Paid Web Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

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In a recent report, it was revealed that the average web user spends between 25 and 30 hours online every week. Some age groups spend more time on social media than watching television. Paid web marketing now earns massive percentages of marketing budgets. It is not in doubt that the internet is a major source of entertainment, and for shopping for goods and services. This means it’s also one of the best outlets for businesses to build an audience.

  • In 2014, total spending on web advertising exceeded $137.4bn (USD)
  • Businesses spend anything between 20% and 50% of their marketing budget on paid advertising, with Twitter (44% of budget on average) being the highest
  • The average proportion of revenue spent on marketing is around 10%

It’s quite clear that most businesses already value paid web marketing; it’s no longer a luxury – it’s a vital form of marketing outreach. Without it, businesses are unlikely to grow and highly likely to lose ground to their competitors. With more marketing budgets shifting from TV and Radio to paid web advertising, it is also becoming more complex. If you’re still new to paid online advertising, this guide will help you understand each channel and the basics to determine which channels may best be suited to your business.

Top Paid Marketing Methods

Facebook Ads

When purchasing paid advertising space on Facebook, users may target advertising to selected demographics such as age, gender and location. A more advanced feature is called “retargeting”. This keeps your product or service at the forefront of a customer’s mind by displaying adverts for items they have already researched. This is where Ads for products viewed on Amazon appear in the Facebook feed later. As a business, you have more chances to reach your intended audience by selecting ads to appear to customers based on their web retail history, including during a Cart Abandonment (when customers place items in their shopping cart but don’t complete the transaction before leaving the site).

Quick Tip: Customer awareness is they key to retargeting. Turn abandoned shopping carts into sales. This can be one of the easiest and quickest ways to capitalize on Facebook advertising. Facebook’s documentation has a great guide to help you get started: Getting started with custom audiences (retargeting) on Facebook.


Instagram has experienced growth for business users in 2017 with more brands than ever before signing up to Instagram for Business. The image and video sharing platform may not be suitable for all businesses in all industries, but the power of visual advertising is not in doubt in the majority of cases. They use the same system as Facebook so if you’re already using Facebook ads, you’ll feel right at home adapting to Instagram. You are able to appeal to demographics based on age, location, interests, income and other criteria to streamline your advertisements to the right people. As with Facebook, once you have reached your spending limit, the ads cease.

Quick Tip: Make sure your photography is on point and on brand. Instagram is all about images, but don’t forget the hashtags to help spread the word.


SnapChat Advertising

The messenger that uses brief video clips to have conversations may not be the first platform to use for advertising, but 2017 has been a period of growth for Snapchat for business users. Yet video ads are highly appealing – despite representing just 5% of web content, it is around 95% of viewed material. Snapchat is a natural progression of the importance of video advertising, especially in a time when businesses have just 6 seconds to capture the attention. The average Snapchat user opens the app around 18 times per day – that is a lot of advertising time. With Snapchat Adtools, you’ll be able to track your progress too. This is fresh to the paid web marketing eco-system, but a advertising channel many looking to reach younger audiences need to have on their radar.

Quick Tip: This platform requires innovation; use it to put a human face on your brand.

Search Engine Marketing

Search marketing encompasses the use of search engine ads such as Google Adwords, but other methods too. While Google is the largest search engine, it is still estimated that Bing sees about 20-30% of the internet’s search traffic, and as such can often be an economical alternative to Google Adwords. Organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is another well-known tactic (see Macy’s & Kohls in the Search Engine Results Page example above) for search marketing. Researching common keywords likely to drive visitors to your website and other content, and placing such keywords strategically in your content, is one of the oldest and most effective methods available today. Search marketing also includes using free methods such as web listings, which is especially important for a brick-and-mortar business with a physical location.

Quick Tip: Always use keyword research tools – most of these platforms have this ability, to effectively plan your paid advertising strategy. Knowing the most popular keywords within your niche will improve visibility. Other paid tools, including SEMrush and Moz are also popular. (We have written more on getting started with SEO here)

Google Adwords

AdWords is the world’s biggest search engine’s paid web marketing and advertising product working on a cost per click (CPC) basis. While more advanced advertisers can utilize a CPM or “cost per 1000 impressions”, a beginning Adwords advertiser is likely best off using the CPC method. Google Ads appear at the top and bottom of each search page with a small “Ad” icon. The advertisements only cost the organization if the person searching for the specific term clicks on the advert. The reasons for using Google Adwords are compelling: it is claimed that 80% of web users click on an advert instead of other links. Other search engines use similar methods, and these are cheaper, but they don’t get the traffic volume that Google can command. One of the most useful tools for Google Adwords is the segmentation option, which allows users to tailor when ads appear based on day of the week and time of day, depending on the user’s mood and buying habits. More robust advertising options exist for e-commerce businesses, including featured product ads.

Quick tip: Use specific long tail keywords. “Office furniture supplies Seattle” is more effective than “office supplies” and you will have less competition that you are bidding against. Remember, highest bid wins, but you won’t always reach your maximum, since bidding is based on what is called a dutch auction.

search engine results page for brown shoes

An example of sponsored product listings above Macy’s and Kohl’s organic search results in a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). (Source: Screenshot of



Linkedin is a very popular Business-to-Business paid media channel, though it is a more expensive one. The businesses selling high-priced solutions to other businesses find that this channel can be lucrative for reaching top executives and driving product awareness. With options to target specifically to the c-suite, you can reach some executives you may not otherwise be able to find on other platforms like Facebook. While there are also tactics you can employ to improve your company’s organic reach, or tactics for sales teams to use, using LinkedIn advertising to reach specific decision makers at scale can produce significant ROI.

Summarizing Your Paid Web Marketing Opportunities

Paid web marketing isn’t for everyone and can be a very cost-effective way of reaching your target customers. Depending on your business, paid marketing may be a great fit, such as an e-commerce business with low-cost products, while a high price specialty business service may not see as much success. As with all channels of marketing, it is best to consider all of the marketing channels available to you and determine which are best to put your money and efforts toward.

If you are just getting started with paid advertising or digital marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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