A Beginner’s Introduction to Online Advertising

At JAM, we talk A LOT about organic marketing – the kind that you don’t have to pay for – because it works, not just for right now, but for years to come.

Organic marketing provides this unique little opportunity to build relationships with your potential clients that paid marketing doesn’t.

But, let’s be honest. When we’re talking about creating a marketing strategy, online advertising will inevitably make its way into the conversation.

Every business owner wonders, “Would running a Facebook ad get me farther faster right now?

Or, “Maybe Google ads are the way to go. You only pay when someone clicks, so that can’t be all that bad, right?

And the super common, “This ad rep called and emailed me the other day about an opportunity to advertise on their site. They’re pretty convincing. But should I do it? What if it’s a waste of money?

In this article, I’ll lay the foundation of what online advertising provides us as small business owners and the basic types you need to know about in order to make an educated decision on whether you should utilize them or not.

First, understand that online advertising is usually part of the KNOW phase of the know-like-trust process of marketing. It’s usually the very first “touch” in the buyer’s journey.

So if your business’s number one priority is to get ideal customers INTO an optimized sales funnel, online advertising may deserve a serious look from you.

Now, a lot of business owners wonder what their options are for online advertising and the phrase may conjure up images of banner ads slicing through content. While banner ads are certainly still used (and in not such an obnoxious way as in the past), there are lots of different options for business owners to pursue when it comes to online advertising.

A Beginner's Introduction to Online Advertising by Brit Kolo of JAM Marketing Group, online marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs

While there are many, many variations of online advertising, the main three types are:

  •         Display ads
  •         Social Media ads
  •         Search Engine Marketing (SEM)



Display ads are the original form of advertising, even before the internet was a thing. Think billboards and sandwich boards.

Today, display ads most often reference online advertising on third party websites. They are visual and almost always relate to the content of the website where the ads appear.

But display ads are more than your traditional banner ads. Other examples of display ads include;

  • static images which appear in the content area,
  • wallpaper ads that appear and change the background of a website and fills the whole page
  • popup ads which do exactly what their name says – pop up in a new window,
  • and video ads which can be auto-played upon opening the website or require the viewer to click play.

Display ads tend to be reasonably affordable and usually are obtained through a third party website. So while your ad may be seen on, say, TinyHouseTalk.com, you actually purchased the ad through a third party ad agency. Many third party sites have the option of targeting audiences based on geographic location, behaviors or demographics allowing your ads to be seen by people most likely to be interested in your product or service.

Here’s an example of display ads in use on Entrepreneur.com; you’ll see a pop-up ad first thing, than an ad above the main content, on the right side bar, and within the content.


Social media ads are similar to display ads, as they can be anything from a static image to a full autoplay video.

The major differences between display and social media ads come into play, though, when it comes to audience targeting and pricing.

Because of social media’s ability to gather insight into every single user’s life through their profiles, friends, and engagement on the platform, it can then allow for hyper-targeting in ads. You not only can select exactly what type of person you want your ad to be shown to, but Facebook will also show your ad to the right people at the right time of day, based on that individual’s typical engagement times. It’s honestly next-level stuff here.

And while these ads are hyper-targeted, there’s also an extremely low barrier to entry. While a display ad might start at a few hundred dollars to run, you can run a social media ad for as low as $5. Now, you might not yield great engagement from that investment, but again, this range of options lends itself to businesses with varying budgets, allowing almost any seller to take advantage of this type of advertising.

Here’s an example of a social media ad on Facebook:

A Beginners Introduction to Online Advertising, JAM marketing Group



Search engine marketing is 100% based on keywords found on a website and is the most common and dependable form of online advertising.

As a website owner, you can bid on keywords through search engines like Google (AdWords) or Yahoo-Bing. Those who bid higher will appear higher up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).  

Paid ads can either be Pay Per Click (PPC ) or Cost Per Thousand (CPM).

PPC is when you bid on keywords. It is often the best value because you only pay when people click on your ad. It is also the easiest to track during and after a campaign.

CPM is billed at a flat rate per 1,000 impressions which makes it easy for those who have to stay on a strict budget. CPM also guarantees the number of shows that your ad will get on SERPs. The negative to CPM is if no one clicks on your ad, you are paying for wasted results.

***NOTE: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) isn’t exactly the same as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is based on keywords found in a website too, but you don’t pay for the search engine to show your website in the results. Search engines like Google and Yahoo-Bing list unpaid results based on relevancy, not investment.

Example of SEM:  

A Beginner's Introduction to Online Advertising, JAM Marketing Group

A Beginner's Introduction to Online Advertising, JAM Marketing Group

Now that we’ve covered the three main types of online advertising, next week we’ll cover our top tips on how to strategize and structure an ad to make it worth your money (and not a total waste)!


One Response to A Beginner’s Introduction to Online Advertising

  1. Daniel

    Nice post! That’s exactly how it’s good to start with online marketing, though I wouldn’t underestimate email marketing. GetResponse is a nice example of an easy to use tool. They also have marketing automation, which is useful later. Social Ads and SEM are a good way when you’re starting out.