What is Digital Advertising? A Comprehensive Guide

We’re long past the days when purchasing an ad on TV or the radio was enough to improve your sales significantly.

Digital advertising has become the most important channel for marketers and businesses around the world for a good reason—more and more people are going online to make purchasing decisions.

Today, 40% of the world’s population is connected to the internet, so advertising your brand online delivers the widest reach with the least amount of resources spent.

Brands all over the world are turning to digital channels, with total digital ad spending expected to hit over $333 billion, or roughly half of the worldwide ad market.

No matter the size of your business, you should always aim to spend your resources where they’re likely to generate the biggest returns, such as commercial video maker. Before diving into the market, learn the basics of digital advertising to start developing your own productive strategy.

What is Digital Advertising?

At its most basic, digital advertising is any form of advertisement that appears online, whether on your web browser, your social media apps, or other destinations and properties across the internet.

Today, digital advertising takes multiple forms and uses various channels including social media, video streaming sites like YouTube, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads you see at the top of search results, and more.

Most digital advertising is paid—when you place an ad on someone else’s website, or even on Facebook, you’re paying for it to be viewed.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Advertising?

Before investing in digital advertising, take a look at these statistics to see exactly why you should make it a priority:

  • According to Google, there were 3.5 billion searches per day in 2018, or a total of 1.2 trillion searches for the entire year.
  • 92% of searchers will choose a business on the first page of their search.
  • 64% of online shoppers say a social media video helped inform their purchase decision.
  • Social media user rates have continued to rise, with total users expanding by 13% from 2017 to 2018.
  • In 2018, digital ad revenues surpassed $100 billion for the first time.

The 5 Most Effective Digital Advertising Channels:

Digital advertising is often used as a catch-all term to cover several different types of online marketing strategies. These are some of the most commonly used:

  1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC). This is one of the most widely used channels for marketers, and it involves placing display or banner ads across different platforms and paying for every click received. PPC accounted for $10.1 billion in ad spending during 2017 alone, with more than 7 million advertisers displaying ads.
  2. Social Media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are excellent tools to reach targeted and interested audiences. Advertising on social media can be paid or organic and can range from sponsored posts on users’ feeds to viral campaigns, online reviews, and various content placed on your page at no cost.
  3. Video. Video is quickly emerging as one of the most popular digital advertising strategies considering more people prefer it to written and photographic content. Video advertising includes traditional ads, but can also entail Q&As, small and engaging branded videos made with tools like VideoBoost, tutorials, and other “soft-sell” types.
  4. Search Engine. One of the first things consumers do when researching a product is a basic Google search. Search engine advertising helps position companies to be noticed quicker. Paid search advertising will place ads at the top of results, but organic methods like search engine optimization (SEO) help your website place higher in search results.
  5. Display ads. Display or banner ads are generally static images or graphics that feature your branding and a quick call to action. These ads are usually placed on other websites and are used to generate new leads and expand your exposure.

It’s worth keeping in mind that your strategy for digital advertising should usually be a mix of these channels, and none of them is mutually exclusive.

Videos are increasingly popular because they can be distributed on their own (on YouTube or Vimeo), embedded in your website and blogs, or even used for social media posts.

How to Choose the Right Digital Advertising:

It can be confusing to find the right balance of digital advertising channels, but it’s possible with a little foresight. Instead of trying to do everything at once, ask yourself these questions to focus your strategy:

  • Where are your audience’s online destinations? Even with social media, different demographics might prefer different platforms. Understanding how your target audience behaves on the web will help you hone your strategies to achieve the best possible results.
  • How cost-effective is this channel? Different forms of digital advertising will exhibit diverse results. Depending on your budget, tools like PPC or paid search advertising may not be viable. However, social media and advertising don’t have to cost you anything. By using tools like our video maker, you can create short, engaging branded videos that you can deploy across different media at no extra cost.
  • What ROI is this advertising generating? This is parallel to the previous question, but it’s important, nonetheless. If a certain channel is slightly more expensive, but it delivers a greater return on every dollar you spend, it may be worthwhile to invest a little more in it.

Make Sure Your Message Reaches Your Audience

Digital advertising is increasingly a central part of most marketing strategies, and you shouldn’t be afraid to dive in. Take the time to find the right balance of channels and tactics to begin building a marketing strategy that helps your brand shine online.

What Makes A Good Digital Advertisement? 

Although some people may think that creating advertisements and marketing materials is an easy job, the fact is that the best digital ads have a ton of forethought put behind them before they’re ever allowed to see the light of day. 

Below, we’ll go over 3 of the most important elements that help make good, effective ads.

Catchy Headlines

Because you want people to see your ads, it’s important to try and grab their attention, hooking them in as soon as possible by using catchy, effective headlines. 

In fact, although most advertisers only spend a few hours writing the copy for their ads, the best advertisers spend weeks, sometimes even months, trying to come up with the catchiest, most compelling headlines. 

In fact, according to Moz.com, almost 80% of the readers that might see your digital ads probably won’t make it any further than the headline. Therefore, if your headlines aren’t compelling enough to make your readers want to learn more about you and your business, you’re going to have a lot of trouble running a successful digital ad campaign.  

High-Definition Visuals

Aside from having a catchy headline, another extremely important element to consider when creating effective advertisements is to include flashy, high-resolution images to go along with your ad copy. 

One report from Hubspot noted that including a photograph with a Facebook post alone was able to provide an engagement boost of roughly 37%. This is because images and visuals are typically the first things a person looks at before, even before he or she decides whether or not to read the headline and copy. 

In fact, advertisers will often create ads that are mainly just an image with a small amount of text. With that being said, your images must always be relevant, and complementary to your headlines and ad copy. 

