Types of Online Advertising: All You Need to Know

a beginners guide to the types of online advertising
  • 9 Minutes to read

Table of Content

  1. What is Online Advertising?
  2. Why Use Online Advertising?
  3. Types of Online Advertising
  4. Conclusion
  5. FAQs on Types of Online Advertising

Let’s say you are hosting an event to promote your business with exciting deals. But your business is on the come up, so not too many people know about it. So how do you get the target audience to join the event and make it a big success? Well, that’s where online advertising comes in. It’s like a big, colorful sign to attract the traffic to your event.

Online advertising is a broad-spectrum term with a vast array of tools and tactics. From social media posts to search engine results, you can use online advertising to target potential customers exactly where they spend their time online. That helps connect with the relevant audience, boost brand awareness, and ultimately drive up the sales.

So in this blog, I’ll tell you all about the types of online advertising and how the top digital marketing companies implement them.

What is Online Advertising?

Online advertising, also known as digital advertising, is the process of promoting brands, products, and services using the internet. It encompasses a wide range of tools and techniques, from the familiar social media ads and search engine results to email marketing and banner ads on websites.

The key advantage of online advertising is its ability to target specific demographics and interests. Unlike traditional advertising methods that might cast a wide net, online ads can be tailored to people most likely to be interested in your offerings. With this targeted approach, you can be more efficient with your marketing budget and connect with a more relevant audience.

There are several other reasons why the top digital marketing agencies implement online advertising. We’ll cover them in the next section.

Why Use Online Advertising?

Of course, the aim behind any sort of advertising is to promote something. But if promotion is your aim, traditional  advertising can do the job. Why online advertising? Well, there are several compelling reasons behind that. Let’s look at some of the key ones.

  • Targeted Reach: Unlike traditional advertising with broad reach, online ads allow you to laser focus on your ideal customer. You can target demographics like age, location, and interests, ensuring your message reaches the most receptive audience.
  • Measurable Results: The beauty of online advertising lies in its measurability. You can track clicks, impressions, conversions, and other valuable metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns and optimize them for better results. Traditional advertising methods often lack this level of detailed data.
  • Global Reach: The internet breaks down geographical barriers. With online advertising, your business can transcend physical limitations and reach a global audience, opening doors to new markets and potential customers.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to traditional advertising methods, online advertising can be quite cost-effective. You can set budgets and choose advertising models that fit your needs, allowing you to maximize your return on investment (ROI).
  • Engaging Formats: Online advertising offers a variety of engaging formats like video ads, interactive banners, and social media posts. These formats can capture user attention and create a more immersive brand experience.
  • Increased Brand Awareness: Even if users don’t click on your ad initially, seeing it repeatedly can increase brand awareness and familiarity with your business. This can lead to future conversions down the line.
  • Competitiveness: In today’s digital world, having an online presence is crucial. Online advertising equips you with the tools to compete effectively and ensure your brand stays visible in the digital marketplace.

Overall, online advertising offers a powerful and versatile toolbox for businesses of all sizes. It lets you connect with the targeted audience and achieve your marketing goals in a cost-effective manner.

Types of Online Advertising

There are many different types of online advertising, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The best way to approach online advertising is to understand the different options available and choose the ones that best suit your target audience and marketing goals.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common types of online advertising:

Display Advertising

What is it?

Display advertising involves placing visually appealing ad formats like banner ads, image ads, rich media ads, and native advertising on websites and other online properties. Banner ads are typically rectangular boxes containing text, images, or a combination of both. Image ads are similar to banner ads but focus primarily on visuals.

Rich media ads are more interactive and can include features like animation, audio, and video. Native advertising is a subtler form of display advertising that is designed to blend in with the surrounding content on a website or app.

How Does It Work?

Display ads can be purchased directly on individual websites or through ad networks that reach a large number of websites. Ad networks aggregate ad inventory from a multitude of websites, allowing you to reach a vast audience with a single campaign. They also offer sophisticated targeting options to make sure the users most interested in your offerings see your ads.

For a display ad campaign, you can target your ads based on demographics, interests, browsing behavior, and even purchase history. And, you can choose where your ads are displayed by selecting specific websites or categories within the ad network.

