February 6, 2018 | Max Willner

How to Make Digital Ads Your Customers Won’t Hate

If you’re new to the world of digital ads, it can seem pretty overwhelming. What platform do I use? How much money do I spend? Are ads successful only because of some elaborate Illuminati conspiracy?

Tom Hanks scratches chin and shrugsMAYBE.

Unfortunately for future Dan Brown books, there are no advertising secrets hidden in paintings (...that we know of). It all comes down to a pretty basic principle: people don't hate ads. They hate bad ads.

Our very own Emily Winsauer explains it best: “Successful digital ads don't overtly disrupt the consumer's browsing experience in an intrusive or annoying way. They make sense in the content and location where they're placed, look professional, are easy to understand and use. They are well targeted to the consumer, so they're relevant and speak the consumer's language. They're clear about what's being offered, so people don't feel tricked.”

Simple, right???

Man blinking in confusionwut?

I know that’s a lot, but you can do it! I’m here to help you master digital ads and knock the socks off the competition with your secret advertising cult conspiracy theory knowledge gained in an illicit ritual...I mean solid digital campaign.

What kind of digital ads are we talking here?


Nope, it’s not the newest thing your kids are hiding in their sock drawer. PPC, or pay per click, is a type of advertising where you pay for each click on one of your ads (though the term is often used for ads priced by views and conversions as well). You usually set a daily budget, then the cost of each view, click, or conversion adjusts based on competition and a number of other factors.

Most PPC involves search engines. Google AdWords and Bing Ads allow advertisers to bid on relevant keywords, and the winner's ads appear in or alongside search results.

Individual websites or groups can also host PPC display ads or banner ads, usually through an intermediary like Google. The owners of websites interested in ad income allow Google to place ads in their content in exchange for a part of the PPC cost.

Google Display

Ah, Google. Without you, we’d still asking a mysterious butler to do the heavy search lifting for us.

Ask Jeeves search engine logo, a butler in a suitJeeves knows too many of our secrets.

Anyway. It’s an understatement to say Google has changed our lives. Over three billion searches a day take place on Google. That's a great opportunity for you to get your ads in front of a huge audience.

The two most common ways to advertise through Google AdWords are the Search Network and the Display Network. The Search Network is what it sounds like: text ads placed in the search engine results. The Display Network places display ads, the banners and boxes that often frame articles, on a huge network of sites.

Both of these place your ads based on specific keywords that you’ve decided are the most relevant for your specific goals and target audience.

Social Ads

With 72% of online adults using social networking sites, you can't ignore social media in your digital ad plan.

According to HubSpot, most people expect the brands they use to be on social media and are more likely to buy from companies with a strong social media presence.

You have a LOT of options when it comes to social ads, but you don’t have to stretch your advertising budget over all them. Figure out  which one best meets the needs of your business and your buyer personas, and focus on it! You can always expand to more platforms later.

Facebook ads enable you to deliver a sense of interactivity with your brand and products. Facebook is better for advertising specific products to very specific groups of consumers.

Instagram is a visual network. To take advantage of its potential, focus on optimizing your images and videos.

Twitter lets you create campaigns for different objectives and increase their potential audience. If you want to make the most of it, combine it with an artificial intelligence tool!

YouTube ads are the closest to traditional television advertising. Make the most of their potential to tell your audience stories they will connect with.

Snapchat has a young and tech-savvy audience. If your buyer persona is under 34 (usage drops of dramatically over that age), this platform may be right for your business.

Pinterest is a hotspot for lifestyle topics like weddings, cooking and fashion. It’s useful for advertisers who find themselves in this niche.

LinkedIn can be very useful for those looking to reach out to a professional audience.

How Do I Pick?

The good news is that you don’t have to, and really shouldn’t, use every one of these types of advertising. You need to find what will work best for your business.

Targeting specific buyer personas and using paid advertising as a supplement to your organic efforts drives awareness and conversion opportunities.

Consider a few things:

  • Your type of business
  • What you’re selling
  • Your buyer personas
  • The type of ad

The best way to decide how to use your ad budget is to start from your goals.

Are you trying to build brand awareness among people who would love your lifestyle product, but have no idea you exist? Instagram is great at that, and Google Adwords Display Network can place your ads on websites related to your keywords.

Are you trying to reach people searching for exactly what you do right when they need a solution? Google Adwords Search Network is perfect, and makes it easy to target different pain points, locations, and demographics with different campaigns and ad groups.

Every business has unique needs, and no two digital ad strategies will look the same (well, they shouldn’t). Take the time to think through who you’re trying to reach and where they are in the buying process, then research which platforms will best help you accomplish those goals.

How Much Do I Spend?

What you spend and where you spend it will depend on what you’re trying to do. When your budget feels like this, every penny is important:

Man throws a single dollar billMakin' it sprinkle.

So we want to make sure you’re spending that single dolla dolla bill in the most effective way possible. Here's some advice from HubSpot's demand generation marketer Jessica Webb: "The majority of money you spend on paid efforts is usually calculated based on volume of clicks or impressions. Because of this, you'll often want to put more budget toward campaigns with higher-volume offers and audiences."

Your paid advertising costs will also change depending on how wide of an audience you are trying to reach. "You can look at Twitter advertising as an example," Webb explains. "You have to option to target your campaigns based on users' interests or keywords searched for. Interests are a much broader category, whereas smaller pockets of users are searching for any given keyword, therefore your interests-based audience is going to be much larger and require a larger budget."

True dat, Jessica. However, the reach of your ad campaigns is secondary to your return on investment, so be sure to calculate the ROI of your ad campaigns and refine them around what is most successful.

Now What?

The secret to a perfect digital ad campaign is that there is no secret. Show your customers what they want to see. Track your ads, check your results, and refine based on what worked and what didn’t.

There is no perfect time to post your tweets, no perfect amount of money to spend, and no one size fits all solution. But that’s actually good news!

Whatever your goals, budget, and digital ad history, we’d be happy to talk to you about how to reach your ideal customer and get the results you’re looking for.

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Max Willner

Max Willner

In his role as Digital Marketing Manager, Max provides digital ad strategy, campaign management, and SEO support for our clients. To help build ads and other content that engage visitors and improve ROI, he applies data-driven insight that allows us to create incisive, effective plans that boost clicks, conversions, and sales. His desk plant, Bob, provides fresh oxygen for impromptu yodeling competitions.

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