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Three Reasons Why Users Like Online Ads: "1. Exposure to new products" - binoculars "2. Ads are for products they're interested in" - heart phone "3. Ads keep apps and content free" - money

The Best Online Ad Platform: Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter | A Complete Guide

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If you’re interested in learning about the world of online advertising, then you’re in luck. Ads are perhaps the most effective means to an end when it comes to creating online content for your business that generates high ROI.

Ads are great because they give users exposure to new products and services and help keep apps and content free.

Ads are also a great way to stand out in a sea of competition now that more and more distribution platforms are prioritizing sponsored content over organic content.

This post is not meant to serve as a step-by-step guide on the technical aspects of setting up and creating social media ads.

There are tons of websites that already go through the motions and to be honest, setting up ads is a pretty straightforward, user-friendly process. This is largely in part due to the fact that the various distribution platforms offer step-by-step instructions and descriptions themselves to help you through it.

Instead, what we will focus on are the basic breakdowns of each platform’s benefits, as well as words of advice and generally agreed upon industry tips to help you avoid mistakes and get the most out bang for your budget.

Local SERP with results highlighted


Google Ads

You’re most likely already familiar with Google Adword’s pay-per-click (PPC) system – a model of advertising where brands pay a predetermined fee for each time one of their ads is clicked.

PPC is great if you’re looking to get a serious boost in traffic and brand awareness, but you don’t feel like waiting years to grow it organically.

Google uses two main networks on which to promote their ads:

Sponsored Results

Sponsored results, or advertisements with Google Adwords, appear in Google’s search network either right above the organic links or at the bottom of the results page with the little “Ad” emblem included under the headline.

Advertise on the Search Network if you’re looking to target “active” users in search/shopping mode.

These users typically offer higher quality traffic because they are directly searching for something similar to what your brand has to offer on Google’s search engine or partner sites.

DropBox banner for free trial

Banner Ad on

Display Ads

These are ads, such as banner ads, videos, text, images or other forms of rich media format, that appear within the Google Display Network (GDN). The GDN consists of an expansive network of websites that have partnered with Google and thus, have agreed to displaying ads on their webpages.

The Display Network is estimated by Google to reach over “90% of global internet users expanding across 2 million sites”.

Many become hesitant about getting into the GDN because the ads are targeting what are considered “passive” users – those not actively in searching or shopping mode.

These users are typically catching up on news, reading blog posts or video clips instead.

However, the value in the GDN lies in spreading brand awareness.

The number of impressions received compared to the traditional routes such as newspapers, billboards or magazines. In short – you can receive the same amount of impressions, without breaking the bank or taking out a massive loan.


In fact, the best tactic for those beginning with the display network is to start with remarketing.

According to Mark Irvine, a paid search strategist, “If you’re ever going to see any kind of return on the display network you’re going to see it from remarketing first.”

Remarketing in essence allows you to “cookie” site visitors and strategically place ads on the various website they’re browsing.

This obviously works extremely well because these individuals have already demonstrated an active interest in your brand by visiting your site.

Managed placements

Managed placements are great if you’re looking to have greater control over where your ads are being placed.

Unlike “interests” or “topic” targeting, where Google decides which sites are most relevant based on the niche you’ve expressed interest in, managed placement allows you to choose a handful of specific sites in the display network that you deem preferable.

It’s important to keep in mind that effective PPC lies not only in your ability to properly target your niche demographic, but also in the budget you’re putting behind this marketing.

It’s also recommended that brands create ads in every format available, as not all sites support the same ads.

Furthermore, it’s highly recommended that you choose to advertise on either the Search Network or the Display Network for maximum ROI.

Focusing on one or the other, as opposed to both simultaneously not only prevents you from eating up your budget, but it also concentrates your efforts and thus increases the probability that you’ll receive higher conversions.

Buffer Facebook profile with arrow pointing to "Promote" button


Facebook Advertising

There are a million and one places that you can get information on Facebook ads, but the truth of the matter is that none of it means diddly if you’re not keeping up with Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm changes on a regular basis.

If you’re not subscribed to algorithm updates, you’re essentially leading blind, and potentially wasting valuable money, time and other resources. A few essential tips on managing ad content on Facebook are included below:

  • Facebook’s recent 2018 updates focus on creating more organic and meaningful connections with their users. They’re on a quality control overhaul, demoting posts from brands, publishers and marketers, and boosting those posts which “generate back-and-forth” discussion among users.
  • Oversharing (to the tune of around 50 posts per day), gets demoted, especially if these posts are click-baity in nature or lead to low quality sites.
  • Reactions carry heavier weight than Likes and so creating content for ads that will elicit Reactions as opposed to Likes, is in your best interest.
Average click-through rate/Average cost per click graphs from WordStream


When it comes to setting up a Facebook Ads campaign, the best advice you can get is to start with a specific goal you have in mind. For example, “I’m looking to receive 200 app downloads”.  When you open up Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll come to a page that will ask you to choose your marketing objective.

What's your marketing objective?


Once you choose your objective, you’re asked to name your campaign, define your target audience based on a list of parameters and define your budget (either daily or lifetime).

Then, you’re able to create an advertisement based on an already existing post that you can boost, or an entirely new post created specifically for advert purposes.

There are also several types of advertising formats one can use other than your standard single image/video format.

The Carousel format has become increasingly popular and exists of two or more scrollable images or videos.

A Slideshow  is a looping video advertisement that can include up to 10 images and a Canvas combines both images and videos to create a more “immersive experience”.

A general rule of thumb is that regardless of which images or videos you use, you should make sure they contain as little overlaid text as possible (generally no more than 20% of the image should contain text).

