15 April

Back To Basics: A Guide to Online Advertising

By The Caybon Creative Team

Running online ad campaigns can be overwhelming. There are pay models to consider. There are a ton of different ad networks, each making different promises. And then there’s all of the jargon. But online advertising can also be an incredibly effective way of driving traffic to your website and introducing you to new customers. To help you get a handle on the basics, we’ve put together this guide on everything you need to know to start running your own online ad campaigns successfully.

Part One: Paid Channel Pricing Models

The first things to understand is pricing models. There are two main ones, CPM and PPC.


Cost per mille (thousand), or CPM, is the price that you pay for one thousand “impressions,” with an impression being an instance of an ad being displayed or an “impression” made on a user. This model works is usually offered for display (or visual) ads, which can contribute to brand awareness even when people don’t click on them.


  • Rates for CPMs can be inexpensive.
  • Ads are guaranteed to be shown the number of times you’ve paid for them to be seen.
  • This model is easy to budget for since you’re paying for a specific number of views.


  • Your money might not be well spent if people don’t click on your ads.
  • It’s hard to know how effective an ad purchase is until your campaign ends.
  • It can be difficult to generate a lot of web traffic with this model unless you really know what you’re doing.

Side note: Mediaplanet operates on a guaranteed reader model. What's that you ask? We guarantee our clients an exact number of targeted readers to our online content that their ads are aligned with. This makes the online ad process much more effective than the traditional CPM model when it comes to measuring a specific number of targeted readers (found through our extensive distribution strategy and loyal readership). For example, if you're looking for 5,000 actual people who meet your customer personas to read a relevant article with your ads on them, we'll deliver those readers straight to the content and your ads. 


Understanding pay per click (PPC) is simple. You only pay when people click on your ads. The advantage here is that you don’t waste money when your ads fail to get clicks.

Ads sold via this model are usually text ads or text ads with small images, like on Google Adwords. The price of PPC ads is based on the value of the keyword or phrase that trigger the ads, and it also takes into account the quality score (see below) of your ad and those of your competitors.


  • Clicks are more straightforward to track than impressions.
  • You pay for what you get. Buy 5,000 clicks and you get 5,000 clicks.
  • Since you’re only paying for what gets you a click, you don’t risk overspending to get the conversions you need.
  • You can place budget caps on campaigns so you don’t overspend.
  • You can update the number of PPC click ads and the variables associated with your ads in real time.
  • PPC campaigns can drive a lot of traffic to your site.
  • The ROI on PPC advertising is easily to calculate.


  • PPC campaigns can be expensive when you’re competing for popular keywords or expressions.
  • If you try to save money and base your PCC campaign on less popular keywords, you might not get many clicks (though, again, you won’t have to pay for clicks that you don’t get).
  • Just because someone clicks on your ad doesn’t mean they end up becoming a customer.
  • A full 50 percent of clicks are said to be accidental.

Less Common Forms of Online Advertising

Less common forms of online advertising include CPA, Revshare and retargeting. In CPA, or cost per acquisition, you only pay when a lead is generated. In Revshare, you share a portion of your profits with the affiliate network and affiliate that hosted your ad for you. Retargeting uses a kind of “cookie,” or a special piece of code, to let you anonymously track people who’ve visited your site as they surf the web. The code, provided by ad networks such as Retarger and Adroll, makes it so your ad display on those people’s devices later while they are looking at other websites.

Part Two: How to Pick the Best Ad Network

Choosing the right ad network isn’t always easy. What works for one industry doesn’t always work for another. But if you keep these three things in mind while you’re considering networks, you should be able to find a network that works best for you.

Think About the Targeting Options You Need

Choosing the best network starts by asking these questions. What targeting options do you need? Would interest-based targeting be more effective or would demographic-based targeting be? Or do you need both? Also, do you market toward consumers or B2B?

Consider How Ad Networks Align with User Experience

Different ad networks offer different user experiences, which affect how people are introduced to you. Do you want people to find you through targeted keywords that they’re researching online, like in Google AdWords or Bing? Do you want to build awareness about your business or your new products and services via Content Marketing? Or do you want people to find you on LinkedIn or Facebook in their feeds or while they’re scrolling through job listings?

Evaluate the Appeal of Each Network’s Ad Format

Then there’s the look and feel of the ads themselves. Do the network’s ad formats align with your needs? Do they let you tell the story you want to tell in a compelling way? Do they look attractive? Do they inspire users to engage with them?

