Whether you've just created a eCommerce website for a new business or want to promote an existing one, advertising can help you do so. There are many opportunities to reach new audiences, drive sales and achieve brand awareness through traditional and digital types of advertising.
To help you sort through all the advertising methods that exist, we've broken down the most prominent types of advertising. Once you get the lay of the land, you'll be best equipped to choose the best type of advertising method and embark on your journey of growing your business.
What is advertising today?
Advertising is a marketing strategy that businesses use to promote their brand, products and/or services. Each type of advertising will have similar goals—whether turning potential buyers into actual customers, sharing information with new audiences, or building brand awareness—ultimately, advertising helps grow your business.
Marketing vs. advertising
While there are many similarities between marketing vs. advertising (and many use the term interchangeably), advertising is just one part of your marketing strategy. Marketing is a strategic part of building a business that includes all sorts of promotions, including organic and paid advertising, while advertising, no matter what type, means that you’re paying to get exposure to your brand.
As your small business grows, you will need to develop different advertising campaigns to achieve specific business goals and landmarks within your marketing strategy.
Advertising can be broken down into two main categories: traditional advertising and digital.
Traditional advertising refers to types of advertisements typically done offline. Newspaper ads, billboards and radio advertising are all advertisement examples that represent traditional marketing methods. Businesses still use these traditional advertising platforms to sell products or attract people to their brands.
Digital or new media advertising
Technology’s evolution has changed the marketing world—and many businesses do most of their advertising online. From SMS text messages to social media campaigns, digital advertising refers to marketing across online platforms and digital communication channels.
Digital marketing has become an ubiquitous part of online browsing, where almost every daily internet touchpoint offers an advertising opportunity. Small business owners find digital ads especially attractive, as they tend to be more cost effective and often use advanced analytics to measure results. One of the main types is SEM, or search engine marketing.
Digital advertising, according to Statista was expected to reach over US$500 billion in 2021, increasing to an incredible expected US$876 billion by 2026. Proof of how companies the world over have embraced digital advertising as a large part of their advertising strategies.
10 Types of advertising
01. Online search advertising
American adults spend an average of 3.5 hours of their day online. This high amount of internet usage helps explain why more and more businesses are turning to online advertising. After all, the goal of relevant advertising is to get in front of your audience where they spend most of their time.
Additionally, marketers treasure the ability to track the immediate reach and results of their online campaigns. Since many tools and analytics are integrated into digital ads, you can know in real-time where your sales are coming from and make quick optimizations to boost performance.
Due to the strength of this type of advertising, you can use many digital methods to promote yourself online:
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows you to show up in front of your audience in a non-abrupt way while on search engines. In PPC campaigns, you select a series of keywords to bid on so that your ad will be at the top of the search results for words that describe your business or products.
You can even bid on competitor brand names so you can give yourself a chance to be considered as another option. After all, 90% of searchers haven’t made their mind up about a brand before starting their search.
These types of advertisements show up in text format, so make sure to write compelling ad copy since you can’t rely on images to draw users' attention.
Moreover, many advertisers send their paid online traffic to landing pages exclusively dedicated to the promotion in order to increase customer conversion.
Lastly, PPC ads are designed so that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, so it's a great way to learn how to advertise on Google. You can choose how much you are willing to pay for that cost per click (CPC). Therefore, this is an excellent online advertising method for campaigns with defined sales goals, CPL and ROI benchmarks.
Have you ever read an article online and noticed a square or rectangular image appear on the edges of the page or between paragraphs? This type of advertising is known as display banners and is usually composed of rich images or videos that showcase a promoted offering with layered text and a CTA.
Banner ads are charged on a CPM (cost per a thousand impressions) or CPC, depending on the platform you’re running ads on. Since the click-through rate (CTR) isn’t as high on display banners as PPC ads, the former is often used to build brand awareness and help you stay top of mind with your audience.
