From banner ads, to pay per click (PPC) ad platforms like Google AdWords, to social media ads (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and again to native ads (for promoting content), paid advertising refers broadly to any form of digital advertising you can pay for.

The most common form of paid advertising is pay per click (PPC) which is where you pay each time a user clicks on an ad. There are other models, too, such as CPM (cost per impression), which is commonly used to gain reach for brand awareness, and RTB (real time bidding), which involves buying and selling ad impressions through real-time auctions on specific pages of specific sites.

We view paid advertising with acquisition in mind: i.e. if you want to deliver a specific number of leads or sales per month. It’s highly targeted, and enables you to get your brand in front of a specific group of people you already know are interested in what you’re offering. Paid advertising can also be used for branding, depending on exactly who, and how many people you’d like the brand to reach.

In the early stages of the web, paid advertising was essentially banner advertising, and were sold on the basis of available impressions on a website. As more advertisers have turned to digital as a marketing channel, the need for relevant targeting has grown. This was mainly led by the Google AdWords algorithm, which was set up to reward relevancy. That means that for the first time, digital advertising became less about how much you paid, and more about how useful it is to a customer.

While times have changed, there is still often a lack of knowledge about paid advertising, and how you can make it work for your business. Often, campaigns are executed without a real goal (‘just putting out an advert will do the trick!’) or strategy, which can lead to money being spent recklessly.

Google PPCs ads may be historically where the paid advertising volume lies, but this is not a guaranteed indication of the sorts of sites your target market are engaging with. When we try to find them, we’re always thinking of the bigger picture — to limit advertising to one channel is too narrow, and tricky to scale and grow.

All paid channels are extremely trackable, we use tools such as Google Analytics to see how clicks coming from different places behave — how they engage, convert, and influence other channels. This is essential if you’re going to understand how your audience behaves, and determine how you’re going to communicate with them in future.