Let’s face it. These days, PPC campaigns are almost a marketing necessity. While not every business needs to market online, for most, digital advertising is a critical part of their marketing strategy.

All of this, then, begs the question: what types of ads are best for your business?

When you have to pay for every click, picking the wrong online advertising strategy can be an expensive mistake. So, to help you out, I’m going to take a look at several different types of online advertising, their costs, strengths and weaknesses in the hopes of pointing you towards the right ad platform for your needs.

2019 is coming up quick, so now is the perfect time to decide whether you need to increase your investment in a particular ad platform, change directions or add a new PPC channel. Let’s get started.

Facebook Ads

In combination with its sister platform, Instagram Ads, Facebook Ads is one of the biggest advertising platforms around—and for good reason. Facebook is an incredibly powerful way to get in front of new audiences, build brand awareness and drive sales.

Facebook is particularly useful for smaller, newer businesses that don’t have a lot of established demand for their products or services. So, if you’re looking for a way to make a name for your business, Facebook is a pretty good way to go.

Facebook is also particularly well-suited to consumer-focused businesses. People hang out on Facebook to socialize, not to think about work, so it’s a great place for B2C businesses. That being said, Facebook certainly can work for B2B businesses—you just have to find the right approach.

Cost

As with all of the ad types we’ll be discussing, the actual cost of Facebook Ads is fairly subjective. It varies quite a bit depending on what you’re advertising and who you’re advertising to.

However, in general, you can expect to pay around $0.40-$1.50 per action (cost-per-action, or CPA) on Facebook. These costs are actually down some in 2019, so Facebook Ads is even cheaper than usual right now. Between that and Facebook’s cost-control options, Facebook is often one of the most affordable ad types out there.

This is good news, because Facebook is best for targeting new users—users who are a lot less likely to convert than users you might reach through some of the other ad types in this article. But, when your cost-per-click (CPC) is low, your CPA usually stays manageable, even if you actual conversion rate isn’t great compared to other platforms.

Strengths

As mentioned above, Facebook Ads really shine when you’re focused on building awareness and creating demand. Facebook has a ton of targeting and retargeting options to help you get in front of the right people and let them know what you have to sell.

Weaknesses

Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t that great if you want to target people who are actively looking for what you’re selling. Even if you do happen to have a business that is trying to market to an in-market audience that Facebook can target, you’ll still never have quite the results that you get from a Google Ads campaign.

On top of that, Facebook’s approval system can be a bit finicky. Even ads that should be fine sometimes get rejected for no apparent reason. If you’re trying to market something that falls into a gray area, Facebook probably isn’t a great fit.

Google Search Ads

Google was the first ad platform to really show what online advertising could do for businesses, and it still commands the largest share of digital ad spend.

Why? Because Google Ads work. They target people when they’re actively searching for solutions to a problem.

Unlike Facebook Ads, Google search ads are intent-driven. That means they show up in response to a user’s intent—at least, if you’re running them correctly.

The only problem is, if your business, product or service is new or a relative unknown, nobody will be searching for you. Google search ads are only as good as the awareness people have of their problem and your solution.

So, if you’re selling a product or service that meets a well-established need, Google is a good way to go. Otherwise, you’ll need to focus your efforts on generating awareness further up in your marketing funnel.

Cost

As you can probably imagine, all of that low-funnel intent comes at a serious price. Almost any keyword worth bidding on already has one or more advertisers bidding on it, so the CPC and CPA on Google Ads are generally the highest of any of the ad types in this article.

That being said, the specific CPC for different keywords varies quite a bit. For example, a keyword like “order herbs online” will only have a CPC of $.30-2.00.

On the other hand, law firm-related keywords can cost upwards of $200 per click in some instances.

However, just because a keyword costs $125, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth bidding on. A lawyer may be willing to spend a few hundred (or thousand) dollars to bring in a new client. An herbal company? Not so much.

Strengths

Google search ads are great when you want to get in front of people with high purchasing intent. It’s the ideal time to market: people are looking to buy and you’re there as the obvious choice. You might pay a lot more for their click, but you’re not paying for awareness—you’re paying for leads and/or sales.

Google search ads can also be a great way to play catch-up with more established competitors. If they’re getting a ton of organic traffic on keywords you’re not ranking for, you can pay to outrank them and siphon off some of that traffic.

Overall, for the right businesses (by which I mean “most businesses”), Google search ads are an incredibly powerful way to get in front of the right people at the right time.

Weaknesses

The downside to Google search ads? Affordability. Google Ads lets you pay to play on the search results page, but if you can’t afford to pay to win, this might not be the right game for you.

When the costs are too high or there simply isn’t any search volume for what you’re selling, Google Ads can be a huge exercise in frustration. While it’s a great fit for many businesses, it certainly isn’t right for everyone.

Google Display Ads

If you’re looking for a good way to build awareness outside of social media, Google display ads are a great option to consider.

Like Facebook Ads, Google display ads are an upper-funnel play. They allow you to show ads to your target audience on websites across the internet.

