As a small business, your aim after inception is to promote your business and offerings online in order to etch your brand in the minds of your target audience. With time, the next step would be to engage in digital marketing efforts that aim to inform audiences about the offered products and ways to make a purchase. There are various free (organic) and paid ways to achieve this objective, however, you will need to take a call on the methods of online advertising that can help drive your sales. The increased need for online advertisements is anticipated to attract a digital ad spend of over $375 billion by the year 2021.

Why engage in paid online advertising?

There are numerous benefits for startups and small businesses to engage in campaigns that include paid ads, here are a few evident ones –

  • Laser-focused targeting: With online paid ads, you can precisely target your potential targets who are ready to make a purchase ‘now’. You can make your ad visible to prospects of specific demographics based on your market- product alignment.
  • Pay for clicked/watched ads only: In past conventional advertising methods, you would have had to pay a lump sum of money to run ads irrespective of the reach it can gain. However, with online paid ads you can pay for watched/clicked ads.
  • Easy retargeting: Online ads make it possible for you to add prospects who have viewed your ads and not made a purchase to your retargeting list. You can now display an ad with more details/insights that will persuade them to take the desired action i.e. purchase your product. You increase the number of touchpoints whereby your prospects may be reminded of their past purchase consideration which they may otherwise have forgotten.
  • Measure online ad’s performance: Unlike other marketing efforts, digital marketing allows you to see how your ad is faring. You can analyze the metrics that your ad campaign generates and gain insights into the areas your ad is falling short.
  • Better ad performance: The insights you gain by measuring the performance of your online ads can serve as input to tweak and adjust your advertisement strategy so as to derive maximum results from the campaign.
  • Establish brand image: If you want to share just a part of product details to a certain segment of your audience, you can do so thereby establish the brand image that you desire.
  • Great visibility: Paid ads get you a spot at the top of search pages immediately thereby gaining you the visibility needed to improve traffic and CTR.
  • No wait time: Unlike organic methods of advertising, paid ads do not require you to wait for weeks or even months to see results. All it takes is for you to make the payment. With that’s done, your ad will be placed at the top of the search results page.

When to choose paid advertising over organic advertising?

Organic advertising is known to boost your online authority without you having to spend a dime. However, there will come a time when just organic ads seem to stagnate in terms of getting you the reach you desire. When such time of saturation has reached, it is best for you to try out a paid ads campaign that best suits you.

Although there is no battle between the two as far as online marketing goes, it is considered best to use a combination of both to savor the best of both options.

2. Display ads:

Display ads are used to reach and attract prospects by using a combination of text and image (static or dynamic). These ads are carried by websites and can be used to generate brand awareness and retargeting your customer base. Using this type of paid ad increasing the number of touchpoints with your prospects resulting in quicker brand recall.

It has been recorded that display ads have the proven potential to increase website traffic by 300% if done rightly. To gain similar digital momentum for your business, you can consider using display ads with the following tips in mind –

  • In addition to following the tips listed under paid search ads, you will have to get your ad copy approved by Google. This can be done by following the ad image requirements Google has preset for this purpose.
  • The next thing to do is identify the sites on which you want your display ad to be placed and increase the bid for that particular site to gain an advantage over competing bidders.

Casumo, a mobile gaming company, leverage a dynamic online display ad with an animated character that had garnered good popularity and brand association. This online ad used the animated character as a bait to get viewers to click-through the CTA.

3. Social ads:

In order to use social media as a platform for marketing campaigns, you will first have to identify the platforms your prospects are present/active on. A miss in rightly identifying the platform will result in the failure of the entire campaign. Comprehensive research must be conducted to zero-in on the platform that records frequent visits from your prospects.

Why social ads are gaining popularity?

Paid and organic social ads are known for local, national, and international reach which is limited or absent in any other kind of marketing campaign. Apart from audience reach, social ads are known to work well for any business regardless of the size of operation and line of work. Owing to these reasons, 72% of B2B marketers use social media platforms to run paid ads campaigns.

Although there are several social media platforms to choose from, small businesses prefer one or more of the following to run ad campaigns-


To make the most of the reach that social media platforms offer, you can run your paid ad campaigns on such platforms keeping the following tips in mind –

a. Create native ads that will go well with the platform you choose.

b. Make the most of the advanced laser-focused targeting options that social platforms offer.

Native ads:
It is important for you to assess and study the platform in which you intend to put up your ads. Based on the assessment, you will have to create ads that suit the platform’s vibe and setting. For instance, the ad that you see on Instagram tend to look totally different from those that appear on YouTube. Native ads are the reason for the difference in their appearance.

