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Digital Advertising: Definitive Guide With Everything You Need To Know

At the end of the last century, no one could take the power back from traditional advertising. The huge international brands of the world enjoyed all the fame, because they were the only ones who knew how to make it work for them. But with the arrival of digital advertising things has changed. 

Brands like Coca-Cola, Sony, Marlboro, Nike, or Volkswagen attracted the eyes of the whole world with their shockingly spectacular and irresistible commercials.

Who didn’t want to be one of those daredevil cowboys riding through landscapes that looked as good as they do at the movies? Who didn’t want the running shoes Michael Jordan actually used to fly across the basketball court?

The geniuses behind all that big dollar advertising deserved the success they got. There’s no doubt about that.

That’s why television and film were the consumer’s favorite media: They were a visual delight for people of all ages. 

Although those times had their moment, the situation has changed. Now there’s a new queen: digital advertising.

What’s The Best Way To Define Digital Advertising?

Digital advertising, or online advertising, is any advertising that appears on the internet. 

If we were to extend the definition, we could say that it’s a method that takes advantage of the internet and its way of displaying ads for consumers across different digital channels (social networks, search engines, websites, etc.).

And it’s called online advertising because it refers to being “online” or connected to a network.

The Origins Of Digital Advertising 

With the rise of the internet — and with the growing popularity it has acquired — came those who saw a magnificent business opportunity to advertise and promote their products or services on it… and they were right.

Did you know that the first clickable ad appeared online in 1994 (owned by the AT&T phone company)? And it may not have been very successful, but it was definitely the event that opened the door and welcomed digital advertising in.

Naturally, at the time, digital ads meant banners (ad space that appear on a web page). Most people thought these were cumbersome and inconvenient and rarely clicked on them, unless it was by accident…

And surfing the internet at that time really wasn’t a positive experience (though it did have everyone stunned at first), with browsers like Netscape that loaded websites extremely slowly.

The importance of digital advertising 

Let’s get a little closer to the present: 2017. Online advertising, rather than an obstacle on the internet that distracts users from the really valuable content, has turned into real source of interaction between a brand and its followers. And it’s happening continuously.

According to Marketo, it’s a million dollar industry that involves almost a third of the world’s total media spend.

Digital ads are a ubiquitous phenomenon. They are on countless websites, on almost every smartphone and tablet app, on all the social networks and even on other intelligent devices—like smartwatches.

And thanks to the technological advances that have been made to identify the best audiences for brands, they can continually nurture their potential prospects with information until they’re ready to pay for a product or service.

Digital advertising provides unique opportunities for companies to show the true nature of their products or services, as well as their large-scale offerings, in a much more effective place. 

Why? Because it allows you to place ads on various media and devices, and interact with your target audience in real time.

So the next time you ask yourself if digital advertising is for you, think about the following 3 points: 

  1. Modern consumers are permanently on digital media platforms
  2. It allows you to target your ideal audience a lot more specifically
  3. User interaction and feedback makes it possible for you to customize your audience’s experience

The new consumer in the Digital Age 

We need to understand one thing: in the same way that advertising has changed, so has the consumer. And let me tell you, he is the one in charge of the situation. 

Companies must embrace this and mold themselves to the needs of bold digital consumers, who now have a wide range of options to choose from. 

What’s more, they’re much more informed buyers. They’re buyers who share opinions, investigate, write reviews and analyze everything meticulously before deciding to make a purchase. 

digital advertising

In addition, before even interacting with a brand, they’ll have a very precise concept of what it’s all about. That’s why you must have an online presence and, of course, an excellent reputation.

Thanks to the busy lives we all lead, people seek pragmatic solutions, first and foremost. They don’t want to spend hours looking for a product or making a purchase, and they want to get what they’re looking for as soon as possible and in the most convenient, easy way.

And if you don’t offer that type of experience to them, someone else will. 

It’s no longer enough to settle for offering your products or services in a static way. To be really successful, you must use a dynamic model that allows you to be right where your consumer is, and impact them at precisely the right moment (when they’re looking for a solution similar to what you offer).

This is only possible with digital advertising…

Payment Models In Digital Advertising

There are many different advertising models on the internet, but they all fall into three main categories: CPA, CPC and CPM. 

They are all based on the type of interaction the user has with the ad in question. And you’re charged based on that action.

 It’s not like it was before when you paid for a print, radio or TV ad and paid for space, etc., regardless of whether it yielded results. With digital advertising, you only pay for the results it generates. Sounds good, right?

Here are the 3 main models:

1. CPC (Cost Per Click)

Without a doubt, this the most popular type.

