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Digital Advertising Platforms Pros and Cons

Michelle Givens 10/6/17 6:04 AM

The internet is full of online advertising platforms. Search engines, social media sites, and many prominent websites offer the opportunity to serve up ads. When you're interested in putting together a digital advertising promotion for your lastest inbound marketing campaign, the sheer list of choices is enough to be overwhelming. So, we've developed these easy-to-follow guide help you learn about the differences between each platform and why you might want to consider one platform over another.

Not sure what online advertising is? Read our Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Online Advertising >>


Search advertising displays your ads next to results from a search engine. You have the opportunity to reach potential customers when they're actively searching for particular information. The ad can show up for highly targeted demographics, focus on everyone looking for a specific keyword or use other criteria to narrow your audience. Search advertising puts your ad in prominent places on the results page, so you have the chance to show up before your competition does. You can generate traffic to your website, create targeted advertisements to move prospects along your sales funnel and capture buyer attention during critical decision-making moments.

Google AdWords

Search-engine-marketshare.pngAdWords is Google's search engine advertising network. You get access to ad listings on Google search result pages, as well as websites that are a part of the AdSense network. Due to Google's market share, you have a larger potential reach than with other search engines.

AdWords also offers a robust set of targeting tools designed to help you reach your ideal prospects. The display network gives you additional opportunities to show your ads, as these can appear on websites that your leads frequent. Even if they don't click on your ads, the brand awareness can help you drive them to an eventual conversion. Many keywords are highly competitive on this network, making it difficult to maintain a good ROI when you're first getting started.

Bing Ads

Bing might not have Google's search engine market share, but it stands out as a much more affordable alternative. Fewer companies are using it as part of their online advertising campaigns, so you also have a better chance at getting a good position with competitive keywords. The audience using Bing tends to be older, in the 35-54 age bracket, and their incomes and spending are also higher than the typical Google searcher.

Another advantage of Bing is that it offers a channel that Google doesn't have access to, Windows in-app ads. These content ads are matched to relevant apps which expand your potential audience. You can also reach Cortana voice searchers because Cortana relies on Bing for search results. The biggest downside with Bing is the lack of search volume.


Chart-USA-Adult-Social-Media-Usage.svgSocial advertising lets you put your ads where your target audience spends a lot of their time. Sixtynine percent of American adults are on social platforms, and many of them are avid daily users. You can build your brand awareness, nurture relationships with prospects and promote your content through this channel.


Facebook has the largest market share out of any social media network, with 79 percent of online Americans (including minors). Approximately 76 percent of Facebook's user base is daily users, keeping in touch with friends and family through status updates and Messenger. Facebook has the broadest social network audience to draw on, and it offers powerful targeting features. The Audience Network offered by Facebook increases this size even further by giving you the option to run in-app ads and ads on participating websites. You can also advertise on Instagram, which works well for brands that are particularly visually appealing.


Chart-showing-percentage-of-usa-adults-who-use-social-media-platformsLinkedIn is a social network for professionals and businesses. B2B companies do particularly well here, as many people visit this platform for work-related purposes. Over 60 percent of users on this site are between 18 and 49 years of age, and the total audience is 25 percent of online adults in the US. You have a highly targeted demographic, so while the overall volume is lower, but the lead quality may be higher.


Twitter promotes real-time conversations that are snappy and brief through its 140-character message limit. Twenty-one percent of American adults use this social network, with an average age of 18–29. Your ads appear in hashtag search results and directly in the news streams, which puts your messaging right in front of your target audience. However, due to the rapid-fire pace of new posts, it is easy to get lost in the sea of updates.


Pinterest is a visual social network that has a strong DIY focus. It holds the interest of 31 percent of online adults, with 45 percent of its user base comprised of women. If your brand has a strong visual identity, this gives you an excellent advertising opportunity. Your ads show up as sponsored pins, which integrate seamlessly with the rest of the content. A big downside of Pinterest is that many people want to find DIY or free methods for their project ideas, so you have to overcome a lack of commercial intent.

The right digital advertising platforms for your business depends on your target audience, objectives, and budget. Be sure to keep this guide handy when you're ready to experiment with digital ad campaigns. Ready to start online advertising for your business? To get started with online advertising or perfect your existing ads, be sure to download our Google Adwords Campaign Planning Template by clicking the button below!