Ad on YouTube:

Ad on Instagram:

Ad on Facebook:

One great example of a social media advertising campaign was by Moon Pie, an online bakery and general store. The brand came up with a campaign – #MoonPieToTheMoon2024, to link itself to the Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary which was being discussed and celebrated vastly. With this campaign, the brand launched a campaign that gained it the attention it desired. Additionally, the campaign thus launched would stay relevant not just now but up to 2024.

Google shopping ads:

These ads are typically seen in a carousel format at the top or side of the Google search results. The paid shopping ads allow prospects to see similar products that they can choose from.

A study revealed that 31% of respondents were willing to click on shopping ads as they provide a ‘window shopping’ feel to the viewers. In order to get your Google shopping ads up on search pages, you will first have to

  • Create a Google Ads account
  • Now, set the campaign type to be shopping
  • Fill in the required details including campaign name, country you want to sell in, bid amount, inventory filter, daily budget, device selection, and location.

With this done, your ad is ready to go up on the SERPs. When a visitor enters a search query that involves an online purchase, relevant shopping ads will appear. Your prospects will be able to see the picture of your product, price, and shipping rates with a quick glance thereby making prospect decision making easy.

You can find numerous online stores who choose to advertise their product with this type of paid ads. Some of the stores include Amazon, Flipkart, Mamaearth, and Motherly.

5. Inbox ads:

Gmail accounts now see a section at the top of the inbox dedicated to sponsored ads. You can use these inbox ads to introduce your products to your prospect or just use this method to retarget the prospects who have not completed the buy action.

This is considered to be one of the best among the different types of ads as it takes into account the prospects’ search history, cookies, and inbox content, to ensure that only interested prospects get ads placed in their inbox.

If you want to gain the ability to reach your prospects’ inbox you will have to follow the steps listed below –

  • To run an inbox ads campaign, you will require a Google Ads account.
  • Select your campaign type to display ads.
  • Thereafter, fill in the required details to kickstart your ads campaign.

Once done, your ads will appear in the inbox of your prospects if their search query, history, and your product keywords are in alignment. Inbox ads also follow the pay-per-click format which means that you will be paying for only those ads which garner a click (i.e. if they are opened).

Questions small business owners ask about ad campaigns

1. Which paid online ads are trending among small businesses in 2020?
Currently, two paid online advertising methods are being used extensively, viz.; Google ads and Facebook ads.

Google ads vs Facebook ads:
Small businesses often find it complicated to decide whether they should use Google ads or Facebook ads. If you face similar indecisiveness towards your ad campaign choice, the points listed below will help clear the confusion:

Google ads: Run a Google ads campaign if you want to sell your product directly provided it aligns with the search query entered.

Facebook ads: Opt for a FB ads campaign if your main intent is to create brand awareness and increase in touchpoints to promote brand recall.

The best option, however, would be to use a paid online advertising strategy that integrates both FB ads as well as Google ads to gain the best of both methods. You do not have to pick between conversions or awareness if you can plan and use both in your business’ favor.

2. Can we run paid online advertising campaigns ourselves or should we hire a professional?

You certainly can choose a campaign that suits your business need and create/run a campaign by training yourself in the area. Running ad campaigns requires much dedication, tracking, and follow-up in order to generate the impact that you desire. It also requires you to set up accounts such as Google ad account and Facebook ad manager, in addition to using other tools that can help you measure and track your ad’s performance. These tasks can seem to be daunting initially but with time, you can manage these campaigns with ease.

Hire a professional:
However, if you lack the bandwidth in terms of time and know-how, then it is best to hire a professional to create and run ad campaigns for you. By choosing to do so, you can power your ads with the experience and knowledge that the online advertising agency brings to the table. The agency will keep your campaigns abreast in the marketplace by applying the latest technology and methods gaining you a favorable advantage.

3. What groundwork needs to be done before creating an ad campaign?

There is a comprehensive range of foundation work you need to complete before you start planning and executing your ads campaign. Here are 4 such broad points that you need to keep in mind –

  • Identify your target audience.
  • Create a compelling ad that will appeal to the audience identified.
  • Run the ad campaign on platforms where your target audience is present/visits frequently.
  • Create a landing page that has a high potential to convert the prospects who click-through.
Final thoughts:
The current digital landscape offers you plenty of options to choose from especially when it comes to paid internet advertising. However, before you select an ad type that works well for your business, it is best to consult a professional who has experience in internet advertising. A miss is identifying the right campaign for your business will not just cost you the ad spend but will also affect you adversely by making you lose viable business opportunities. Hence, you should derive all the benefits that paid to advertise has to offer by partnering with a professional.