As far back as I can remember, there have been ads all over the internet. Digital advertising has come a long way since the days of those annoying static banners that showed little if any, creativity. Most of those ads weren’t even relevant to our interests.

As the internet grew in popularity, Google grew into the search behemoth it is today. We don’t even say that we’re searching the internet. We ‘google’. Some years after that, Facebook came into our lives and things have never been the same. Both tech companies have successfully found ways to make advertising affordable, effective and less annoying. Well, ‘annoying’ is relative. I’m a digital marketer, so I like to see the ads.

Get to know Google and Facebook

There’s no doubt digital advertising is huge. According to eMarketer, total U.S. ad spend for 2017 will grow 15.9 percent, which makes it an $83 billion industry. Facebook and Google will take the lion’s share of that spend. Google’s forecasted take is 32.4 percent, while Facebook’s projected take is 24.6 percent. Yahoo, the closest company behind Facebook, is projected to take just 2.3 percent of the 2017 spend.

If you’re looking to create a good digital advertising strategy, you want to make sure it includes Google and Facebook.

Digital ads are different from traditional ads

Because companies like Facebook and Google can track people’s online habits and behaviors, they can place ads in front of the people who are most likely to buy a particular product or service. This type of tracking and automation allows digital advertising to offer a number of benefits over traditional forms of advertising like print, radio or television.

First, digital advertising can provide a better return on investment (ROI) because digital ads can be measured. That allows you to do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t before you spend a lot of money on an ad that isn’t effective.

Digital ads can be more effective because you can target geographically, by product interest or even by online behaviors. It can also be less expensive than those traditional forms of advertising so everyone can play – from the smallest shop around the corner to the Fortune 500 brand.

So many types of digital ads are available

One thing most people won’t say aloud is that digital advertising can be confusing. There are a ton of digital ad types that can make it confusing. Here’s a breakdown of some of the popular ones:

Search Advertising

Google just wouldn’t be Google without its search engine and the ads you see whenever you search for something on Google. The ads appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Search ads can also appear throughout Google’s Search Network – the websites it partners with to show your ad to even more people.

Search is a must for any small business looking to sell a product or service locally. It’s cost-effective and you most likely won’t have to compete with big brands that have huge advertising budgets.

Display Advertising

If you want to get a bit more creative and definitely more visual, then you should consider search ads. Display ads are the modern-day banner skyscraper, square or button ads you see while you’re visiting some of your favorite sites.

Google also has a display network that works in much the same way as its search network.

Rich Media Advertising

Rich media describe ads that include video, audio or other interactive elements. This can be most effective for major brands that want to raise awareness because the ads encourage users to interact and engage with the content. Major brands are also more likely to want to lay down the cash for the production of these ads.

Ad Retargeting

If you’ve ever been to a website looking to buy something, like that new coffee maker you’ve had your eye on, and decided not to make that purchase, you may have noticed ads for coffee makers popping up everywhere you go online – from The New York Times to Facebook. It’s called ad retargeting or remarketing.

Websites embed a code that will tell online ad networks that you had an interest in purchasing a particular product or service. The ad network will show you ads for that product or service across the internet. These ads are typically display ads and they work well for both awareness raising and product sales.

Native Advertising

Sponsored content graphically designed to have the same look and feel as the website where they show up are known as native ads. You can think of it as the digital version of the old print advertorial. There are two types of native ads, display and social, that can both serve to raise awareness.

Digital ad networks dominate

Knowing some of the basic types of digital ads is not enough to be digital ad savvy. Understanding what digital ad networks are is helpful because these networks show your ad on various websites across the internet. Basically, an ad network aggregates ad space from many different websites and matches it to the kind of audience an advertiser is looking to reach.

Pricing for digital advertising is full of acronyms

One final benefit of digital advertising is the pricing. It’s often performance-based. That means you only pay for the ad if you get clicks. It sounds too good to be true, but when you look at pay-per-click ads (PPC), sometimes called cost-per-click ads (CPC), it can be a win-win for both the website and the advertiser.

PPC or CPC means that you only pay if someone clicks on your ad. Both search and display ads can be priced this way. You choose keywords that you think people who are looking for your product or service might search for. For example, if I sell lamps, I think someone might search for desk lamps.

Costs average between $1 and $2 for Google networks, but it can go as high as $50 or more if you are looking for popular or competitive keywords. Most ad networks will require you to set a daily or monthly budget.

Costs per thousand impressions (CPM) is used mostly for display ads. Advertisers pay for the number of people who will see the ad. For example, if an ad gets a million daily visitors and the ad is seen on half of the website’s pages, a CPM of $2 would mean a cost of $1000 for the advertiser.

You just can’t ignore the internet any longer when you devise the marketing strategy for your business. Digital advertising isn’t as confusing as you may think. It’s helped many businesses grow and acquire new clients. Now, it’s your turn.