Benefits of Display Advertising

  • Brand awareness: Builds recognition through repeated exposure across various websites and apps.
  • Broad audience reach: Expands your reach beyond your own website or platform, attracting new customers.
  • Retargeting: Reconnects with users who have already shown interest in your product or service, keeping your brand top-of-mind.
  • Visual storytelling: Utilizes visuals to capture attention and create a more engaging brand experience.

Display advertising can be a great way to increase brand awareness and reach a broad audience. It can also be used to retarget website visitors who have shown interest in your product or service.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

What is It?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a form of online marketing. It involves promoting websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through paid advertising.

SEM primarily revolves around paid search advertising, commonly known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Advertisers bid on keywords that users might enter into search engines like Google or Bing when looking for certain products or services. SEM also encompasses other forms of paid search advertising such as display advertising, remarketing, and shopping ads.

How Does It Work?

With SEA, you bid on keywords that people are likely to search for when looking for products or services similar to yours. The search engine considers various factors when determining which ad to display for a particular search query. The popular ones include your bid amount, the quality and relevance of your ad copy, and your landing page’s relevance to the search term.

When someone searches for one of your keywords, your ad appears at the top of the SERP, typically above the organic search results. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, hence the term “pay-per-click”. So you focus your advertising budget on reaching the interested users, more likely to convert into customers.

Benefits of Search Engine marketing

  • Reach users with high purchase intent: Targets users actively searching for products or services like yours, maximizing the chance of conversions.
  • Drive targeted website traffic: Increases qualified traffic to your website, bringing potential customers closer to making a purchase.
  • Improve brand awareness: Increases visibility in search results, leading to greater brand recognition for relevant searches.
  • Measurable results: Provides detailed analytics on clicks, conversions, and other key metrics, allowing you to track campaign performance and optimize for better results.

The top PPC marketing companies can help you reach people who are already interested in what you have to offer. It can also help you to improve your brand awareness and website traffic.

Social Media Advertising

What is It?

Social media advertising lets you target your ads to a particular audience on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. With this tactic, you can leverage detailed user profiles and browsing behavior. That helps you create targeted campaigns that resonate with specific demographics, interests, and even purchase history.

This granular targeting ensures your message reaches the most receptive users. It increases the likelihood of conversions and positive brand interactions.

How Does It Work?

You can create social media ads using a variety of formats including text, images, videos, and carousel ads.

Text ads are concise and attention-grabbing, ideal for quick messages or highlighting promotions. Image ads allow you to showcase your products or services visually. And the video ads can be even more engaging by telling a story or demonstrating product features.

Carousel ads display multiple images or videos within a single ad. So you have more space to showcase your product or service and capture user interest.

Benefits of Social Media Advertising

  • Highly targeted reach: Connects you with a specific audience based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and even connections on the platform, ensuring your message reaches the right people.
  • Increased brand awareness: Builds brand recognition and engagement on social media platforms, fostering a community around your brand.
  • Drives website traffic and conversions: Encourages clicks to your website or landing page, generating leads and sales.
  • Cost-effective: Can be a cost-effective way to reach a large audience compared to traditional advertising methods.
  • Social proof: Positive social media engagement with your ads (likes, comments, shares) builds trust and credibility.

You can choose from the top social media marketing agencies to reach a large audience and build brand awareness. It can also be used to drive traffic to your website or landing page, and to generate leads and sales.

Interactive Ads

What is It?

 Interactive ads are a more engaging form of online advertising that goes beyond static visuals and text. They incorporate features that users can interact with, transforming the ad from a one-way broadcast to a two-way conversation. Some of the best examples of interactive ads formats include polls and quizzes, expandable, gamified ads, etc.

Polls and quizzes let users participate in a quick poll or answer a trivia question related to your product or service. This not only captures attention but also gathers valuable user data and insights.

Gamified ads incorporate game mechanics like points, badges, or leaderboards to encourage user participation. This can be a fun way to promote brand awareness, introduce new products, or drive engagement with your social media channels.

How Does It Work?

