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  • Megan Nager

What is Digital Advertising? A Beginner’s Guide

Digital advertising is a juggernaut of the marketing world, transforming the way brands connect with their audiences. Nowadays, where are perpetually plugged into the digital realm, digital advertising has become an indispensable tool for businesses striving to make their mark. From eye-catching banner ads on your favorite websites to sponsored posts that pop up in your social media feed, digital advertising is omnipresent. This article takes a deep dive into the world of digital advertising, exploring its nuances, importance, and strategies.

Table of contents:

What is Digital Advertising?

To kick things off, let's unravel the essence of digital advertising. Products and services are promoted through digital channels such as websites, search engines, social media, email, and mobile apps. It's the art and science of leveraging the internet and electronic devices to reach and engage with a target audience.

Digital advertising encompasses a vast landscape, comprising different formats, tactics, and platforms. From paid search ads that show up when you Google something to those captivating video ads that interrupt your YouTube binge-watching sessions, digital advertising comes in various shapes and sizes.

Differences between Digital Advertising and Traditional Advertising

To truly appreciate the significance of digital advertising, it's essential to contrast it with its traditional counterpart.

1. Cost-Effectiveness: Traditional advertising, like TV commercials or print ads, can be exorbitantly expensive. Digital advertising, on the other hand, offers various budget-friendly options. You can allocate your budget precisely, targeting specific demographics or keywords, which is often impossible with traditional media.

2. Targeting Precision: Digital advertising allows for laser-focused targeting. With tools that can analyze user behavior and preferences, you can deliver your message to the right people at the right time. Traditional advertising, though effective in its own right, lacks this precision.

3. Real-time Metrics: Unlike traditional advertising, where you might need to wait weeks or even months to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign, digital advertising provides real-time analytics.

4. Interactivity: Digital ads often involve elements of interactivity. Users can click, swipe, like, comment, or even make a purchase directly through an ad. This level of engagement is challenging to replicate in traditional advertising.

5. Global Reach: Traditional advertising is generally limited to regional or national exposure.

In essence, digital advertising offers more bang for your marketing buck in terms of cost, precision, and engagement.

Why is Digital Advertising Important?

Now that we've scratched the surface, let's delve into why digital advertising is not just important but absolutely indispensable for businesses in the digital age.

1. Ubiquity: The digital realm is where people spend a significant portion of their time. Whether they're scrolling through social media, searching for information on Google, or checking their email, the digital world is ever-present. Digital advertising allows you to meet your audience where they already are.

2. Accessibility: The barriers to entry for digital advertising are lower compared to traditional methods. Even small businesses with modest budgets can run effective digital ad campaigns.

3. Data-Driven Insights: Digital advertising provides a wealth of data that allows businesses to fine-tune their strategies. You can analyze which ads are performing best, the demographics of your audience, and even the exact moment someone decides to make a purchase. This data-driven approach is a game-changer.

4. Personalization: With digital advertising, you can personalize your message to an unprecedented degree. By harnessing data, you can show different ads to different segments of your audience, tailoring your message to their preferences and behavior.

5. Competitive Edge: In a world where competition is fierce, being digitally savvy is a competitive edge.

What are the Different Types of Digital Advertising?

It is important to understand that digital advertising is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You can choose from a wide variety of options, each with its own flavor and appeal. Here are a few of the most prominent types.

1. Search Engine Advertising (SEA): Ever noticed those ads that appear at the top of your Google search results? That's SEA at work. Advertisers bid on keywords, and their ads show up when users search for those terms.

2. Display Advertising: Display ads are visual banners, images, or videos that appear on websites and apps. They can be static or dynamic and are often used for brand awareness or retargeting purposes.

3. Social Media Advertising: There are many powerful advertising options available on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

4. Video Advertising: With the rise of platforms like YouTube and TikTok, video advertising has gained immense popularity. Pre-roll ads, in-stream ads, and sponsored content are all part of this category.

5. Email Marketing: Email might be considered old-school, but it's still a potent digital advertising tool. Businesses send promotional emails, newsletters, and personalized offers to their subscribers.

6. Affiliate Marketing: Affiliates earn a commission for each sale generated through their efforts.

7. Native Advertising: Native ads blend seamlessly with the content on the platform where they appear. They look like regular articles or posts but are sponsored content designed to engage users without feeling intrusive.

8. Remarketing/Retargeting: Have you ever looked at a product online but didn't make a purchase, only to see ads for that same product follow you around the internet? Here's an example of remarketing in action. Users who have previously interacted with your website or app are targeted.

How Do Digital Ads Work?

After exploring the different types of digital advertising, let's look behind the curtain and see how these ads work.

1. Ad Auctions: In many cases, digital advertising involves real-time auctions. Advertisers bid on keywords or placements, and the highest bidder gets their ad shown.

2. Keyword Targeting: In search engine advertising, advertisers choose specific keywords that relate to their products or services. These keywords make the ad eligible to appear when a user searches for them. Depending on the relevancy and bid amount, the ad will appear and be positioned on the page.

3. Audience Targeting: Many digital advertising platforms offer audience targeting options.

4. Budget and Bidding: Advertisers set a daily or campaign budget and choose their bidding strategy. Some prefer to pay per click (PPC), while others opt for cost per thousand impressions (CPM). The platform then optimizes ad delivery based on these settings.

5. Ad Creatives: The creative elements of the ad, including text, images, videos, and call-to-action buttons, are vital. They need to be compelling, relevant, and designed to encourage user engagement.

6. Ad Placement: Advertisers select where their ads will appear. This could be specific websites, social media platforms, or mobile apps. The placement strategy depends on where the target audience is most likely to be found.

7. Ad Tracking and Optimization: The real fun begins once the ads go live. Advertising platforms provide advertisers with analytics tools to monitor the performance of their ads. They can adjust bids, targeting, and ad creatives to improve results continually.

8. Ad Retargeting: For users who interact with an ad but don't convert (e.g., make a purchase), retargeting comes into play. Advertisers use cookies and tracking pixels to follow these users and show them relevant ads across the web, reminding them of their initial interest.


Digital advertising has evolved into a multifaceted juggernaut, weaving itself into the fabric of our online lives. From search engine advertising that helps us discover products to social media ads that entertain and inform us, digital advertising is omnipresent and indispensable.

In the digital age, data-driven insights, personalization, and interactivity have become the pillars of successful advertising campaigns.

As technology continues to advance, so will digital advertising. New formats, platforms, and strategies will emerge, keeping marketers on their toes. The key to success in this dynamic landscape is to stay agile, adapt, and harness the power of digital advertising to connect with your audience in meaningful ways.

In conclusion, digital advertising is not just a marketing strategy; it's a powerful tool that can catapult your brand into the digital spotlight, helping you reach and engage with your audience like never before. So, whether you're a small business with a limited budget or a global corporation, digital advertising is your ticket to making waves in the digital realm. Embrace it, master it, and watch your brand soar in the digital age.

With Wake and Make Media, you can get effective digital advertising services at affordable prices.


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