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Which Digital Advertising Channel is Right for You?

Digital advertising encompasses a broad range of terms, including paid search, paid display and paid social. You can run them all, but some business objectives are a better fit for specific channels. Here's a quick look at each to help you decide which digital advertising channel is right for you.

Paid Search

Paid search advertising is where marketers use search engine companies like Google Ads and Bing Ads to create digital advertisements based on SERPs (search engine result pages) and targeted keywords.

A lot of paid search models use PPC (pay-per-click). This makes it easier for marketers to track the ROI of their digital advertising efforts. This is one of the most common and widely used methods for buying ad space online.

Paid search is useful for people who are typically familiar with your industry, product or line of business. They are looking for products and services you offer. Paid search is specifically tied to keywords and search engines, so your ad is highly relevant to those who find it.

Paid Display

The primary difference between search and display advertising has to do with how people find your ad. Paid display is good for generating brand awareness. It is not limited to search and can be displayed across different websites to generate visibility for your brand.

In addition, the type of media for paid display varies. That’s because this advertising is traditionally used in retargeting (those ads that follow you across the internet). Paid display ads can be text-based, banners, Gmail inbox messages, etc.

Paid Social

Paid social has become particularly common in B2C industries, but has also gained momentum in B2B as well. As the name implies, paid social refers to advertising displayed on social networks: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others.

The challenge with paid social becomes determining which network makes the most sense for your ad budget. While LinkedIn is often the first thought for B2B companies, increased cost around advertising on the platform has made it less appealing to small- to medium-sized businesses. Facebook and Instagram have become increasingly popular due to their reach, cost-efficiency, and ad-optimized format.

Expect to continue to see more companies investing in paid social. According to the 2020 Digital Advertising Trends report from That Agency, people spend an average of 135 minutes on social media. Per day!

What’s Right For You?

For many companies, the challenge of choosing which of these avenues to take – search vs. display, search vs. social – can be difficult. This has led to a rise in what’s called programmatic advertising.

Programmatic advertising uses automation, and in some cases machine learning, to make decisions around media buying and advertising placement. This method often has guaranteed impressions and can help companies scale their paid ad spend.

As we mentioned, the rise of digital advertising has everything to do with meeting customers where they are. Use this same frame of reference when deciding what makes sense for your advertising strategy. Put in the research first before jumping in!


Want some help? A dXm eXpert can guide you on which channel is right for you.

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