Online advertising for small businesses can be tricky for first-timers. There are so many different campaigns available, different platforms, different advertising types, and different features for each campaigns.

That’s why in this guide, we will discuss the 9 popular ways to advertise your small business online. We will also discuss the important things to know with each type, and how we can effectively implement them to our marketing efforts.


Without further ado, let us start with the first one.

1.Google’s Advertising Options

As the biggest platform on the internet, obviously Google is the main choice when it comes to the best online advertising for small business.

Google offers several different campaign types to suit many of your different needs:

  • Display Network (essentially display advertising, which we will discuss below)
  • Search Network (paid search advertising, you might want to check the PPC section below for more about this subject)
  • Search Network with Display Select, a combination of the above campaigns
  • Shopping, a type of display advertising where Google can dynamically display your e-commerce products around the web.
  • Video (Look at YouTube advertising section below)
  • Apps, a tailored campaign for mobile apps developer and publisher

Since Google is a huge platform with billions of users, however, the competition on Google Ads can be extremely high. This will also translate to a relatively high cost, so it is wise to also look at other platforms to diversify your investments.

2. Bing Ads

While Google AdWords is still the undisputed king of paid search advertising, there are good reasons to invest on Bing Ads as your alternative.

First, Bing’s market reach has grown to 33% in the U.S., and 9% worldwide. So, especially if you are in the U.S., it is a huge market. Other reasons you might consider Bing for your small business online advertising are:

Less competition, and thus cheaper cost

Bing Ads uses a similar auction system as Google Ads, but with significantly fewer competition (at least for now). So, you can target the popular keywords with cheaper CPCs. On average, the CPC cost is more than 30% cheaper on Bing compared to Google. The average position is also higher on Bing, leading to a higher CTR.

Three-in-one package

The Bing advertising network, which is Microsoft-owned, comprises of three different search engines: Yahoo, AOL, and Bing itself. When you advertise on Bing, your ad is actually displayed on all three platforms, meaning, more potential audience.


Almost 40% of the Bing Network is between 35-54 years old, and Yahoo is the most popular search engine for those aged 65 and above. Google, on the other hand, tend to have a younger audience. If you are targeting older people, Bing can be a great choice.

Better Granular Targeting

Bing offers more versatile granular targeting features compared to Google Ads. Bing Ads allow adjustments within the ad group level, while Google only allows us to customize on the campaign level. Better targeting will translate to better cost-efficiency.

As you can see, although Bing Ads’ reach is obviously lower than that of Google’s. However, Bing Ads offers a different market demographic, better features—especially targeting features—, and lower overall costs.

Starting a Bing Ads campaign is fairly simple, especially if you are already familiar with Google Adwords.   

3. Social Media Advertising

There are now more than 3 billion active social media users all over the world. So, as a small business online advertising option, obviously social media is a great choice in reaching more prospects.

We should also consider the fact that social media marketing is nowadays more about “pay-to-play”. Organic reach for most social media platforms have declined significantly in the past half decade or so, and so it is now virtually impossible to implement social media marketing without investing in advertising.

The most important thing when considering social media advertising is to choose the right platform. Generally, the top 5 social media platforms available are:


The most popular platform with the biggest audience consisting of many different demographic groups. Facebook Ads also offers very versatile targeting options so you can ultimately control your spending. Good for both B2B and B2C businesses.


Not as popular as back in the days, but Twitter is still a huge platform with relatively affordable advertising costs and high engagement rate. Generally, better for B2C advertising although B2B businesses can still take advantage of the huge user base.


The main platform to consider if you are a B2B small business. There are three different options to consider here: Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, and Text Ads, each with their own pros and cons.


If your business is mainly targeting women, Pinterest ad can be an effective choice for your small business advertising online. Pinterest ad averages at 430% ROI, which is very high, with a relatively low cost compared to other platforms.


Great choice especially for B2C businesses targeting younger people. Over 1 billion active users each month,with 2 million monthly advertisers.

4. YouTube Advertising (Google Adsense)

YouTube is definitely growing in popularity with over 1.9 billion users each month. According to a study, YouTube ads on mobile devices receive 83% viewer attention, compared to the average viewer attention for TV ads at around only 45%.

