The Essential Online Marketing Channels Your Business Needs to Know About

01 february 2020

Getting started with online marketing can be like walking through a minefield. With so many steps to take and only one wrong move required to completely blow up your budget, it’s no wonder why so many businesses throw in the towel early on and accept that digital advertising simply isn’t for them. 

Don’t worry, though - if you’re in the same boat, there’s good news. 

If you’re looking for a way to navigate the turbulent world of online advertising, we’re here to help. In this blog series, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know, starting with everything you need to know about search and display advertising.

Let’s get started. Read on.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Two main channels reign supreme

Above all others, there are two key channels that dominate the digital marketing landscape - search and display. Here’s a quick-shot definition of what sets the two apart:

Search - Google, Bing and Yahoo

As the name suggests, search ads are shown in search engine results pages or “SERPs” for short. For example, if you search “wedding photographers near me” on a site like Google, Bing or Yahoo, these are the ads that pop up at the top of your results page.

Display - Google, Bing, Facebook and Instagram

Whereas search ads are short text snippets designed to drive clicks, display ads are typically large images or banner-style ads used to build brand awareness. These are distributed across websites via Google Ads, or across social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram via Facebook for Business.

Instead of being shown on search engine results pages, display ads can be shown on millions of different websites, helping you to generate increased exposure for your brand. 

Bing might seem like a small fish in a big pond, but that’s not necessarily the case. While Google’s 88.61% share accounts for over 3.5 billion searches a day, Bing still generates over 196 million. That’s a lot of potential customers.

The search market - target potential customers based on what they look up

By the simple act of explicitly searching terms related to whatever product or service you offer, it is assumed that these potential customers are close to making a purchase. You want to be right there and then when they decide to go ahead.

You’re probably familiar with Google - and for good reason. Since their inception in 1997, they’ve risen to dominate online search with a crazy 88.61% global market share (Bing follows far behind with 4.98%).

Bing commands a higher share in certain countries around the world (33% in the USA, 26% in the UK and 24% in Taiwan), but Google still comes out on top in those locations too.

Photo by Maranda Vandergriff on Unsplash

So how does search advertising work? 

Getting your search ads shown on Google and Bing is decided by a set series of metrics known as an ad auction - and the top spot doesn’t always go to the highest bidder. 

In fact, Google checks 3 main factors to decide where you rank - or whether you rank at all. Here’s how they do it: 

  1. Your PPC bid - this is where you tell Google how much you’re willing to pay per click to get a searcher to your website. This isn’t a fixed amount - you’ll often end up paying less - and you can change your bid at any time. 
  2. Your ad quality - how do your ads measure up against your competitors who are bidding on the same keyword? Google judges your ad based on how relevant it is to the person who’s seeing it, and how useful they’re likely to find it. This breaks out into a Quality Score, which we’ll cover in another post. 
  3. The predicted impact of your ad extensions - Google gives you the option to add “extensions” to your ads, such as phone numbers, or links to individual site pages. Even if your competitors are bidding higher than you. Google will rank you higher if it predicts that your extensions will be more impactful to searchers.

Bing Search vs. Google Search - who wins?

There’s no straight answer to this question - it depends on your brand. Whilst Google no doubt has a significantly larger audience, Bing has the added benefit of the financial savings that come with lower competition. The best way you can find out is to trial both of them with a small ad budget. 

Both Google and Bing are generous when it comes to giving out trial ad credit, so wait (or request) for a voucher to arrive by post or to hit your inbox and get started. 

Search tip: Bing might seem like a small fish in a big pond, but that’s not necessarily the case. While Google’s 88.61% share accounts for over 3.5 billion searches a day, Bing still generates over 196 million. That’s a lot of potential customers.

The Display Market - target potential customers where they hang out online

Display advertising falls into two separate categories - search engine and social media. 

Display ads might be managed through search engines like Google and Bing, but they don’t show up in the same places as search ads. They capture your target audience’s attention in other locations beyond the realms of search advertising.

After realising the sheer power their platform held, Google quickly built an interactive marketplace where website owners can sell advertising space on their websites. This allows business owners to get their ads displayed on specific sites, using precise audiences, demographics and interests to target their potential customers. So potential customers are profiled and ads displayed to them based on the different websites that they visit.

Alright, so what is display advertising used for? 

Great question. Display serves two core purposes within a business’ marketing plan:

1. Increased traffic and brand awareness

Display advertising yields a much lower average conversion rate than search ads, so it’s usually not an effective solution for directly driving sales. However, it does boast a significantly cheaper average cost-per-click (CPC), making it a great platform for driving traffic to your site and boosting overall brand awareness. 

2. Retargeting warm customers

The real power of display advertising lies in retargeting. Display ads give you the opportunity to target people who have previously visited your website but not converted, giving you a unique opportunity to incentivise them to return to your website and pick up where they left off. It’s kind of like a reminder. Many businesses generate their highest ROI from retargeting, making display ads a powerful addition to your overall strategy.

Did you know? One of the most powerful psychological foundations of display advertising is known as the Reticular Activating Sytem (RAS). Ever bought a car and then started seeing the same car everywhere? That’s because your brain has built a pathway to something it was never interested in before. If someone sees your display ad, they’re more likely to notice your product on a shelf, increasing your chances of making a sale.

TOP TIP: How to use your search and display results with Facebook Ads

With Facebook boasting 2.7 billion users across its core products, their advertising platform is an essential addition to any search and display campaign. 

Whilst Google and Bing are generally seen as competing with each other, Google and Facebook tend to compliment each other. Facebook gives you the ability to retarget previous website visitors with ads on their platform using a variety of different ad formats including: 

Link click ads - these help you to drive traffic to your website or landing page. 

Video ads - similar to link click ads, except using a video instead of an image. Videos typically perform better. 

Carousel ads - this lets you display up to 10 image, video and text combinations within a single ad, making it great for showing off a range of products. 

Facebook lead ads - an ideal method for generating leads within the Facebook platform by creating a contact/sign-up form.

If you’re looking to use Facebook ads, we suggest using them in tandem with Google search and display ads. Set up a Facebook ad with interest and demographics targeting to build brand awareness and drive website traffic, then retarget those who click on both Facebook and Google Ads Display Network to seal the deal and drive conversions.


Search and display marketing channels target potential customers at different stages in their ‘journey’ to becoming your customer.

Each marketing channel is powerful on its own, but the magic really happens when they are used in combination. Re-targeting customers that have shown an interest in your business is the culmination of this search and display marriage made in heaven. 

Reminding people what you have to offer is the holy grail, but in order to remind someone about you they first need to have visited your website and that’s why your initial advertising efforts on search and display are so important.

When was the last time you saw a retargeting ad? What product or service were you being reminded about?

Kickstart Your Digital Advertising Campaigns with Cleoo

Looking to advertise online but not sure where to start? Cleoo’s here to help. Discover what we can do for your business now. 

Written by Cleoo team

Latest articles