e’ve all been there. You start reading an article, browse around the bottom for the advertising, read it then have to leave to catch a bus.
Advertising is everywhere, but with all the choices out there, how do you choose between them? The easiest way to compare different types of ads is to know their main purpose: for sales, for price comparisons, for brand awareness or to make people aware of a new product.
The four types of ads
There are four main advertising types.
Paid search and display are the most powerful in terms of effectiveness. Content marketing is the least effective of all.
There are two main types of paid search: organic search and sponsored ads. You may use both these types, but you probably use organic search more than sponsored ads.
Why? Because sponsored ads are more susceptible to fake clicks and expensive traffic to your website.
Image caption Think content, not ads
They often give you a link which points to some advertisement somewhere on the web. If you do search for that something (and you’ll often do) you’ll see an advert. It will be either at the top of the page or near the bottom.
When you click on it you might be asked to sign up for something, to buy something, to take advantage of some special deal, to fill out an application, or just to read something about something else. But you won’t see a review of what you’re buying. You won’t get information about it.
That’s why sponsored ads are often linked from your homepage, not from some random blog post.
Advertisers are doing lots of “quality control” when they put ads in the top of a Google search result. They will test a few keywords at the beginning to make sure that their ads link to the right pages, they’ll make sure that the links they provide to the original source sites link back to the original site, they’ll make sure that the links lead to the same page on the website that’s advertising their product and they’ll make sure that the page linked to has all the “best” information available about their product.
They try to make sure that when the user clicks on the ad, they’ll be given all the information they need about the product in a way that’s readable and understandable.
After all, the users are searching for something specific and there’s a good chance they’ll be confused by ads that don’t make sense.
Paid search ads will often be accompanied by a keyword that’s aimed at the relevant search query. That keyword will tell you whether the ad is being shown as “sponsored” or “organic”.
Video ads will usually be an additional tool to attract a user who’s looking for something related to your product.
Search ads are displayed at the top of the page and usually at the top of the Google search results. They’re displayed as animated boxes at the top of the page. You can’t hide them and they will stay there until you click on them.
Image caption Ads for sponsored content
This is often described as a “graphic or image ad”, although in practice that’s misleading. It’s more like a text ad with a graphical overlay (or sometimes without the overlay).
Display ads are a bit like a banner ad. You usually only see the ad once and then you can click on it or leave it there. You’ll usually see an ad for something related to what you searched for, not for another product of the same type.
Display ads are targeted so that ads will be targeted to the appropriate type of user. If you search for a person’s name, an ad will show for you. If you search for a job, an ad will show for you. If you search for a type of video game, an ad will show for you.
More likely than not, the ad will be linked to something that you find interesting. It’ll probably be related to a person you’d be interested in, or it might be related to a company that you’re interested in.
Note that you might see an ad for a product that’s not related to the search you’re doing. When this happens, the advertiser is targeting your search even if you didn’t click on it. They’ll target you if you were trying to find a way to buy something they’re selling.
Adverts often include links to the original content, although they might be embedded.
For example, if you search for a video game you may see an ad for something related to the game that’s part of a massive ad campaign. An advertiser will probably want you to see that ad because they want you to think about their video game.
In a similar way, if you search for a job ad, you might see an ad for a company that’s hiring. This would be like the job ad but it would be related to the actual topic that you’re trying to look for in your job.
Organic Search Results
As I mentioned above, organic results are often much lower quality than sponsored search results. However, the main difference between the two is that organic results tend to have higher quality content and you’ll see a link to the website that published the information. You’ll often see a link to that website’s page on the right hand side of the page and the link will include a clear description of the information you’re looking for.
Organic results will have a red “Ads” tag on them. If you click on the tag, you’ll be taken to the website that is the source for the relevant information. When you click on it, you’ll usually get a clear explanation of what you’re looking for and if you see a web link to an actual page, you can click on it.
When I was at SEMrush we had a funnel of users that came through our website. This meant that they either left the website and clicked a link on our search ads or they went to our website and clicked a link on our organic results.
In some ways, these would be like two different users who started on a different page of our funnel but ended up on the same page. They were both looking for the same thing.
The users in the funnel that went through our organic results were either:
Looking for help with a specific problem
Looking for a website
Looking for a related article
Looking for something related to a specific topic (although sometimes they were looking for different things)
The people in the funnel that went through our sponsored search results were:
Looking for a specific information or item
Looking for a professional review
Looking for a specific video game or game type
Looking for a magazine or publication
There are a few things that a good advertiser will do that I don’t like:
I don’t like that you can only see the advertiser’s homepage if you click on the tag. This means that if the advertiser is targeting someone for something specific, they can put a link on the homepage to their website which isn’t in the funnel. If they do this, I don’t like that you can only see the advertiser’s homepage if you click on the tag. This means that if the advertiser is targeting someone for something specific, they can put a link on the homepage to their website which isn’t in the funnel.
I don’t like that there is no indication of what you’ll be getting when you click on a link. I want to know if I’m going to be directed to an ad, to a website, or if I’m going to see a video or short informative video.
I don’t like that there is no indication of how long the video is. I don’t like that there is no indication of how long the video is. I don’t like that there is no indication of how long the video is.
Sponsored Search Results
If you’re lucky, there might be a video on the sponsored search results page and a small description of what you’ll be seeing on the video is displayed at the bottom of the page. This might be something like “Rackspace is a leading cloud solutions provider dedicated to providing an exceptional customer experience”.
If you’re not so lucky, there might be a little box at the top of the page. You can click on this to see the video and, if you’re lucky, you’ll also be shown a small window that shows the video and the description.
I’ll talk more about the video content later in this guide, but the vast majority of videos on a sponsored search results page is to do with the customer service section of the website. There’s usually some sort of video of the person at the company that you’re trying to get help from. Some have a survey and some don’t. Some have written content like a tutorial video and some don’t.
The videos vary in length and in content. The time between when the video starts and when you’re taken to a customer service page on the website depends on the specific video.
Sometimes a video lasts for three minutes or less. Sometimes they are quite long. The average length of sponsored search results videos that I’ve seen ranges from 30 seconds to a few minutes. If there is content that has been uploaded to YouTube then it may appear on the sponsored search results page.
The average cost per click of a sponsored search results page is somewhere between $0.50 to $1.00. At $1.00 per click, the cost of running the test is $250 for the day.
There are four different types of video on a sponsored search results page:
A video tutorial
Videos that show step-by-step guides to things you can do on the website. Typically they are behind a toggle and you’re given a couple of seconds to press a button to skip to the next step.
A Brief Video
Videos are around a few minutes in length. Often they include text on them, like an overview of a section on the website.
Large Photo Gallery
Photos that are around three to five minutes in length. They might have a clip of the person who has taken the photo explaining how they took the photo and what the photo is of.
Videos are around a couple of minutes in length. Usually they are about 15 seconds in length, contain text on them and have a promotional link to the advertiser’s website at the bottom.
Final Thoughts on What Are the Four Types of Advertising?
There are four main types of adversting. Paid search, display ads, organic searches, and sponsored ads.
Do you want to learn more about charisma? Check out these Best Books on Advertising.