With this model, you only pay when a user clicks on your ad on the platform you pay for. For example, you may have paid to place your ad on Google, a social network, or another online promotional platform.


And if you’re wondering how clicks help you, the answer is simple: Most platforms or digital media allow you to segment your ads so that you can show them to the audience that interests you.

Think about it this way: a click on your ads from the right person can result in them converting into a customer when they reach your website.

That’s why, for many companies, this is their favorite way to advertise and where they invest the most: digital ads are flexible, highly visible and effective.

Find out once and for all how great they are, here: Is Your Advertising An Investment? Find Out Now!

In this glossary of digital advertising we mention other models and terms that might also interest you: Digital Marketing And Online Glossary [From A To Z]

Here we summarize the advantages and disadvantages of this model:


  • It’s very easy to get a detailed record on clicks.
  • It’d be hard to go over budget because you only pay for traffic to your site.
  • You only pay for the clicks you need.


  • Since you’re competing with other advertisers for traffic, the click price can skyrocket and become very expensive if you’re in a very competitive industry. This is because multiple advertisers offer their best bid in order to appear in the best spaces or positions.
  • The initial results will not always be the best results. This is because at the beginning, you have no way of knowing what works best and you can only optimize your results manually as time passes.
  • This model is ideal for generating traffic, but if you want your campaigns to be optimized for the generation of prospects or sales, another model may work better for you.

2. CPA (Cost Per Action)

With this model, you only pay when the user clicks on your ad and also performs the desired action (filling out a form, downloading content, making a purchase, etc.).


For example, if you have an e-commerce platform and you want them to buy something online, you will only pay when someone makes a purchase. Alternatively, if you want potential contacts to sign up on your website, you can pay exclusively when someone fills out and submits your contact form. 

Sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! Here are the key points on this model:


  • You only pay for the specific results that interest you (prospects or sales).
  • This in turn allows you to calculate your ROI (return on investment) with great accuracy and precision. Suppose you paid $30 USD to acquire a customer and your product or service costs $90 USD. Your return on investment would be 200%.


  • It’s the most expensive model.

You may like:

3. CPM (Cost per thousand impressions –technically, “cost per mille”–)

Also known as CPT (Cost Per Thousand), with this model, you pay for exposure, or the users who see your ads. 

So, for every thousand people that see your ad, you pay, regardless of the number of clicks you receive.

Here are the key points you need to know:


  • Usually, this is the most economic ad payment type.
  • It guarantees that your ads will appear the number of times you want them to be seen.
  • If you want to generate visibility and awareness, this option may work well for you because your ads will be shown to large amounts of people. 


  • If users don’t click on your ads, or become your customers, you might end up spending more than you budgeted for.
  • It’s more complicated to quantify the results of your campaigns, and your ROI.

And If They Went Away Empty Handed… You Need Retargeting 

This advertising modality, also known as remarketing, is one of the most effective if your website receives a significant amount of traffic. It works based on cookies. 

Cookies are small text files that come from a website. They’re stored on the user’s computer by their browser and record their online activity by “following” them. Their purpose is also to facilitate and optimize the user experience. 

So, when users who have visited your website but haven’t completed the desired action are surfing the web, retargeting ensures that they are exposed to your ads on other websites so they’re more likely to become your customers. 9-100-1.jpg

Digital Advertising Formats and Ad Types

One of the main reasons to switch to digital advertising? It’s got to be the huge number of different formats and ways to reach the consumers that are available to you.

We’d need a whole book to cover them all, which is why we’re just going to talk about just the more relevant ones, as well as those that are becoming the most popular and better attract prospects. The most common form of ads include:

  • Display Ads (image ads or graphic ads): These types of ads also have many formats that you can choose from based on what suits you.
  • Static Ads: this type of ads you’re probably most familiar with. They are all over the internet. They typically consist of an image, copy, a CTA* and your logo. 

These are the most common type of ads, and appear on a variety of digital media and channels (Google, Facebook, etc.). They are also the most economical.

*It’s a button placed on an ad or into a section of a website, which invites your prospect to perform an action (AKA a Call-To-Action). A CTA usually includes a short and exclamatory statement, like “Download now!”, “Register”, “Add to cart”, “Get your quote”, etc. 

Video Ads: These types of ads are similar to static ads, but are much more interesting and interactive. They resemble static ads, but they include a video and a CTA that’s focused on you playing it, like “Watch the video”, “Play the video now”, etc. 

Dynamic Display Ads (GIF ads) are ads that feature multiple images that move through a cycle like a presentation. The animations that are so popular today are also used in digital advertising alongside the offer and a CTA. 

Pop-Up Ads: Mmm… These ads are controversial! You probably think they’re annoying, because they appear in the center of your screen and obstruct what you are looking at. 

