Paid Advertising Platforms In 2017 – Which One Is For You?

Posted 24.05.2017

By Paul Smith

Everyone who has dabbled in marketing has heard of Google Adwords – so much so that it’s almost become synonymous with the term ‘pay-per-click advertising’. Any business who wants visibility to a large quantity of traffic will be competing in the SERPs through one of the many aspects of the Adwords platform – search, display, remarketing – and with that, comes spend.

A poorly-managed paid advertising campaign – no matter what platform – will almost certainly cost more money than it generates, losing you valuable business and wasting your marketing budget. Furthermore, the cost-per-click within certain niches can be so high that a dedicated expert is almost a prerequisite to play!

Fortunately, there’s a number of platforms to choose from, each with their unique benefits to fit your marketing goals. Here’s our rundown of other services to consider for your search engine marketing strategies.

Bing Ads

Yes, Bing is very much a thing. Statistics show that over 10% of searches in the UK happen through Bing, compared to the 85% of Google – that’s not an insignificant amount of traffic. If you’re looking at a low-cost version of Google Adwords to test the waters with, this could be the answer for you.


  • Functionally The Same (Nearly) as Google Adwords

For users of Adwords, this lowers the barrier of creating a campaign massively. Bing Ads even has an ‘import campaigns’ option, which will allow you to import your Adwords campaign structure into Bing (we’d recommend checking over things once imported, of course!)

  • Lower Cost Than Other Platforms

As the search volume and conversion opportunities are lower than most platforms, many search engine marketing strategies don’t invest time into creating a Bing Ads campaign, meaning that there’s less competition and a lower cost. This is where you can benefit, capturing high placements on the results page for key search phrases and generating traffic.


  • Low Search Volume

Depending on your niche, this could be a deal breaker. As you’ll be receiving less traffic, a well-optimised account – by Adwords standards – might not have the reach necessary for a successful Bing Ads campaign. Sometimes you need to be a little more lenient to generate enough traffic to make it worth your time investment.

Bing Ads Keyword Planner screenshot

LinkedIn Ads

As you’ve probably already guessed, the express focus of LinkedIn advertising is to appeal to professionals who are looking to connect with others, looking to further their career or network on behalf of their business. Quite simply, if you’re not sure whether your service will be well-received by that affinity, it probably won’t!


  • Unique Audience

There really isn’t a better platform for pushing your adverts to a professional audience. Any business to business service should consider LinkedIn as a core part of their search engine marketing plans – this works well for enterprise software, creative agencies, and so forth.

  • Lower visibility

An odd pro, we admit. There’s less footfall on LinkedIn, which actually works in your favour – be targeted, don’t chase anyone and anything. Set up for the perfect audience and be confident that when your ads show you’re going to get more traction than other platforms.


  • High Cost of Entry

As the majority of targetable audiences are a gateway to much larger conversion values, meaning that you pay for the privilege of advertising to them. Costs will be much higher than almost any other platform – save for Google Adwords in specific niches – so be careful when embarking on a campaign via LinkedIn Ads.

Facebook Ads

As one of the leading social platforms available, the reach possible with ads is astonishing. Furthermore, the robust targeting features allow you to dig right down to the people who will be most interested in your service. It’s not without its oddities though, and you should be aware of them before throwing too much money in.


  • Incredible Targeting Options

Users provide Facebook with the perfect retargeting fuel – their digital footprint. Your audience can be whittled down to almost anything you can think of; age, location, job title, specific interests, and more. It’s powerful stuff, and – if done right – can amplify your content massively.

  • Pay For Reach

This can go both ways, but we generally have a positive experience with this billing method. As you pay to reach a certain number of users – say, £1.50 for 1,000 impressions – the amount you get out of your ads comes down to the quality of work you put in.

If you target effectively and create engaging media to go with it, you’ll get more performance for the same cost. Of course, a poor-quality ad will throw money way for the same reasons, so be diligent!


  • ECommerce Need Not Apply

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but Facebook is a social engagement tool above all else – users don’t often log in to go hunting for a good bargain, they’d rather see cat videos. This means that more often than not, eCommerce-focused advertising campaigns will see a poor return on investment, purely as people aren’t deep enough into a purchasing decision about any given product.

Facebook audience targeting screenshot

Google Display Network

Okay, we are admittedly back at Google – but for good reason! One of the overlooked methods of search engine marketing by smaller businesses, it can be a huge boon to your strategy.

This is one of the origins of the (slightly) annoying ads that occupy banners, squares and strips of many websites. You’ve seen them – you’ve probably scrolled right past them. And while that might be enough to put you off them for your business, they serve a useful and pretty important role in certain marketing strategies.


  • Nobody Clicks Them

A lot of people disregard display ads as a failed experiment when they see CTRs (click-through rates) much lower than what they’re used to with search ads, but it actually plays well into certain tactics.

For example, you can deliver highly-visual advertising to a massive amount of people – impressions don’t cost, keep in mind – and market your brand in a non-intrusive, almost subconscious fashion. Sure, you won’t be seeing a lot of direct conversions from a display ads campaign, but the brand visibility you get is not to be disregarded. Better yet, users who see your ad are tracked for a set period, and any conversion made on-site through other channels will be noted down as a ‘view-through conversion’ – handy stuff!

  • Placements & Remarketing

Being able to target specific domains – forums, key service catalogues, etc. – that you know your target demographic browse gives you some excellent leverage in getting your brand out to the right audience. Create a list of domains that you want to be promoted on and let Google do the rest.

Of course, the powerful remarketing tools are available for display ads too, which benefits you in another way. While placements want to be semantically similar to your service, remarketing lists allow you to keep your service visible to potential leads wherever they go.


  • Not a Sole Strategy

You can’t just run a display ads campaign and expect to see returns, unfortunately. A high-quality display campaign needs to support a larger marketing strategy that has a stronger sales funnel carved out. If you’re running a low-budget campaign to test the waters, there might not be room for a display network campaign. Check out our tips for designing successful display banners.

Any questions or seeking advice on your search engine marketing strategies? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to you! If you’re looking for paid advertising services, check out our work.

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