Image by John Baker
Online Advertising - How and where to advertise

Online Advertising is an important part of driving awareness to your brand and your company website. It is not necessarily for every SME in the UK and is very much dependant on your business type and whether you need to attract more customers to your proposition. We would not recommend advertising online if you don't have a website or social media pages.

If you are aiming to increase traffic and online orders then we would recommend spending on online advertising to compliment your SEO and raise awareness of your brand. Advertising online allows you to be very specific so you can set up campaigns to very specific individuals or exact search terms through search engines such as google or bing. Before you spend be sure to review the options and once live track your results to make sure your money is driving traffic to your site and that stays on your site. ie customers that spend or look around and don't just click and leave. 

We have outlined options below of different ways to advertising online and how and why to use them.

1. Facebook

Facebook is so ubiquitous that apparently one out of every five minutes spent on a mobile is either there or on their sister site, Instagram. There are about two billion people who log into Facebook every month. While the network is promoted as a way to keep up with family and friends, a large number of Facebook users follow and interact with brands on the site.

With continually changing algorithms, it can be hard to get organic traffic on Facebook and this is done to encourage brands to spend on advertising. Paying for placement on the platform allows you to get in front of more people, and to get in front of the specific ones that you want and because of the data it holds on individuals this can be very specific.


Paid ads come in a number of different forms.

  • Promoted postslook just like regular posts from your Facebook page, but are more likely to show up in a user’s feed.

  • Display ads can also be inserted into the feed in the form of videos, slideshows, or photos. You can even advertise in the standalone Messenger app..


Facebook allows for an extremely high degree of targeting which is great as you can be very focused and not waste budget on unnecessary eyes. This can be difficult to navigate if you do not have strong technical skills though so it is worth watching guides to help you understand this

2. Instagram

Instagram, owned by Facebook, gives you access to a massive and very engaged audience. The app boasts 500 million users opening the app every day. While this is smaller  than Facebook, it a high concentration of a specific audience from a potentially desirable demographic. The audience on this app trends toward the highly coveted Millennial and Gen Z age groups so 14 to 35 years olds predominantly.

Instagram is a highly visually appealing platform so if your products are visual and would work well as photos and videos, it can be an ideal and eye-catching place to get interaction. The platform allows you to add your business address and phone number to all posts as well so you don't necessarily need a website although we would recommend having one.


The ad reporting leave a lot to be desired so it is worth testing the advertising and monitoring the results manually to see if your enquiries/orders increase. You can also only access Instagram’s full features on the mobile app which can make it hard to manage as most people would work on a laptop or desktop.

3. Snapchat

Snapchat quickly grew and gathered a substantial audience since launch in 2011. They added paid advertising in 2014, and a range of brands jumped on board to take advantage of the getting in front of their audience

Snapchat offers three different types of advertising that are very visual and creative so not necessarily right for everyone:

  • Geofilters, a great tool for brand recognition. These put a transparent filter over the user’s snap.

  • Sponsored Lenses, which are interactive filters that Snapchat users can add to a video or photo. Lenses are activated through gestures, such as raising your eyebrows or tapping the screen.

  • Snap Ad videos. These were the first video ads to be released in a native vertical format that capitalizes on the app’s mobile-first environment.


Some advertisers may find that the reach that they want is cost-prohibitive. Work on filtering to eliminate those unlikely to buy while getting your ads in front of those prospects most likely to convert. We would recommend only looking at Snapchat if you have a substantial budget and very visually appealing products.

4. Google Ads

Google advertising is probably the first point of call for most online businesses. To achieve the best online advertising experience on Google Ads, you will need to learn and understand how search results work and what search phrases are right for your business. Once you understand the many features, this can be the best online advertising option for brands in many niches. We suggest watching tutorials and monitoring your results on google analytics. Not juts clicks but how long people are staying on your site and what they do when they arrive.

Google Ads serves ads in search results on thousands of web pages. Some Google Ads advantages included targeting your ads based on geography, demographics and other criteria.

Ad campaigns can get very expensive, very quickly if you are not careful. Without the right controls, you can run up a bill for many useless clicks in hours so set daily budgets and see which search terms are most fruitful.

5. Google Display Ads

While many people think only of Google’s text ads, the search engine giant also has a very powerful Display Network. Display ads do not show up in search. They are included on websites throughout the internet in a wide range of topics. Google says that their ad network reaches 90% of internet users and is displayed across two million websites.

Most people have seen Google Display Ads, whether they realize they have or not. These ads will appear as banners or small boxes on sites that promote products or services. Again these adverts like snapchat are best for very visual products or services.

Because of the nature of the Display network, this is among the best online advertising choices for remarketing. By using the targeting tools to put your ads in front of people who have already expressed an interest in products like yours, you can increase the chances of getting a sale. It is an effective way to gain business from competitors.


6. Bing

When people think of search marketing, they usually think only of Google as it dominates the search market. 

According to Microsoft, though Bing now accounts for 33.5% of all searches performed in the US and this audience includes 68 million people who are not reached by advertisers who only promote on Google products.

Bing aims to make search advertising as easy as possible for their clients and therefore their import tool allows you to bring in your campaigns from Google Ads easily. 

They also have a wide array of tutoring tools to help people get familiar with the network. The Bing Ads Accredited Professional certification program allows you to gain in-depth understanding of the network. You can also watch webcasts from their educational library on the topics that interest you most.

Although the reach of Bing is smaller they can offer access to customers that many of your competitors may be forgetting

7. Twitter

This social media platform has been around since 2006 and is still a key platform with around 500 million Tweets every day. While this indicates a highly active platform this can make it very hard for brands’ tweets to get seen.

Using Twitter ads can put you in front of a large number of prospects who you may otherwise not have reached. Over two thirds of Twitter users say they’ve discovered an SME there. Around 94% say that they plan to purchase items from the brands that they follow.

Twitter ads come in a number of forms. The first is the Promoted Tweet. These are just like normal tweets with one big difference: they can be seen even by people who do not yet follow your brand. Like regular tweets, they can be retweeted, liked and replied to. These offer a great chance to start a conversation with potential customers but need to be monitored.

Promoted accounts put your entire account in front of potential users to gain new followers. Twitter users are very open to this sort of advertising and 85% say that Promoted Accounts help them find new products and services.

This can help increase engagement.

The free communication that makes Twitter such a colourful platform can also be a downside, however. Some brands have discovered that conversations that started with Promoted Tweets or Trends did not go in the direction that they had planned and therefore you need to spend time monitoring not just the advert traction but how well they are received. Be sure to keep topics non-controversial and agreeable to capture a positive response with hopefully no negative trends.

Finding the Best Online Advertising for Your Brand

For most brands, a combination of the above is what is required. We would recommend trying to experiment with multiple adverts on a couple of platforms initially to to see which ones produce the best results for you. Test similarly ads on each, or try targeting different audience segments on different networks. Make sure you continually observe your results and make adjustments based on these. Don't just place adverts and leave them as this will waste your budget. If you don’t have time to continually manage your ads but you need them to run then simply hire an expert to manage them. 

Online Advertising