In the past, they appeared as new windows, but because there are now blockers for this format of ads, creators have found innovative ways to avoid adblockers and make them appear no matter what.

When the pop-up ads appear varies and depends on factors that you choose. For example, the ad might appear once you’ve been on the page for a certain time, or when you scroll down to a certain point. It might also appear when you try to return to the previous one or close the page you’re on.

Text ads on search engines: There are some ads that aren’t graphical in nature. Google, for example, shows text ads in the search results, at the top and to the right side of your screen.

Sites Where Your Digital Advertising Can Appear

Now that you’re familiar with the most popular advertising formats, let’s talk about where your ads can appear.

  • Internet Browsers

It’s clear that the undefeated champion of internet search engines is Google, but there are many others that some people use (like Bing, Yippy, Yahoo, etc.). They all show ads in some way or another, either on their homepage or in the search results.

No matter if they’re popular or not, these search engines bombard the web surfer with ads all the time, making them an excellent way to attract prospects.

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  • Social media platforms

With the ever-increasing popularity of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc., advertising has also changed in nature.

Social media is not only a means of entertainment and leisure, they’re very useful for distributing your ads and creating a connection with more than one type of audience. 

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As we already mentioned, you have to be where your customers are. And let me tell you, it’s highly likely that they’re on at least one social media platform.

In fact, according to Adweek data, companies are aiming to increase their investment in social media advertising by up to 70% by 2018, since the results have been so surprisingly positive.

And while Facebook is still the most popular social media platform, other networks like Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are gradually gaining ground.

  • Streaming Platforms

Streaming platforms, like social media platforms, are widely used and more and more brands are choosing them to advertise on. 

Well-known platforms like YouTube, Spotify or Pandora accept different formats, which makes them an ideal choice for companies that like to make multiformat ads — particularly those that include video.

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  • Advertising on mobile devices

This isn’t actually a form of advertising as such. It simply involves adapting ads previously mentioned to devices like smartphones or tablets. 

Either way, placing your advertising ads on these devices is something you cannot afford not to do now, even if it involves additional work to make the appropriate adaptations. 

Why? Because the modern consumer spends more time on his or her smartphone or tablet than on a computer, according to data from companies like TechCrunch or ExtremeTech.


  • Apps

Regarding the previous point, many of the applications available on operating systems like Android, Windows or iOS also show ads. 

This all makes digital advertising sound desirable, right?

  • Native advertising

This modality continues to expand as time passes. It consists of promoting your ads on a website or other platform, but it also matches the format and style of the editorial content of that platform.

For example, if you’re reading an article about sports, you’ll probably see an ad from a sports brand. The advantage of this type of advertising is that it’s contextual so it’s more likely to be of interest to the person looking at it.

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  • Smart Advertising

Smart advertising involves artificial intelligence technologies. It’s a method that allows you to do your online advertising in a completely automated way, more than an advertising modality as such.

Specialized tools are used in smart advertising. They take 100% care of the advertising campaigns. How? By using Big Data and optimizing your ads using Machine Learning.

Artificial intelligence is on fire right now, and there are more applications and uses for it every day. 

Here, you can read more about this great theme: A New Era, Artificial Intelligence comes to Digital Advertising.

How to get more conversions

Your ads could be highly effective, but if your website or landing page* doesn’t meet your needs, you’ll never get conversions from them…

Now that all brands are aware of the high impact of digital media, the competition is at its best. What does that mean? That you have to do your job very, very well.

For example, other articles that might interest you on how experts and publicists constantly achieve better results are:

No matter which media you choose, you need to have impeccable and optimized landing pages* to get the most out of your campaigns. 

*A landing page is the page a user reaches after clicking on your ad. 

Your ads might create a lot of visitors, but if your page doesn’t communicate the benefits and features of your product/service and/or it’s not persuasive enough, you won’t get any results.

That’s why we recommend that you use the following Kissmetrics checklist to make some high converting pages:

a. Create a relevant and clear call-to-action

First of all, let’s define what a CTA (Call To Action) is. A CTA is a button, some copy or a hyperlink that invites the user to perform a desired action. For example, “Subscribe now to receive the best content!”, “Download your free book now!”, “Request a free consultation!” etc. 

What do I mean by relevant and clear? 

  1. That the offer brings significant value to the user
  2. That there’s no doubt which action the user should carry out
  3. It needs to stand out from the other copy and images around it on the page or ad

(This is a perfect example of how a good CTA should look like. The colors as well as the action to perform is perfectly clear, and both CTAs aim for the same purpose.)

