Understanding the Basics of Paid Advertising Online



We know, we know! Paid advertising brings up a lot of questions. Why pay for something when you can use so many other digital marketing techniques to drive traffic to your website and reach your audience? And does paying for ads mean that all those blog posts, regular social media posts, and search marketing strategies aren’t worthwhile? Not at all. Here’s the deal: paid advertising on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms is definitely not meant to replace all those other marketing techniques. Instead, think of it as an extremely helpful supplement to them – a way to boost the number of people who see them, and make sure those people are the specific ones you’re trying to target.

By no means do we want you to stop producing killer content for your blog or pull back from any social media or search strategies that you already have in place! In fact, we want to show you how paid advertising can enhance the techniques that you’re already actively utilizing and help you get the most out of your overall marketing strategy. With the average reach of Facebook posts hovering around just 2.6% of your active followers, marketers need to find ways to make sure their content and messages are reaching their customers.

What is Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is a form of marketing in which an organization pays a fee to a publisher or platform in exchange for displaying an advertisement to a specific audience. The goal of paid advertising is to reach a target audience and encourage them to take a specific action, such as visiting a website or making a purchase. Paid advertising can take many forms, including search engine ads, social media ads, display ads, and native ads. These ads can be targeted to specific demographics or interests to increase their effectiveness.

Paid Advertising vs Organic Advertising

Paid advertising is a marketing tactic in which a business pays a publisher, such as a website or social media platform, to display their advertisements to a specific audience. The goal of paid advertising is to reach and attract potential customers and drive traffic to the advertiser’s website or product.

On the other hand, organic advertising refers to marketing strategies that are not paid for. These strategies rely on the content and relationships that a business has built with its audience to attract and retain customers. Some examples of organic advertising include social media posts, blog content, B2B email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Both paid and organic advertising can be effective ways to reach and engage with customers, but they differ in their approach and cost. Paid advertising is generally more immediate and can reach a wider audience more quickly, but it can also be more expensive. Organic advertising, on the other hand, takes more time to build up but can be more sustainable in the long run and often has a lower cost.

The Benefits of Paid Advertising

As you work to increase the number of active, engaged followers across your social media pages, paid advertising can be an effective way to make sure you reach the right customers at the right time and in the right place. Rather than relying on organic reach to slowly and steadily grow your numbers, targeted advertising can supercharge your growth and engagement, by providing you with a quick, easy way to get in front of new audiences who correspond with your desired demographic.

Paid advertising has a wide variety of benefits for businesses, but the most widespread benefits are:

  • Targeted advertising options to accommodate most marketing budgets
  • Increased brand awareness
  • The ability to reach your target audience and “lookalike” audiences
  • The ability to incorporate CTA (“Call to Action”) Buttons

Keep reading to find out how your business can get started designing a plan for paid advertising.

Find Your Platform

Choosing a social media platform to advertise with can be difficult and, unsurprisingly, there is no “one size fits all” model for deciding which platform is best for you. When your business is trying to decide whether to launch your paid advertising campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media site, it can be helpful to consider the following questions:

  1. Are your ads geared towards a B2B or B2C audience?
  2. Will this network help you reach your target audience?
  3. Does the ad format align with your marketing strategy (photo, video, podcasts, etc.)?

Each of these questions really revolves around a common theme – reaching your audience! At the end of the day, you want to choose the platform that you think is most likely to get the right message to the right audience. If you’re still unclear on exactly who your customer is, it is best for you to take a step back and design your perfect customer profile. With this in place, you will be much better positioned for your paid advertising campaign.

A Breakdown of Paid Advertising Platforms

To further help narrow down the social media site that is best for your business, we have broken down five of the major platforms and their corresponding ad formats.


In the social media world, Facebook is one of the first names that comes to mind for marketers – and with good reason! The platform has over 1.04 billion daily active users and more than 4.75 billion pieces of shared content per day. Now, we know that it’s important to establish an organic presence on Facebook, but how can you leverage the platform with paid advertising?

