Online Ads – Different Types, Visual Examples, What They’re Good For

Posted by Gary
on 02/22/16

One of the core strategies of a comprehensive internet marketing plan is the use of a paid advertising. That much is pretty clear but it starts to get a little confusing with all the buzzwords being thrown around like PPC, AdWords, remarketing, social ads, etc. We’re going to break down some of the most common types of paid online ads, their definitions, and how they work.

A quick overview of how you’re charged for an ad.

Just like the large of amount of different types of online ads there is also a lot of different ways you can choose to be charged for them. The three biggest choices usually fall under:

Pay per click ads.

When you are running a PPC ad you are only charged when someone actually clicks on your ad. Your ad could be shown to 10,000 people but if only one person clicks on it you’ll only be charged once.

Pay per ad impression.

This is a bit of a shotgun approach. You would set a flat budget and the online ads platforms will display your ad as many times as your budget allows based on the cost of the placement (regardless of if anyone interacts with it).

Pay per view ads.

Very similar to pay per impression except this deals with video ads specifically. You set a budget and your ads are displayed until there have been enough views to deplete your budget. What counts as a “view” can vary greatly with each ad platform.

What defines the cost of an ad?

Paid online ads is a pretty big rabbit hole of dozens of factors that can influence the cost of an ad that’s beyond the scope of this article. To get you started there’s two main types to get familiar with.

Bidding for ad placement.

This basically is just what it sounds like, whoever is willing to pay more gets placed in a higher ad slot for that chosen keyword. You’re bidding against anyone who wants to display their ad so the wire to walk is to balance being in the top three but not having to pay an astronomical amount for the privilege.

Flat fee online ads.

This doesn’t require too much explanation, an ad platform has a price and exact plan of what they do with your ad.

There’s a lot of tactics and strategies for online ads you can implement to stretch your budget. From targeting long tail keywords, keywords that are further along in the purchase funnel, or optimizing your PPC campaign for the number two sweet spot. We’ll break these actual tactics and strategies and how to achieve them shortly.

Types of online ads and what they are

Search Ads

This is one of the most common types of online ads out there. These show up when you use a search engine like Google or Bing. Google and Bing both have their own system for displaying ads called Google AdWords and Bing Ads, respectively. Search ads are text only and can be displayed at the top, side, or bottom of search results. They will also have the text “Ad” somewhere nearby. While competition can be fierce depending on your industry and keywords search ads are the workhorse of paid advertising in terms of directing people to your site.



google search online adsBing search ads

Banner Ads

Online banner ads are image based ads that are displayed on a website. You’re likely familiar with them as they generally are seen on news websites, blogs, and the like. Typically you pay a set amount for a length of time or a percentage to the website’s owner based on clicks.

Display ads

These ads aren’t shown in search results but on other websites, such as Google’s “display network” which are a group of tens of thousands of sites that agree to serve Google’s display ads. Display and banner ads are usually very cheap and because they’re visual they’re great for branding campaigns.

display ads

Remarketing/Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads (also called remarketing ads by Google and only shown on their “display network”) work by following a user around to different sites. Websites will partner with online ads platforms to allow remarketing ads to be displayed. Without getting too technical once a user visits a site with a remarketing or retargeting campaign the advertiser’s site stores a cookie in their browser that then will display an online ad for that advertiser (provided the next site they’re on is in the remarketing or retargeting network). These boast a higher click through and conversion rate than most other internet ad types.

retargeting ads

Social Ads

Just what they sound like, social online ads are offered by the many different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, etc. The types of ads and their cost structures are all different with each social channel. Social media ads have a smaller audience but can be very targeted, for example you could choose to show an ad only to people who have liked your Facebook page to offer a special service or discount.

facebook ad


twitter ad

Video/Youtube Ads

A video ad is obviously an ad that’s a video. One of the biggest platforms to use videos ads on is YouTube. YouTube provides a number of different targeting options and placements. Videos are still a niche ad for many small businesses. They’re unsurpassed if you have a product or service that can demonstrated visually.

youtube ads example

Mobile Optimized Ads

Mobile ads are specifically created and targeted for smartphones and tablets. They generally look similar to search and display ads although with space at a premium. With mobile searches and purchases overtaking traditional desktop searches this is definitely not an advertising channel to ignore.

mobile ad on phone

AdMob (Mobile App) Ads

AdMob is Google’s mobile advertising platform and with it you can display ads within apps themselves on smartphones and tablets. Many app developers offer these ad placements as a way to monetize their app. There’s one caveat with this type of advertising. Depending on your ads placement accidental clicks are more likely and add an unnecessary expenditure in your budget.

in app ad

Coming around full circle these types of paid online ads are just the most common and commonly most effective. Hopefully this helps clarify what is out there and if not, feel free to shoot us an email!

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