What differentiates native ads from other types of advertising methods is that, as their name suggests, we often don't notice they are ads. These pieces of advertising are disguised by matching the format and style of the organic content on the page, making them nearly indistinguishable.
Their camouflage ability has made this ad format quite popular. Native ads will account for a whopping 74% of total US display ad revenue by the end of 2021. Marketers love them because they are a sneaky way to get in front of your target audience in a not-so-obvious way. For instance, if you look closely at a content piece that is at the bottom or between articles on sites that serve ads, you’ll notice a small font reading "sponsored stories" or "promoted by."
Since native ads are often live on content publishing platforms or video-based channels like YouTube, they can be a great way to drive traffic to a blog post, a tutorial video or other types of longer-form educational content.
02. Social media advertising
Social media marketing and advertising are unlike most promotion outlets because it allows you to engage with your audience in an authentic way. Not only can you personalize your ads to fit your target audience parameters but also interact with people who’ve engaged with the promotion, it's contextual advertising at its finest.
Besides, the usage of social media is growing by the day. Now, there are several leading platforms to choose to advertise on, depending on your target audience and goals.
By 2021, global social media marketing spend topped US$180 billion. The majority of this was spent on mobile advertising. Total spend is expected. to increase to over US$ 350 billion by 2026.
Known for B2B advertising, LinkedIn lets you tap into their professional database of over 690 million users and reach your audience through Sponsored Content, Sponsored Messaging, text ads and dynamic ads.
What is special about this channel is that people are already in a professional mindset, making them more likely to be open to interacting with new opportunities that can help grow their business.
Be aware that LinkedIn’s CPCs are higher than other social media platforms. However, for B2B businesses that have a high-value price tag per sale, it can still pay off their ad spend with a positive ROI.
Facebook ads have a reach of 1.6 billion people and lets you customize your campaigns based on specific objectives and countless audiences. You can choose to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Audience Network or across them all. Most of their ads are on a PPC model with relatively low bids, and there is no minimum spend which can be beneficial for smaller businesses.
Instagram lets you easily turn existing posts into ads. You can show your promoted content in Stories, Reels, and your audience's feed. A tip to know when making content is that how-to tutorials are the most popular form of Instagram video content.
Then choose where you want to send visitors to—whether it's to your online store, Instagram profile or elsewhere. Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can choose to run your ads from within the Instagram app or through the Facebook ads manager.
Twitter offers many ad formats, with the most popular ones being standard promoted posts that show up in your audience's newsfeed amongst organic tweets.
Another common ad format is Follower Ads, which can help you to increase your visibility and promote your account. Follower Ads on Twitter can do so by showing your business’s Twitter account in the Who To Follow section as a recommendation. This will help you get noticed by new audiences who otherwise might not have heard of you.
Pinterest advertising allows you to create Pins that will be served to your audience’s feed. The goal is that they will find them relevant, click on them and pin them again for later. Their ad format is very visual, which can be a great benefit for retail brands.
The beauty of this type of advertising is that you often do not notice that the Pins are promoted, which creates a very favorable experience for the end-user. Additionally, 78% of Pinterest users find branded content useful, so feel confident in showing up to their searches.
TikTok is not just for fun dance videos, they also tailor to businesses with their short-form video ads. The latest social media platform shows high engagement rates, giving you access to passionate users. Furthermore, you can segment your target users into verticals to reach the most relevant audience.
Remember, the key to TikTok ads is to tell your brand story in a unique way. Try to jump on trending songs and sounds to include in your video ad to fit the tone and style of this type of advertising.
One of the first and longest-standing types of advertising methods is print. This promotion method allows you to advertise your brand in physical printed newspapers, magazines and brochures.
Even though types of digital advertising are taking a fair share of the print market, there is still a desire for holding and reading physical content that consumers love.
Newspaper and magazines
Whether it's in the New York Times or Vogue fashion magazine, you can show promotions for your business on either a full dedicated page or place a smaller ad on a page with several other business promotions.
