Recently, more clients have wanted to use advertising to promote their businesses. And there’s confusion over what kind of advertising they should do. In simple terms, there are two models – search advertising (on Google, exclusively) and display advertising (everything else, from Instagram to YouTube.) I’ll explain the difference between search advertising and display advertising (Google v. Meta.)

Search advertising is exactly what it sounds like. You buy ads on Google’s search engine so when people search for that specific thing, your business ad comes up (in several different spots.) It’s considered more effective, and with a price tag to match – because your customer is actually searching for that product or service.

Display advertising (YouTube, anything Meta, like Facebook or Instagram) is interruptive advertising. You weren’t looking for that product or service, although you might have been looking online earlier that day or that month or you’re generally interested in that product or service. It’s not what you searched for (that moment) so you’re not as likely to take action that moment. If you’ve recently searched, you might be primed to see it, and that’s what display advertising is really good at.

The VERY first thing you should do before you place a single ad is to work on your organic marketing first. This means, you should have your website optimized for SEO, you should have your Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and other platforms humming along with regular posts that engage your audience. You should consider (if applicable) using a Facebook group to connect with customers and prospective ones (if it’s applicable to your business.) If you haven’t done these, regularly, advertising is an expensive spigot to keep turning on. Developing a well from which search results can pull from is always your best, first option.

The second thing is optimizing your website for product purchase. Use a 3-column grid for products. Make it super easy to buy the product, with the right button colors (red, yellow or green perform well, red performing the best in some studies.) Many people like orange as a not-red, but still very visible color on the website page. If your brand is red, though, choose a complementary (opposite) color like green to make that button stand out from your brand. The key thing is it has to stand out against the brand and other design colors on the page.

If you are doing all of that now, and you’re still looking to advertise, consider the kind of results you can expect from display – which is about brand recognition – versus search – which is about purchase decisions. You need both, but you might want to start with less expensive display advertising, or you might want to just dive right into search advertising.

What kind of budget do you need for both? Social media advertising (display) is pretty cheap but not nearly as effective. Advertising on Google depends on the keywords you choose and how “expensive” (e.g. how many others are also vying for the same ones) they are. A mix of both types of advertising works for clients.

What about long term?

Usually most campaigns need to run regularly to feed the pipeline of customers. However, unless you have an unlimited budget, you can flight ads (run them for 3 months at a time), then pause. In our professional experience, a well optimized site that you edit regularly (weekly if not more often) with good content, will perform well with a 3-month series of ads and then a pause for up to six months or a year. This has held true for many of our clients across industries, provided the site is well-optimized.

If you’re new to advertising, Google has some tutorials on YouTube (of course) for their search advertising, and so does Facebook. Ann can also help you get over that fear factor in placing your first ads and then you can continue on to experiment with them. Remember that you’re experimenting with what resonates with YOUR audience, so it’s OK to try. If you don’t get results, change the ads and try again.

There are many ways to promote your business online – and many of them probably are most effective if you’re connecting with your customers in your community (whether online or in person) through a variety of methods, including social media, especially video, online communities like Facebook groups. The type of advertising you choose depends entirely on your business. We run three ecommerce businesses and 100% of them are based in SEARCH as our primary method (mostly because these are one-off purchases, customers purchase one of our products for the life of their use; we don’t need to create community or repeat orders.)

If you need help, just pop on the form below and let Ann know. She’d be happy to do a consult with you to jumpstart your advertising campaigns.