Compelling Copy

Finally, in addition to having a catchy headline and powerful imagery, a good digital advertisement should also include compelling ad copy that includes a call-to-action. 

Ad copy should always be creative, without being overly vague. In other words, it always needs to be easy to read, as well as being clear, concise, and relevant. Also, remember to always avoid using slang or jargon in your ad copy. 

Remember that even though you want your copy to be relevant, it still needs to appear professional. 

Finally, don’t forget to include a call-to-action or CTA in your ad copy, which clearly tells your readers what you want them to do. 

So, for instance, if you plan on running an ad to drive more traffic to your site, your ad copy should clearly tell the reader to click through to your site. 

Although this might sound pretty basic, it’s amazing how many people make the mistake of not including a CTA with their advertisements. 

3 Digital Advertising Strategies You Can Implement Today

When it comes to digital advertising, it’s not always as easy to capture consumer attention like it once was. In fact, according to a 2015 study performed by Microsoft, the average consumer only has an attention span of about 8 seconds. 

Therefore, if brand advertising materials aren’t able to captivate and engage their audiences quickly, in less than 8-seconds, they’re not likely going to be able to stand out in today’s highly competitive online marketplace. 

But because the main goal behind any advertising strategy is to capture attention ASAP, it’s vital to understand how to use a few simple tips and strategies that will help ensure your digital advertising is as effective as possible. 

Paid Digital Advertising

Although there are many different avenues that brands can use to advertise and market themselves online, today, one of the biggest growing markets for advertising is paid search engine advertising, usually referred to as PPC. 

PPC advertising is available on virtually all major digital platforms, including both search engines and social media websites. PPC stands for “pay per click” advertising. 

Therefore, when a person or organization is running a PPC campaign, essentially, they’ll only pay every time that an internet user clicks through and visits their website. 

When used in conjunction with lead generation tactics and sales funnels, PPC advertising can be an extremely lucrative endeavor for virtually any brand. 

However, in order for any PPC advertising campaign to be effective, marketers and brand managers must have a thorough understanding of their industry, as well as their target market. 

Market Research And Target Audience

Before launching into any type of digital advertising campaign, it’s vital that brands take the time to learn about both their competition, as well as the audience they plan on targeting with their advertising and marketing materials. 

By analyzing their competitors, business owners are able to learn about what others are currently offering in terms of advertising materials. And by better understanding your target audience, you’ll be able to pinpoint ideas that will captivate your audience, and that your competitors aren’t currently offering. 

In turn, performing market research and a thorough analysis of your target audience is crucial for any digital advertising strategy to succeed. 

By doing so, you’ll be able to plan a digital strategy that not only promotes your products or services but also one that is sure to resonate well with your audience, increasing the likelihood of a positive return on any of your digital advertising investments. 

Relevance Is Always Key

Finally, no matter what type of industry you’re a part of, it’s vital that you keep your brand as fresh and as relevant as it possibly can be. And this goes doubly for brands that are hoping to grow significantly via modern digital advertising techniques. 

So, when it comes to planning and creating advertising materials for a brand, they need to ensure that the message they’re putting across is relevant and is specifically going to offer value to the audience. 

Think about it this way, if you’re trying to advertise for a clothing brand that sells t-shirt, you wouldn’t be creating advertising materials that contained information about pants or shorts, would you? 

The same goes for any digital advertising strategy. 

Therefore a digital strategy is always going to be highly-targeted and highly-relevant if there’s any hope for it to be a success. 

3 Highly Effective Examples Of Memorable Digital Advertisements

Lastly, good digital advertisements also must include one other element that helps make them successful; they need to resonate and connect well with their audiences on a basic, emotional level. 

So, to help you get a better idea of what works when it comes to digital ads, let’s take a look at 3 examples that you can use as inspiration for your next ad campaign.

Under Armor

A few years ago, the apparel company Under Armor launched an extremely effective digital advertising campaign that was titled “I Will What I Want”. 

The campaign was mainly targeted at women, therefore, the ads displayed women what had accomplished a major goal through hard work and perseverance, of course, while wearing Under Armor clothing. 

The connection with the brand is the fact that when worn, Under Armor clothing helps make it easier to accomplish hard, physical work. 

However, the reason the ads were so successful is that they elicit an emotional reaction in the people who view them. In turn, this makes it more likely that those viewers will think of Under Armor when they think of accomplishing their own goals. 

Volkswagon’s New Golf

Successful ads also need to be engaging and interactive whenever possible, which is exactly what Volkswagon did when it launched its digital ad campaign promoting its new Golf model back in 2017. 

When displayed, the ad invited the viewer to click on it and to adjust a small puzzle consisting of 21 small tiles to “build a roadway” for the Golf to travel from one end to the other. But to make things more fun, and a bit more challenging, users only had 30 seconds to complete the puzzle. 

One thing that stands out about this type of highly interactive ad is that it doesn’t even really explain anything about the car itself. 

Instead, it draws the user in and keeps them engaged, making it more likely that they’ll click through and learn more about the Golf once the puzzle game has been completed


Wes Anderson is a famous film director and writer, known for his use of quirky humor, memorable characters and place settings. And this is exactly what the clothing brand H&M was thinking about when they hired Anderson to create a short video ad for an upcoming launch around Christmas time of that year.

On top of using Anderson’s trademark style, the video ad also featured the popular actor Adrian Brody and showed a variety of people traveling on a train to visit their families for the holidays. 

Like Volkswagon, one thing that sets this ad apart is that it doesn’t focus very much on the product or brand itself. 

And instead, the ad is more reminiscent of a story, which, along with its unique, Wes Anderson-esque styling, makes the video elicit an emotional response, and in turn, makes it more memorable to anyone who watches it. 

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