In print, you pay per size of your advertisement and where it is located in the magazine or newspaper. For example, the back cover of a magazine will be more expensive and more effective since many more people will see it. Likewise, full-page ads will be significantly more costly than smaller formats.
You should choose the types of magazines that your audience is most likely to read, as some publications are very clearly geared towards specific demographics.
Brochures and flyers
If you're looking to get into the hands of as many people, just as you might be with a business card, highlight your products and services benefits in the printed content you can easily hand out. Then go and distribute these advertising assets in stores, at events, or even outside on high foot traffic streets.
04. Direct mail
We know snail mail has its shortcomings in terms of speed. Nevertheless, we never stop checking our mail and sometimes enjoy it too. In fact, 55% of people look forward to finding out what mail they received. In comparison to email marketing, 80% of traditional mail is opened while 80% of emails are disregarded.
Marketers use direct mail to send customers coupons, promotions and news about their business. Many also include their business website so users can go online for more information about the offer. An easy way to get readers online is by generating a QR code that, when scanned, immediately leads the user to the destination of a promotion.
Wondering where to begin? You can start finding addresses for direct mail advertising from your existing customer user base retrieved from your CRM. In addition, you can approach direct mail companies that sell this type of information.
05. Broadcast, video and TV advertising
Lights, camera, action. Get your video script ready and start filming because video content is an extremely effective and engaging type of advertising. In fact, 61% of marketers plan to increase their video spending in 2021 as this type of advertising is where the future is heading. Videos can advertise your business via a broadcast, an infomercial, a television advertising commercial or via streaming platforms.
On the one hand, TV advertising is ideal for reaching a larger, more general market area since it can reach thousands, if not millions, of people at once. On the other hand, it is hard to know the reach and direct ROI, and sales impact TV ads have, as tracking is not so straightforward as online advertising.
Also, TV ads can be expensive as they are sold by the second length and can change by price depending on the time it airs, the program it airs on and even if it's a local or national TV channel.
Regardless of where you choose to promote your video ads (Youtube is always a good place to start), make sure the quality of your video is high and that you provide details about the value or problem your product solves.
It really has become simple to make online video campaigns with marketing tools such as a free online video maker. Once done, you can repurpose your created video for several different types of advertising, including social media.
06. Out-of-home (OOH) outdoor advertising
Have you ever been to Times Square in New York City? There, you can get a 360-degree view of outdoor ads all around you in the format of flashing billboards, busses passing by with promotions for restaurants and Broadway plays and signs catching your eye wherever you look.
But NYC is not the only place where outdoor advertising is such a success. Most cities and towns around the world utilize the outdoors as an advertising space, with 71% of consumers often looking at the messages on vehicles and roadside billboards.
When it comes to costs, outdoor advertising can be quite expensive, especially in very popular high traffic areas.
By 2023 spend on out of home advertising is expected to top US$39 billion, proving this traditional form of advertising is still an effective way to reach people.
Billboards enable your campaign to show up on huge poster signs in places such as the side highways or sports stadiums. Ultimately, anywhere that has a lot of people passing by is an excellent place for this type of advertising.
What makes these billboards so appealing is that they can be enormous and eye-catching, especially when integrating digital media into the outdoor spaces.
Millions of people commute each day using different modes of transportation. Many advertisers take advantage of these commutes by showing OOH ads on buses, taxis, bicycles, airports and flight seats.
Street advertising is done on sidewalks, crosswalks or in places people walk or sit on. Guerrilla marketing is often incorporated into street advertising, in which natural elements of our street environment are used to promote a business.
Take for example the ad where McDonald’s turned a stripped crosswalk into their world-known french fries. Other ideas could be painting benches with your brand colors or incorporating your product in the space in a creative way. As you can see, these ads are very imaginative, so try to be unique and out of the box with this type of advertising.