Remember that the CTA is what triggers conversions. If you don’t make it clear to the user what you want them to do, they’ll leave the website without even thinking about it.

b. A valuable offer

Your offer is what you deliver to your visitors in exchange for having performed the action you requested. Examples include a discount coupon, a free trial period, an eBook, a phone call from a sales advisor, etc. 

There has to be a “hook” to motivate them to do what you want.

c. A specific and limited approach

If you really want to get prospects quickly, you have to make it easy for them. Don’t lose sight of what interests you and focus on that.

If you give people a number of options and too much information that is badly organized, it will make things complicated for you.

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What in this world is this? No, really…what is this?? Because I surely don’t understand what’s going on here. This is the type of design you should always avoid.

Try to give them intimately related information and set a single goal; if you’re interested in them doing other secondary actions, create other specific pages for that.

Remember: the ability to focus is the most persuasive weapon. Think about it this way: everything on your website must have one goal. That goal, of course, is the one specified on your CTA.

d. Highlight the attributes that make your product different from the competition’s

No matter what you’re offering, chances are that you have more than one competitor. And if you fail to highlight what sets you apart from them or what makes you unique, prospects may not choose your product or service over theirs. 

While you should not stuff your landing page with information, it is important that you include the most important attributes or benefits of your product or service on it. Highlight its unique features so they’re irresistible.

Don’t forget, beyond mentioning these characteristics, to focus on the benefits that the consumer will get from them. For example, if your product has certain technology, explain how that technology will make the user’s life easier or solve a problem.

As you can see, the bullets are a perfect way to highlight your main attributes and make your website stand out from the competition.

e. Create a headline that catches attention immediately

Your headline is a phrase or statement that can make magic happen. Since it’s your main title, you can’t afford to be insipid, confusing, misleading or irrelevant.

It has to be thought up with what your business offers in mind. Because if you don’t know what you offer, how will you come up with a headline that attracts prospects through benefits?

If your initial message is not clear or informative, they may not even look at the rest of the copy, so think of something persuasive, something that you would like to read or that would arouse your curiosity.

f. Think multi-device

People are browsing on every type of device out there, and you have to anticipate that. 

Many of your potential customers will find you while on their smartphone or tablet and if you don’t adapt your digital content to look great on any device, people may not have a very nice experience they want to repeat. Part of the valuable information on your site may also be completely lost.

Test your landing page on various mobile devices and make sure it’s responsive and functional.

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g. Keep your graphics and visuals flawless

The images that go on ads or landing pages have great attraction powers. They provide structure and harmony

But, what happens when you choose a bad image or when you abuse them? 

Everything else on the ad loses prominence and that can create a bad impression.

Choose something simple, high quality and something that expresses your brand’s voice.

Airbnb nails it!

h. Don’t forget your social proof

The modern consumer likes to research before they make a purchase, and that means finding out what other people think of your company.

As social beings, we tend to ask others about their experiences and listen to what they say. This is also an essential part of the buying process.

So include as many testimonials, reviews and positive comments about your product or service as you can. 

Using what other people say about you can help you create a good reputation for your brand. In this last example, FitBit takes perfect advantage of its social proof.

Enjoy The Benefits Of Digital Advertising, Today!

Digital advertising is an excellent business tool and an effective solution to get the traffic you’re looking for. But an effective strategy is also needed to make the most of it.

If you’re ready to add digital advertising to your strategy, keep everything we’ve mentioned here in mind and get ready to turn your business around.

Remember that the secret to success in advertising depends on constantly optimizing, testing, and seeing what works best for your business. After all, making the decision is just the first step…

Focus on strategies that will deliver results in both the short and long term, and never stop thinking about how you can bring more benefits to your customers. 

You don’t have to make your head explode dealing with the planning of your digital advertising, since there is now a solution that uses artificial intelligence to do it for you… 

Adext AI is the first and only audience management as a service that applies Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to digital advertising to find the best audience or demographic group for any ad. It automatically manages budgets across a myriad of audiences, on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, optimizing each ad 480 times every single day.

Additionally, it guarantees Adext Partner agencies that it will get a better cost per conversion (lower cost per sale or cost per lead) for all the agency’s accounts and campaigns, or the service will be FREE, and no management or optimization fees will be charged. 

Currently its average improvement is of +83% more conversions than any other human, software or tool in just 10 days. After all this, there’s one thing that seems quite clear: the only opportunity cost comes from not trying it.

So, if you want to learn more about how Adext AI works, you can read this guide that explains exactly how it does.

Please let us hear from you!

Share what your experience with advertising has been up till now in the comments below. Was it good? Bad? What do you feel you need?


Digital Advertising: Definitive Guide With Everything You Need To Know

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