On Facebook, paid advertising options are organized based on the results that you’re trying to achieve, and the location you want your ads to be displayed.

1) Ad objectives include:

  • Boosting your posts
  • Promoting your page
  • Sending people to your website
  • Increasing conversions on your website
  • Getting installs of your app
  • Increasing engagement in your app
  • Reaching people near your business
  • Raising attendance at your event
  • Getting people to claim your offer
  • Getting video views
  • Collecting leads for your business

2) Ad locations include:

  • Newsfeed
  • Sidebar
  • Mobile
  • Audience network

Facebook’s ads allow marketers to choose specifics about the audience the ad will reach. They can control the target demographic, including location, age, languages spoken and interests.



Once you’ve selected your audience and the post that you want to run, the next step is determining the budget. Facebook charges either a daily budget (your ad is run continuously on a day-by-day basis) or a lifetime budget (your ad will be paced over a specified time frame that fits your budget). In the graphic above, we can see that the metrics vary greatly across industries but, on average, Facebook has a cost per click of $0.28.


While Twitter does have a cost per impression that is almost double that of Facebook’s, there are advantages that companies should consider when looking into paid advertising on Twitter.

The first thing to consider is the different ad types that are available, which are: promoted accounts, promoted trends and promoted tweets. Similar to Facebook, these ad formats are also categorized based on your company’s objective to increase engagement, clicks, conversions and more.

  • Promoted accounts are advertisements that invite targeted Twitter handles to follow your brand – leading to an increased base of followers that will have access to your current and future content.
  • Promoted trends capitalize on one of Twitter’s key points of differentiation – the trending topics that appear on the left side of the page. With this ad, your story can be at the top of the “trending topics” list for up to 24 hours.
  • Promoted tweets are tweets that will appear directly to targeted Twitter users at a time that you have bid on. For example, you can pay for a tweet that will appear to targeted Twitter handles at 5 pm regarding a local pop up shop that is currently underway near them.

As far as the cost of Twitter ads, both promoted tweets and accounts are estimated to run anywhere between $0.50 all the way up to $10 per click. Promoted trends, in contrast, can run all the way up to $200,000 per day.


In contrast to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is primarily used for B2B marketing. Once you’ve mastered the basics of marketing on LinkedIn, it may be time to explore the paid advertising options that are available to you. Now, it is important to keep in mind that LinkedIn advertisements tend to be more expensive than its B2C counterparts. LinkedIn outlines its minimum costs as $10 per campaign per day or $2 per CPC or CPM (these costs can rise during the bidding process, but you will only be charged for the actual amount of activity that your campaign receives).

As far as formats go, LinkedIn offers a variety of options, including the following:

  • Lead Accelerator is a lead generation tool that specifically helps businesses improve their landing page conversion rates and decrease their cost per lead. This helps B2B marketers reach out and convert prospective customers into current customers.
  • Display Ads are targeted ads for your business that are either photos located on the sidebar of the website or links located at the top of the page. These ads work best with a strong Call to Action button that will get prospective customers to click and learn more.
  • Sponsored Content allows organizations to boost their posts so that they are seen in the feeds of a targeted audience. This can be used to promote any kind of content, from a notice about an upcoming event to a blog post written by someone on your team.  

Interestingly enough, more than 94% of B2B marketers are present on LinkedIn, but only 48% engage in paid advertising usage of any kind. What does this mean for you? Opportunity! If your budget allows, there is a lot to gain by branching off into paid media on LinkedIn to really differentiate yourself from all of the other B2B marketers and companies out there.



For many customers, LinkedIn is a platform that is not visited as frequently as Facebook or Twitter. Since it isn’t necessarily part of your customer’s daily routine, it can be particularly helpful for B2B marketers to invest in sponsored or paid ads to make sure that their content stays at the top of the page when users log in and at the top of their mind when they log out.