Also, it’s important to create multiple ad sets, that ideally contain no more than five ads per set. This is because Facebook generally gives most of the reach in n ad set to one particular ad within it. So, if you’re creating 20 ads per campaign, most of them simply “will not be shown to enough people for you to know if they would work or not”. Furthermore, you shouldn’t be oversaturating the newsfeeds with your ads anyways.

Finally, it’s imperative to make sure that your targeting isn’t too broad because this can absolutely kill your conversions. This means slowly adding more parameters one-by-one to increase accuracy.

What's the Most Active Industry on Instagram Stories?

Marketing on Instagram

As of today Instagram has roughly 800 million active users. Generally speaking, when one advertises on Instagram it’s because they’re looking to do one of four things:

  1. Increase brand exposure
  2. Drive website traffic
  3. Generate new leads
  4. Move current leads through your marketing funnel

Advertising on Instagram is extremely effective, especially if you’re running a brand that is heavy on visuals (i.e. photography industry, art industry). In fact, 75% of users engage after being inspired by a post and 60% claim that they discover new products on the platform.

The primary user demographic ranges from 18 – 29 years of age (about 55% of users), with 28% of users ranging from 30 – 49 years of age.

When it comes to advertising on the platform, the setup is similar in nature to others, with Instagram giving you the ability to target your preferred audience based on a defined set of parameters including age, gender, locations, interests, behaviors and more.

Instagram ad costs are slightly higher than those of Facebook, but users will find that their ads on Instagram typically perform better than on other platforms due to the fact that they are so highly targeted.

One great feature to note is the ability to configure your ads so that they boost app installs and redirect users to the store where they can purchase your app. You’re also free to choose placements – which is a critical step that when ignored, results in your ads appearing on both Facebook and Instagram.

So if you’ve properly tailored your ads to the specific platform they’re being run on (as you should), then you’re not going to want to miss this part.

There are also various formats in which you can create your ads aside from the standard image feed ad, much like Facebook. One can create call-to-action buttons, Instagram Story ads, video feed ads, video Story ads, Canvas Story ads and  Carousel ads.

Instagram: Number of Hashtags vs Average Engagement per Post


Regardless of which format you choose, you should not only make sure that your ad is tailored specifically to the platform, but you should be sure to get creative and use plenty of hashtags. According to research, the ideal number of hashtags is 9-11, with anything less being less effective, and anything more tending to look sloppy.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that there are indeed best times and days to post on every platform.

When it comes to Instagram, Mondays and Thursdays are best, with 2AM, 8AM-9AM and 5PM being the best times of day to post. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is merely a guideline and you should always do your own analysis of which times and posting formats are best for you and your particular audience.

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Twitter Campaigns

With 325 million active users and 500 million Tweets sent per day, there’s no denying the fact that brands can tap into some seriously significant ROI from their Twitter investments.

According to recent data, 66% of users have not only discovered new  small to medium-sized businesses on the platform, but 94% of them stated that they planned to purchase from said businesses they follow.

The ad setup is similar to other platforms where brands can choose their target audience based on a selection of predetermined parameters and budget.

Brands can promote Tweets for higher engagement, pay-per-follower gained during a campaign, create an awareness campaign and pay for impressions, or drum up a video views campaign to increase the number of views your content receives.

It’s highly suggested that when setting up campaigns, you include cards – little tools that create extra functionality, similar to those created for YouTube videos. Brands can include cards that ad

extra functionality such as “website previews, app installs” and even “lead collection”.

Once your budget and formats are set, you’ll want to keep in mind a few bits of advice. The first is that it’s important to introduce yourself – since when you’re advertising on Twitter, you’re targeting users who are not already familiar with your brand.  As a result, you’ll also want to make sure your profile page is on the up and up.

Including a call-to-action is also essential for increasing engagement. In fact, Hootsuite research suggests that by simply asking for a follow, brands can increase their follows by a whopping 258% in timelines, and 86% in searches.

Retweets have also been shown to have increases by up to 311% in timelines and 317% in searches when brands have simply just requested a Retweet.

Marketers who saw sales improvements based on length of social media investment



When it comes to online advertising, the truth of the matter is that it can very easily become an expensive endeavor – especially considering the best results are achieve over long-term investment. However, online advertising is absolutely essential to your online success as a business.

Most distribution platforms heavily promote sponsored ad content over organic content and as a result, it’s crucial in order to stay ahead of the game and stand out in a sea of competition composed of conglomerates and other mega-brands.

Some final words of advice include using high-quality media for all of your advertising purposes:

No one wants to see a blurry, sloppy image or video in their newsfeeds and these eyesores quickly get demoted by algorithms and furthermore, compromise your brand image.

So, if you don’t have a Canva account, then you might want to think about getting one.

Furthermore, keeping your profile information up-to-date and including your website links wherever you can are also essential, especially if the purpose of your campaigns are to generate conversions from traffic by redirecting users to your website for products or services.

Lastly, online advertising is worth nothing if you don’t have a solid analytics platform to measure, analyze and tweak your progress. Whether you’re using the native platform analytics tools, or a more robust set such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Agora Pulse, success in online marketing lies in continuous analysis and experimentation.

So, get out there and implement an online ad campaign today!

Now that you’ve been versed in the basics and received several bits of advice and industry tips, you’re ready more than ever to get the ball rolling and achieve your highest ROI yet.

Still not confident enough to take your ad campaigns into your own hands?

No worries, we're here for you!

Get in touch with us today to discuss marketing strategies specially tailored for your business!


The Best Online Ad Platform: Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter | A Complete Guide
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