Demystifying 5 Popular Types of Online Ads

When you start talking media buys with your agency, and they start whipping out jargon like “pre-roll” and “AdWords,” it’s understandable to feel a little lost.

Not to worry. Here’s a quick guide to the most common types of digital advertising.

Search Ads

google search

Most commonly “Google AdWords”

You search for something on Google, Bing or Yahoo, and at the top of the results there are two or three entries marked “Ad” or “Sponsored.” These are search ads – a good way to make sure you appear high in search results, especially if your website doesn’t organically rank high for certain keywords. You can pay to show ads to people who typed your brand name incorrectly, or even for people searching for your competitor.

Pre-Roll Ads

Pre-Roll Ad

You click on a YouTube video about a dancing cat, but before it plays, you find yourself watching a commercial for running shoes. That’s a pre-roll ad. In the age of DVR and online streaming, pre-roll is becoming one of the last outlets for commercials. These spots can be anywhere from 15 seconds up, but shorter is recommended (since you’re essentially interrupting your viewers). After five seconds, viewers are usually allowed to skip pre-roll ads – so you need to hook them in those first few frames.

Display Ads

aka banner ads

Ad before a youtube video plays

These are square or rectangular graphic ads you encounter on various websites – from your webmail to your favorite blogs and news sites. Some sites sell their ad space directly to specific advertisers; some sell it to ad networks like Google’s AdSense, which can serve up ads to visitors based on their interests and behavior.

Subtypes include:

  • Retargeting – Ads for products you recently looked at or searched for.
  • Rich media – Interactive display ads that allow you to click different options or even play little games within the ad.
  • Takeovers – Animated display ads that take over part of your screen.

Native Ads

Native Ads

You know that column of articles running down the center of the Yahoo homepage? The ones marked “sponsored” are native ads. Native means they fit naturally into the site, because they link to content that is interesting or valuable in its own right – like an article, blog post or video; it’s not just a “buy me!” ad. In fact, the company that sponsored the ad is more of an afterthought. This is a great way to get exposure for your brand as an expert without hitting people over the head with it – for instance, an article about healthy foods to eat during chemo from an oncology center.

Facebook Ads

Ads on the side

There are a variety of types of Facebook ads that appear either in your feed or in the sidebar – and they offer lots of great ways to target people based on their interests and demographics. Learn more about Facebook ads here.

Balcom can handle all of these for you – figuring out which ads are best for your audience, finding the best placement, designing the ads, crafting the content and getting you the best possible deal on the media buy. Ask us about digital advertising.

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