When it comes to Pinterest, research has shown that there are particular industries that fare better than others on the visual-based platform. With more than 14 million articles pinned per day – 80% of those from a mobile device – there is a ton of potential for your company to maximize your ads on Pinterest and turn those leads into conversions!

Given that Pinterest is a platform that people use to generate ideas on what to do or buy, industries like retail and real estate tend to be more suited for success. When it comes to advertising, Pinterest offers these companies the ability to invest in Promoted pins to help get their content and products in front of the most relevant people on Pinterest.

Promoted pins are best used by companies that have an established presence on Pinterest since, at the moment, you’re only able to promote a pin that is already on your board and linked back to a website. Once you decide on the pin that you want to promote, you can update the landing page that the pin will link to, as well as choose the audience that will see the pin based on their interests and keywords.

From your business account, simply hover over the pin that you want to promote and click “promote.” From here you can go through and detail the target audience that you want this pin to reach.

Some things to keep in mind for Pinterest are:

  1. The platform is more heavily used by women – About 42% of all women on the internet have a Pinterest account
  2. It takes approximately one month for your business account to be approved, so plan a campaign well in advance
  3. Promoted pins cannot include product pricing information or a Call to Action and are restricted to include only one hashtag
  4. If you’re unsure of the best pin to promote, you can look through your analytics dashboard to determine what your best content is
  5. Ads are affordable and measured on a cost-per-click basis, which makes them a tool that can easily be worked into a wide range of marketing budgets

In contrast to some of the social media platform that have upwards of 1 billion users, Pinterest has a smaller number of users – about 50 million – that are highly engaged with brands and other users.  The visual-based platform provides opportunities to showcase products and interact with customers in ways that are more difficult to achieve on larger platforms.

Google AdWords

The last paid advertising platform that we are going to explore is Google AdWords. Though it’s not a social media platform, it is one of the largest advertising networks in the world, and as such businesses can use AdWords to reach new customers and, ultimately, help their business grow. When you talk to marketers about AdWords, they typically jump right to PPC.

PPC, or pay-per-click, advertising, is really the core of AdWords that refers to the process where advertisers can bid for the opportunity to display their advertisements to users that enter specific keywords into a Google search. For example, department stores like Macy’s, JCPenney and Lord & Taylor might bid for the opportunity to display their ad when someone enters the search term “department store” into Google.

With AdWords, the keyword is king. To fully be able to maximize this tool, you need to know the most relevant keywords for your business and what your target customers are searching for. This way, you can bid on the keywords that will give you the most conversions and business possible.  Similar to other paid advertising tools, Google only charges you when someone clicks your link and shows that your advertising is working. There is no minimum bid, but bids for popular keywords can run up to $50 or more.

Examples of Paid Advertising

Search engine advertising: This involves paying to display advertisements in the sponsored results section of a search engine, such as Google. Advertisers bid on keywords that they think users will search for, and their advertisements are displayed when those keywords are entered into the search engine.

Display advertising: This involves paying to display advertisements on websites or other online platforms, such as banner ads or pop-up ads. Advertisers can target their ads to specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and other factors.

Social media advertising: This involves paying to promote posts or advertisements on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Advertisers can target their ads to specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and other factors.

Video advertising: This involves paying to display advertisements before, during, or after online videos, such as on YouTube or on streaming platforms. Advertisers can target their ads to specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and other factors.

Print advertising: This involves paying to place advertisements in print media, such as newspapers, magazines, or brochures.

Radio advertising: This involves paying to have advertisements played on the radio, either during specific programs or at specific times of day.

Television advertising: This involves paying to have advertisements aired on television, either during specific programs or at specific times of day.

The Final Word

Now that you’ve read through the basics of paid advertising across a variety of platforms, we hope that you feel confident in your ability to delve into a new category of marketing. While it may be overwhelming to venture into this new realm, you can ensure success by educating yourself on all of your options and choosing the one that works best for you. If you need any help getting started or carrying out a paid advertising campaign, feel free to reach out to us at Marketing Zen today!


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