The format and interaction options vary depending on the ad type. Some interactive ads may require users to click on the ad unit itself, while others may use hover effects or employ attention-grabbing animations to trigger interactions.

Users might be prompted to answer questions, complete short polls, or even participate in brief minigames directly within the ad. This interactivity can significantly enhance the ad experience, transforming it from a passive view to an active engagement.

Benefits of Interactive Ads

  • Higher engagement rates: Captures user attention and encourages interaction with the ad, leading to a more memorable brand experience.
  • Improved brand recall: Interactive elements create a more engaging experience, making the ad more likely to be remembered by users.
  • Valuable user data collection: Insights from user interactions with the ad (clicks, answers to polls, game participation) can inform future campaigns and content creation, allowing you to better tailor your marketing efforts.
  • Increased brand favorability: Interactive ads can be perceived as more fun and engaging, leading to a more positive brand perception.

Interactive ads can be a great way to get potential customers hooked to your brand through a game. They may translate from interested users to definite conversions.

Targeted Ad Placements

What is It?

Targeted ad placements involve strategically positioning your ads on websites or apps frequented by your target audience. This can encompass a display ad, native advertising, or video ad, allowing you to tailor the format to the specific platform and user behavior.

For instance, eye-catching display ads might be a good fit for high-traffic websites. On the other hand, native advertising can blend seamlessly with the content on a news website or blog. Video ads can be particularly engaging on platforms like YouTube or within video game apps.

How Does It Work?

You can leverage various avenues to secure targeted ad placements. Negotiating directly with website owners gives you more control over the placement and creative format. However, this approach can be time-consuming, especially if you’re looking to reach a broad audience across multiple websites.

Ad networks, on the other hand, offer a more streamlined solution. They aggregate ad inventory from a vast number of websites and apps, so you can target your ads to specific demographics, interests, and online behavior. By utilizing ad networks, you can efficiently reach a large audience on relevant platforms without having to negotiate placements individually.

Benefits of Targeted Ads

  • Increased relevance: Reaches users most likely interested in your product or service by appearing on websites and apps they frequent.
  • Improved campaign performance: Relevant placements can lead to higher click-through rates (CTRs) and conversions as users are already interested in the content they see alongside your ad.
  • Brand association: Builds brand awareness by appearing alongside relevant content, establishing your brand as a thought leader or authority in your industry.
  • Cost-efficiency: By focusing on targeted placements, you can potentially reduce wasted ad spend by reaching a more qualified audience.

When you hire a digital marketing agency, they come up with a strategy tailored to your specific goals and target audience. And the top-rated digital marketing agencies combine these types of online advertising to create a well-rounded campaign for your brand or business.


Online advertising, a fundamental aspect of digital marketing, encompasses various strategies and techniques used by businesses to promote their products or services on the internet. It plays a crucial role in digital marketing due to its ability to drive targeted traffic, enhance brand visibility, and measure ad performance effectively.

There are several types of online advertising, and the most common ones are:

  • Display Ads
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Interactive Ads
  • Targeted Ads

So, do you want to leverage the powers of online advertising for your business enterprise? Then consider our recommendations on the best agencies that can help you out.

FAQs on Types of Online Advertising

1. What are search engine ads?

Search engine ads are text-based ads that appear on search engine results pages, usually at the top or bottom of the page. They target specific keywords and are a popular form of online advertising.

2. Social media is huge, so how can I leverage it for advertising?

Social media advertising lets you create targeted ads displayed on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. These ads can be anything from eye-catching images to engaging videos. The best part? You can target them to a very specific audience based on demographics, interests, and even their online behavior.

So you can connect with a highly relevant audience, build brand awareness, and drive traffic to your website or landing page.

3. How can I make online ads more engaging than just pictures and text?

Try interactive ads! These ads go beyond static visuals by incorporating features users can interact with, like polls, quizzes, or even mini-games. This can grab attention, make the ad experience more memorable, and even collect valuable data about your audience.

a beginners guide to the types of online advertising
Neil Jordan
Hey! I'm Neil Jordan, a technical consultant with extensive experience in web development, design, and technical solution management. My research focuses on web development and various technologies. I have a diverse background in providing various IT service consulting.

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