The main online advertising options for small businesses explained

The main online advertising options for small businesses explained

In the modern digital age, there are many different formats and platforms available to help advertise a small business. The huge rise in popularity of search engines and social networks in particular has provided more ways of reaching potential customers than ever before.

Whilst all of the options can cause confusion for business owners, it is worth dedicating some time to researching and testing the various advertising methods on offer. If you can find an online advertising platform that works for you, it is possible to transform your business overnight and generate a significant increase in sales and enquiries.

To make things easier for those with a limited knowledge of online advertising, here is a brief description of the main options available.

Display advertising

The closest equivalent to the long established (but steadily declining) format of print advertising, is online display. When visiting many popular websites, particularly in the news and entertainment sector, you are likely to see display advertising.

Adverts are generally one of three popular sizes, containing images and text, and are usually purchased on a cost-per-thousand impressions (views) basis. For small business owners, there will be many options for this type of advertising offered by trade websites in your industry. There are no guaranteed results with display advertising and therefore it is widely viewed as being suitable for branding and awareness marketing campaigns, rather than direct response or lead generation campaigns.

Cost-per click

CPC advertising is becoming increasingly popular as businesses only have to pay for the clicks that they receive, meaning a guarantee of some kind of response for your money. The main search engines offer CPC advertising based on specific search results, which can be a great way for a new business to get traffic from search engines right from the moment they launch a new website.

CPC advertising is also offered by social media and industry-specific business websites. The advertising format generally consists of small and simple text adverts, sometimes accompanied by a logo or thumbnail image.

Business directories

Most small business owners will have been called by a salesperson from one of the main business directories at some point. Free listings are available on all such sites, but the only real drivers of enquires are the sponsored listings which dominate the top of the results in each category or location.

Sponsored directory listings can be effective for the right type of business, particularly if you are limited to a small and specific location. However, many people find that they don’t get a high number of responses for their money, and are increasingly opting for CPC search engine advertising instead. One advantage of business directories is that they do allow customers to add a lot of information about their services, prices, opening hours and contact details. This can act as an extra mini website which is useful, but we would advise customers to stick with a free listing and invest their budget in advertising with guaranteed results.


A cross between a display advert and a PR article, advertorials used to be very popular in newspapers and magazines. Consumers are generally much more cynical about advertising that tries to disguise itself as reference material now though. Whilst you do still see advertorials in print and online, we don’t expect this medium to last long now that results-driven online advertising is becoming much more popular.

At Rosco Digital Media we are always available to advise our customers on the various forms of advertising and marketing available to them. Please contact us today if you would like any more information about how we can help.

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