Part Three: Paid Advertising Concepts You Should Know

Before you break out your credit card, you’ll also want to understand the finer details of the industry’s lingo. This will help you figure out what each network provides before you decide to commit your advertising budget to that particular network. Here are some of the most important terms and concepts.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting looks at the past activity of your potential customers in relation to your brand, and it displays ads for them based on their past activity. For example, say some downloaded your ebook or another lead magnet on your site, instead of displaying a random ad to that person, you can have the network show that person an ad for a relevant webinar.

Day Parting

Timing is everything, as they say. Which is why you might want to use an ad network that features day parting. This feature allows you to choose the time of day that your ad is displayed.


If your business is local or location-specific, you probably want an ad network that offers geotargeting. With it, you can limit the area where you ad is displayed to a particular geographic region. Mediaplanet offers our clients the opportunity to geotarget and it is extremely effective when it comes to reaching an interested audience for a brand or business with interest or locations in a specific area!

Interest-Based Targeting

This feature lets you limit your ad to people who have the specific hobbies or interests you specify.

Match Types

When you use a network like Google Adwords that serves up ads based on keyword searches, the search engine uses match types to determine which keywords trigger which ads. The three most match types are broad, phrase and exact. Broad match includes misspellings and synonyms in keyword searches. Phrase match includes all phrases that include the searched keywords. And exact match narrows the search to exact keyword or keywords.

Quality Score

A quality score is the rating that Google gives to your ad based on both the quality and relevance of your keywords and PPC ads. Google rewards ads with higher quality scores lower CPCs, which incentivizes advertisers to create high-quality ads.

Part Four: Creating Landing Pages that Convert

Clicks are only as valuable as what visitors to your site do next, right? After all, if people click your ads and don’t take you up on your call to action, it’s almost as if they didn’t visit your site at all. This points to the importance of having landing pages that educate people about what you have to offer and encourage them to take the next step in the customer journey.

There are many ways to do this, but a particularly effective one is to follow Neil Patel’s C.O.N.V.E.R.T.S formula. This mnemonic device includes all the ingredients you need to put together a successful landing page.

  • C = Clear Call to Action
  • O = Offer
  • N = Narrow Focus
  • V = VIA: Very Important Attributes
  • E = Effective Headline
  • R = Resolution-Savvy Layout
  • T = Tidy Visuals
  • S = Social Proof

Clear Call to Action

In online advertising, a call to action (CTA) is a button that visitors to your website click on to take action. Every effective one contains both value and relevance. Thus, you’ll want to make it clear to people that what you have to offer is valuable and you’ll also want to make sure it’s something they’re actually interested  in.


No one is going to click on your CTA without thinking that they’re going to get something in return. What you promise them is your offer. This could be a free ebook, a video, a discount, a trial, entry into a contest or any other lead magnet. It should also be relevant and enticing.

Narrow Focus

In a world where consumers are faced with an overwhelming number of choices, it helps to keep a narrow focus. Give people too many choices and they’ll give up before they decide which offer they’ll take you up on. Instead, keep your landing pages simple and offer only one thing at a time, whether that’s a free consultation, a complimentary ticket to an upcoming event or a contest entry.

VIA: Very Important Attributes

Getting your visitors to take action requires convincing them that there’s good to reason to do so. Stating these very important attributes in a brief yet effective way is key, since people will likely be overwhelmed if you bombard them with too much information. Remember also that you only need people to take this one step in the customer journey at this moment, not the whole journey.

Effective Headline

Clear, effective headlines will help people understand where they’ve landed and instantly clue them into the next step that you’re inviting them to take. If your headlines are misleading or confusing, your visitors aren’t likely to read your copy or click on your CTA.

Resolution-Savvy Layout

From desktops and laptops to tablets, phones and smart devices like watches, there are many ways of accessing your content — and your content needs to look great on all of them. That means checking every element of your landing page on every device type there is to see how it looks.

Tidy Visuals

As with your headlines, your visuals also need to be clear, relevant and appealing. They should also be simple, not get in your way and reflect your brand.

Social Proof

Who do you trust more to give you an honest opinion, your friends and neighbors (and people leaving online reviews) or businesses trying to sell you something? That’s why testimonials and reviews are so important. Add some of your best to your landing page and you’ll maximize the likelihood that people will take action.

In conclusion, paid advertising is an extremely effective way of driving traffic to your website and building brand awareness. With research and practice, your future campaigns will improve and your conversion rates will get better and better. It might take a little time, but it will be worth it. 

As always, if you're in need of help in these areas, be sure to schedule a call with one of our Marketing experts! 

Get more Content Marketing Insights!

* indicates required

Back to blog The Latest