While at first glance, this might seem like a more limited form of Facebook advertising (and you could certainly make that argument), Google display ads really shine in one particular area: remarketing.

While display ads have been around for so long that people have developed “banner blindness”, remarketing allows you to cut through that blindness by running ads with familiar content in front of people that have already visited your website.

A good remarketing campaign reminds people that they were interested enough in your business to visit your site once.

It’s a different spin on brand awareness. Instead of trying to get people to realize that your business exists, you’re helping them remember that you exist—and they’re interested in buying from you.

While you can run remarketing campaigns on other platforms like Facebook, those campaigns can only really reach people on the platform itself. Google display ads allow your remarketing to follow people across the internet—a constant reminder that they should come back and buy.

Cost

As with Facebook and other awareness-generating platforms, Google display ads are quite a bit cheaper than Google search ads. In general, for a typical display ad campaign, you can expect to pay around $0.58 for a click.

For remarketing campaigns, however, the CPCs are usually quite a bit lower than that. Because the target audience is so much more specific, the competition is usually much lower. Lower competition means cheaper clicks, which means you’re bringing people back to your website at an incredibly affordable price.

Strengths

Google display ads are a great way to build awareness. With conventional campaigns, you can target specific sites your potential customers frequent, categories of sites or even pages with certain keywords.

So, if you want to spread the word about your business outside of social media, Google display ads can be a great way to do that.

With remarketing campaigns, you can ensure that people never forget your business. You can keep your content in front of them, address potential concerns, offer discounts or upsells—the sky’s the limit! It’s one of the easiest, most affordable ways to milk more out of your website traffic.

Weaknesses

In addition to “banner blindness”, many people view display ads as frustrating or irritating. To combat this, some people install ad blockers, which can prevent your ads from showing and limit the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Overall, Google display ad campaigns work best when your primary goal isn’t to capture active demand. But, if you’re focused on recapturing old traffic or building awareness, Google display ads can deliver great, affordable results.

LinkedIn Ads

Finally, we have the dark horse: LinkedIn Ads. LinkedIn Ads are often overlooked because LinkedIn as a platform is often overlooked. B2C businesses rightly consider LinkedIn a B2B marketing platform and most B2B businesses are so focused on other channels that they never really explore LinkedIn’s full potential.

But here’s the thing, for B2B businesses, LinkedIn Ads are an absolutely incredible opportunity. The targeting options alone make this almost a must-use option for many businesses and with the low competition, it’s a great place to build awareness and drive sales.

With the right approach, LinkedIn Ads can be a huge win for B2B businesses, but you have to be thoughtful about how you use this platform.

At its heart, LinkedIn Ads is still a brand-awareness platform. Just because you can target decision-makers in a particular vertical with a specific business size, that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to buy today.

Instead, LinkedIn Ads work best if you use those incredible targeting options to build brand awareness with your target audience. All of that specificity allows you to create focused, hyper-relevant ads that will put you on the radar of potential clients and customers. Then, with a little thoughtful nurturing, you can turn those opportunities into actual leads and sales.

Cost

Generally speaking, LinkedIn Ads are pricier than Facebook or Instagram Ads. You can usually expect to pay around $2.00 a click for in-feed placements (though paying more than this isn’t unusual, either).

Depending on your open rates, sponsored messages in InMail can be a cheaper way to go at $0.80 per send. But, if your open rates are low, this can end up being a far more expensive way to reach your target audience.

In either case, while LinkedIn Ads cost more than Facebook Ads, they still often make sense for B2B businesses because the value of a new sale is so much higher. There aren’t many people who will fork out $2,000 for a server, but there are a lot of businesses that will.

When your average sale is worth 10-1000x more than a B2C sale, you can afford to pay a little extra for advertising—if the platform is worth it. And, with LinkedIn Ads, it often is.

Strengths

When it comes to B2B marketing and targeting, it’s hard to beat LinkedIn Ads. You can get your ads in their feed, in their inbox and reach them in a place where they’re already thinking about business. Many people aren’t in work mode on Facebook, but on LinkedIn they’re always thinking about work in one way or another.

Weaknesses

The downside to LinkedIn Ads is that it isn’t nearly as well-refined as the others. LinkedIn Ads is still very much a work in progress and—while it’s improved a lot over the past few years—it definitely has some challenges to overcome.

One of these challenges is a lack of general data. While LinkedIn’s targeting options are unmatched for B2B advertising, it hasn’t had nearly as much advertising spend to learn from as other platforms. In a lot of ways, it’s like advertising in the early days of Google and Facebook, which can be a good and a bad thing.

Because of this lack of data, you’ll have to do a lot of experimentation on your own. However, once you find a sweet spot, you can really milk it, so it’s worth the work.

Final Thoughts

In my experience, most advertisers focus on one or maybe two ad types in their business. However, that’s kind of like only playing one string on a guitar. Sure, you can probably produce something decent, but you’re missing out on a lot of untapped potential.

So, as we head into 2019, take a look at your current marketing efforts, decide whether or not you’re investing in the right ad platforms and where you could find new opportunities. Good luck!