How to advertise online

Online advertising can be a useful addition to any communication campaign to help you reach the people you want to target.
Megaphone graphic

Want to get noticed online? Paying for online advertising can help you cut through all the information on the internet. The great thing about online advertising is that it can be a lot more targeted and specific, meaning you’ll be better able to reach the people you want. It could be a useful addition to any communication campaign that’s part of your communications plan.

How is online advertising different to traditional media?

If you’ve taken out an advert in your local paper, you know that unless you ask your clients, it’s hard to know if people see it, who they are, or if they take any sort of action on it. This means you can’t be confident that the right people are seeing your ad. Another issue is that your local paper may only come out once a week and your ad is tucked away at the back amidst other ads.

Online advertising is a lot different, especially when connected to a larger service or website. This is because websites capture a lot of data about the types of people who use their services. This means they can offer targeted options to advertisers which are a lot more specific than traditional media.

For example, you can choose to only advertise to people who live in your local area, are aged between 18-25 and are interested in sport.

This means that you can be more confident the ads you’re paying for are reaching the right audience.

Where can you advertise online?

Most major websites and social networks have advertising options for businesses. Each one is set up differently so it’s best to get started with websites that you know your target audience uses. Generally, Google and Facebook will be the starting point for many.

How does online advertising work?

Online advertising works in three main ways.

  1. You can advertise on a specific website – for example, advertising on Google’s search results or on Facebook means you work specifically with that website. Large websites that have a lot of users’ data will let you target specific demographics of people.
  2. You can advertise on an advertising network for your ads to appear on other websites – some websites (e.g. news sites, blogs etc) have ads on their website that are supplied by an advertising network. If you create an ad with the advertising network (e.g. Google Adsense), it may also appear on the websites that use the ad network’s services. You can choose the type of websites you would like your ads to appear on. For example, a website about healthy lifestyles may run ads from Google Adsense. If you have an ad on Google Adsense that targets people interested in fitness or health, it may appear on the health lifestyles website.
  3. You may also negotiate directly with websites to promote your website, but make sure you follow the advertising guidelines.

What should we consider when advertising online?

Planning is crucial

If you’re paying for advertising space, you want to make sure you get the best return on investment. Optimise your ads through good visuals and good copy, fit for the ad space you're given. You may even want to test different types of ads, images or text to see which performs the best.

Have a clear message and call-to-action

When advertising, it’s important that your viewers are compelled to take action. Simply putting your logo and phone number on an ad may not be enough. Make sure your ad has a compelling reason for people to click it.

Consider a partner with an advertising engine

Many smaller not-for-profits choose to partner with an organisation like Chuffed for ad campaigns that are seeking donations. They have access to large databases and can work with you to tailor your ads and to access engagement data so you can see what's working. See how one not-for-profit ran a successful campaign in this way.

ConnectingUp offer a range of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Agencies, alongside Chuffed who can support you to tailor your ads and reach new audiences.

Measuring outcomes takes effort

Measuring your ads' performance will help you improve and understand your return on investment. Make sure you have your measuring tools set up and that you have time to monitor how your ad performs. Google Analytics is a good starting point, along with any tools you're provided with. Setting up tracking codes, website goals and comparing click rates can all take time but is definitely worth the effort.

Google Ad Grants

Google Ad Grants allows you to create text-based Google ads for free and get access to tools to help build effective campaigns that can display on Google Search when people look for information related to your organisation. 

Rate this guide

Average: 4 (3 votes)

Status message

Thanks for rating this guide.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.