07. Cell phone mobile advertising
Did you know Americans check their phones 96 times a day, which averages to once every 10 minutes? This constant use helps explain why marketers like to use mobile advertising as one of their marketing outlets.
Cell phone advertising allows you to push notification ads via SMS to your target customers. You can send a promotion or offer and typically includes a URL to a landing page or website to take action.
This type of advertising is also popular because it comes at a low cost and has an extensive reach. The average open rate for text message marketing campaigns is 98%.
08. Product placement
In case you have not noticed this before, most TV shows and movies have products strategically placed in them for promotion. This means you, as a business, can pay money to have a specific character drink your branded coffee or wear your t-shirt design. But it is not just physical products that fall under this type of advertising, you can also just have your business name or brand mentioned in the plot.
Product placement advertising leads consumers to make an unconscious connection between the scene of a movie and a brand, like associating the powerful 007 James Bond with the luxury Aston Martin sports car he drives. It’s proven that 52% of North Americans trusted product placement ads and 49% took action after seeing such an ad.
If you choose product placement advertising, be intentional with where and how you wish to place your products and ensure it matches your brand image.
Consumer-generated advertising is one of the newest types of advertising that has taken the marketing world by storm. Ads based on user-generated content are very trusted by audiences and receive 4 times higher click-through rates than other types of advertisements.
In this online marketing strategy, brands pay people to create content for them and promote the content on their behalf. The content users create can be anything from videos and blog entries to social posts, tutorials and more.
You'll find opportunities to work with influencers, micro-influencers, affiliate marketers and brand ambassadors within this advertising world. Reaching the audience of the creator who produced the content is a big added perk, as it gives you automatic relevant reach.
Saving time is also a benefit of consumer-generated ads, as businesses don’t need to spend time creating and promoting the assets. You should also know that payment methods for your consumer-generated content are not limited to money. Sometimes you can compensate creators with free products, experiences and discounts.
10. Radio and podcast advertising
In today's fast-paced world, radio and podcast advertising has become a prevalent way to consume information on the go, especially through podcasts and the radio.
With this in mind, you can take advantage of the many listeners out there that you can reach with ads, with high peaks of tuning in during commuting hours.
When it comes to targeting, you can narrow in and advertise to a niche group of listeners that will find your promotion most interesting and relevant. To do this, focus on a specific radio channel or podcast type that aligns with your services. Users might find your sponsored message very helpful as 54% of podcast consumers say that they are more likely to consider the brands they hear advertised on podcasts.
Lastly, you don't have to rely on large, existing radio stations or podcasts to cover you. You can start your own podcast for free with one of these podcast website templates. This medium will enable you to highlight your expertise and tell your unique brand story.
Common advertising techniques to start with
Once you've chosen the types of advertising you want to start with to promote your business, you'll need to think about which advertising techniques to deploy within your advertising strategy.
There are many techniques to choose from, each of which can influence how well your target audience responds to your advertising strategy and campaigns, but we've put together a list of the most popular to get you started with your preferred type of advertising.
Appealing to emotion: imagine a TV ad for a car. The car is filled with a family heading off an adventurous road trip, all of them laughing and excited for the fun ahead. This is appealing to your emotions inaction.
The bandwagon effect: this technique is all about creating demand and hype for a product, because someone else has it. Imagine a social media ad for a new phone, crowds of people all using the same device, to create that 'I must have' impulse in consumers.
Typography: this technique works best for large brands, with easily recognizable font based logos. Cocoa Cola for example uses their well known typography and logo as center stage in a lot of their advertising.
Color psychology: this is all about using colors to evoke emotions in your target audience that encourage them to take action. Red, for example, is known to trigger hunger when used in fast food commercials either online, or in print. Color psychology and appealing to a target audiences emotion are often used together in advertising.
Testimonials: as a form of social proof testimonials can be powerful when used within all types of advertising. People respond well to positive reviews or accounts of users they can relate to, using a product or service and sharing their experiences with it.