One major concern for investing on YouTube ads is that you will need to also invest in production. Most of YouTube ads are in video form with audible sound. However, this can be worth it in the long run with the huge number of potential viewers.

There are three different categories of YouTube ads:

TrueView Ads

Skippable ads that are placed at the beginning or in the middle of YouTube videos. Can also appear as “Ad” video when the viewer searched for related keywords.

TrueView ads can be skipped after five seconds, and in such cases, you only spend the cost for five seconds view time. So, TrueView ads are generally the most cost-effective.

Non-Skippable YouTube Ads

Can appear pre-roll or mid-roll (in the middle of 10-minute or longer videos). The maximum length is 20 seconds, and admittedly this ad form can be risky for two reasons:

  • Non-skippable ads are annoying, and if your ad is not high-quality and engaging, it can hurt your brand.
  • Can be costly since you will need to pay for the full 20-seconds even when the audience is not interested at all.

Bumper Ads

Shorter non-skippable ads that last only for six seconds maximum. Appear at the end o YouTube videos, and are paid for on a CPM basis (read further below to learn more about CPM).

5. Display Advertising

As the name suggest, display ad is a graphic or text advertising that appears on a website or social media platform. Also called banner advertising, and the most popular platform here is Google Adwords through Google’s Display Network. Facebook Ads is also a popular choice with its huge active users.

Although display ads are no longer as effective as in the past, the average click-through-rate is still relatively high at 0.46% with 0.77% conversion rate, considering the relatively affordable costs.

As with YouTube ads, here you will also need to invest on production to publish a high-quality and engaging ad creative.

6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising or

Pay-per-click (PPC), or sometimes called CPC (Cost-per-click) advertising is technically a paying model where we pay the ad publisher only when the ad is clicked.

There are many different types of PPC ads (including display advertising discussed above). However, the most common type is paid search advertising, where a text ad appears when people search for the target keyword.

Again, the most popular platform here for paid search is Google Adwords, which is fairly obvious given the size of Google as a search engine. Bing Ads, which we have discussed above, is also a popular choice.

Generally, the PPC cost is determined through a bidding system we call ad auction or PPC auction. For example, if we are targeting the keyword “pizza in New York”, we can bid for the keyword. Let’s say 3 of your competitors are also bidding for the same keyword. In this case, Google or Bing will do a complex algorithmic calculation to determine which ads are displayed and in which order.

So, your PPC cost can vary depending on many different factors, and you might want to check out this guide to learn more about calculating PPC cost and the affecting factors.

7. CPM Advertising

Similar to PPC/CPC, CPM is a paying model where an advertiser pay the publisher for each impression (each time the ad is displayed to one user). In this case, CPM stands for Cost Per Mile or Cost Per Thousand Impressions, so the advertiser must pay for 1,000 advertisement impressions. If the cost is calculated for only one impression, then we use the term CPI (Cost Per Impression).

As mentioned, Bumper Ads for YouTube use CPM as the advertising model.

8. CPA Advertising

CPA stands for Cost Per Action, and sometimes also called PPA (Pay Per Acquisition) or CPC (Cost Per Conversion).

So, in this advertising model, the advertiser will only need to pay the publisher when a conversion was made. It can be a sale, click, download, sign up, or any other actions..

As you might have guessed, the main advantage of this model is cost-efficiency, since you will only need to pay when a conversion is generated. You might want to check out this guide by Backlinko for more about CPA advertising, as well as the available options.

9. Remarketing

Remarketing is a fairly new advertising model where your ad is displayed to those who have visited your site, or have triggered certain actions like searched for a specific keyword or visited other websites (including your competitors).

In short, remarketing allows us to display our ads to those who have shown interest, and thus can maximize cost efficiency and ROI.

The most popular platforms offering remarketing is Google Ads (for the Display ads) and Facebook Ads, and you might want to check out this guide to learn more about remarketing.

Generally, if you are planning to invest on display advertising, you should definitely consider remarketing to maximize.

End Words

With so many different ways to advertise your small business online, the most important thing to remember is that there’s not one single best channel where you should invest all of your budget.

All the different channels has their own pros and cons, and so the idea is to integrate all (or at least, some) of them to create a working marketing campaign.

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