropriate pixel for the advertising platform you are using to run the ads, as otherwise the platform (Facebook or Google for example) can't learn what ads are working, and work to improve your success.

Payment Lingo


PPC stands for Per Per Click and it is a method of paying for your digital advertising. You only get charged a fee when one of your ads is clicked on. Your ads appear in relevant search results until your set daily/campaign budget is reached. 

The bonus with PPC is that your ad will appear on a website for free and a charge is only incurred if someone clicks it. So, many people can see your ad without actually clicking, providing you with free brand exposure!


PPI or Pay Per Impression is another form of paid advertising. You pay per ad views, rather than by clicks. Each time someone visits a website where your ad is displayed, it counts as an impression. You set a budget for the campaign or the number of impressions you would like to take place before the ad ends. 

Pay Per Conversion:

Rather than paying for clicks or impressions, you can choose to pay per conversion instead. So, you will only be charged if someone takes a certain action on your website or app. 

5 steps to take BEFORE you start advertising

While it can be tempting to jump in and get started with your first digital advertising campaign, you need to make sure you have done these 5 things first:

Get Clear On The Basics 

Before you start, you should get clear on who your ideal client is, the benefits of your products/services, the problems your clients are facing, and the solutions you offer. This will help you create advertising content that people can easily connect with (so that you don't waste your hard earned money).

Audit Your Website

Most people think that the answers to their sales problems are having more people know about their business. But, not every sales problem is a traffic problem. A lot of businesses have conversion problems too, which means that their website isn't successful in helping them get new customers.

Read this article to understand the difference between a traffic problem and a conversion problem. Then, this article will help you work out which one your business has.

 If you need to improve your website, my Pimp My Website Course, the Write Your Site Course for eCommerce or Services, or the Set Up Shop course, are all resources designed to help you with that.

Then, of course, there's my signature program Flight Club, which includes training and coaching. 

But, don't be tempted to send traffic to your website until you know your website is actually converting customers. Trust me - it leads to a lot of lost money and tears!

Install Your Advertising Pixel -

As I mentioned above, this is an essential resource for remarketing to people who have visited your website, and helping the ad platform know if your ads are working or not.

Even if you don’t plan to start paid advertising for a while, I recommend connecting the pixel now so it can begin gathering data. Because in most cases you can remarket to your website visitors for up to 180 days after they visit your website!

Have A Strategy -

Like any marketing strategy, paid advertising is only going to work if you have a strategy in place. Work out what your objective is with each ad and how you can support it with the rest of your marketing material.

Make sure you've planned out a strategic Customer Pathway, so that you can ensure your ads will be helping you achieve maximum profit.

Know Your Numbers -

It's tempting to avoid doing this one especially, but you shouldn't run ads unless you understand how to know if they're successful or not.

This means understanding the right numbers to track, and making sure you're really clear on your budget of how much you can spend, to get each new customer. 

Not sure how much you can afford to spend to get a new customer and still be profitable?

Introducing my Profit Formula Course:

This will help you ensure your business is financially ready to scale with ads (because there's nothing worth than growing your sales but realising your not actually growing your profits!) in 5 steps...

Final tips for creating effective digital advertising:

The thing to remember when you are creating any kind of digital content is that people hate being sold to. 

You know when you walk into a store and the shop assistants start circling you like a shark?

It makes you feel pretty uncomfortable, right?

You know they are trying to make a sale. And sometimes, their eagerness to help can come off as pushiness. Or even worse, as the stereotypical smarmy used car salesman.

In those circumstances, I would usually leave the store. I want to be in control of what purchase I make and when I do it. I don’t want to feel pressured into something I might regret later. 

That is exactly what your audience will be thinking when they are browsing online. If the message is too pushy and salesly, they are simply going to click away.

Even though the whole objective of advertising is to gain leads or a sale, that shouldn’t be how it presents to your viewers. Instead, think about what your audience will want to see and what might grab their attention.

Your ads should be relevant, engaging, interesting, and helpful. They in themselves should be a piece of content. The best ads are where people don’t realise they are being sold to.  This is because the business has used effective content marketing to create content that the consumer is really interested in.

If you are ready to dive in and try your hand at paid online advertising, then our Facebook Ads Success Course and our Google Shopping Project are affordable step by step resources, to help.

About the author:

Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.

Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).

If you’d like individualised help with growing your business, check out our services.


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