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Digital advertising examples: a small business guide

Digital ads examples: a small business advertising guide

Key takeaways

  • Digital ads help business owners target specific audiences and provide real-time data tracking 
  • Native ads blend in with other content on platforms like social media, while display ads, such as banners and pop-ups, stand out on third-party sites
  • Many highly successful online ads, such as influencer or social media marketing, don’t look like ads but offer information or entertainment to particular customers

A smart digital marketing strategy is an essential part of every small business owner’s toolkit. Promoting your company online, where people spend nearly seven hours per day, keeps your business relevant and at the top of consumers’ minds. 

When you want your marketing to stand out, running digital ads is key. Here’s what you need to know about digital ads, along with seven digital advertising examples that demonstrate some of the best formats available to you.

What are digital ads?

Digital advertisements are paid promotions that appear on online marketing channels. When businesses purchase ads, they get prime placement for their brand message on digital platforms—for example, during YouTube videos or above the search results on Yelp.

Unlike traditional advertising (think billboards and TV commercials), digital ads allow your company to closely target audiences of your choice based on interests, location, and other characteristics. Rather than advertising to a mass audience, you can focus your message on a segment of your target market using keywords, demographic data, and other metrics to boost their engagement with your ad.

Digital advertising also allows you to track real-time data on ad performance metrics like your click-through rate and conversion rate. This empowers you to understand what works for your audience and adjust your digital marketing campaigns whenever you’re not hitting your goals.

7 digital advertising examples

Digital advertising has evolved as quickly as the internet. Advertising platforms are more abundant than ever, with many offering a variety of formats optimized for different devices (like smartphones) and audiences. 

Consider your target market, business goals, and budget when choosing which digital ad formats to invest in. To make the most of your marketing budget, choose ad platforms that customers trust and where they’re actively searching for a product or service similar to yours. 

Here are seven examples of digital advertising to consider using in your next digital marketing campaign.

1. Video ads

Digital ads examples: Young woman watching a video ad on her smartphone

With video consumption at an all-time high, video content marketing has become an incredibly popular way to reach digital audiences—and global video ad spend is growing by the year.

Video advertising can take a variety of formats. You’ll find videos on social media platforms or displayed on news feeds as standard ads. They can also be found on video streaming platforms such as YouTube, Hulu, and Facebook Watch.

When advertising on streaming services, your video ads will pop up before or during content. These ads are usually brief, which means you need to produce an eye-catching video to get instant engagement from your audience. For instance, YouTube and Facebook ads are rarely more than 15 seconds long—and longer ads on YouTube can be skipped after five seconds.

2. Audio ads

With the popularity of podcast and music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, digital audio ads are becoming more common. For podcast advertising specifically, Forbes reports that it delivers unbeatable performance because of the large volume of listenership, the trust that listeners have in hosts, and the high percentage of recall that listeners have for ads on that particular platform. 

You can purchase audio ads directly from streaming platforms if you want your message to show up between songs. Or you can purchase ad space directly from podcast creators if you want to place an ad within their content.

Similar to radio, you can also have a podcast host read your ad as part of their show. Though having a podcast host read your ad tends to be pricier, these ads are better able to leverage the host’s authority and trust with their listeners. Your ad will also be a permanent part of the show—even if someone listens to it months after it originally aired.

3. Display ads

Most of the digital ad examples we’ve discussed are native ads, which means they’re naturally woven into or between content on each platform, with appropriate disclosures that make it clear it’s sponsored content. On the other hand, display ads are placed on third-party sites and can include banner ads and pop-ups.

These digital ads are typically created through one core provider, like Yahoo or Taboola. Then, the provider will place your ad on sites within their display advertising network, which usually includes the sites of affiliated companies. This can help your digital ads show up on a variety of websites and platforms at once.

One thing to be mindful of, though, is that display ads are often blocked or skipped. In fact, roughly 40% of internet users in the U.S. have an ad blocker on their device, meaning these ads may never even appear in front of much of your target audience.

4. Yelp Ads

Digital advertising manager viewing an ad on her laptop

When you invest in Yelp Ads, your business listing shows up in a number of key places on the site and app, including above relevant search results and on your competitors’ pages. You can choose from a variety of call to action (CTA) buttons based on your ad goal—like boosting website traffic or receiving more calls—and customize your own ad copy, target keywords, target audience, and ad budget.

Running Yelp Ads is a cost-effective way to reach a target audience that’s ready to spend. In fact, 83% of users hire or buy from a business they found on Yelp. Plus, you’ll only pay when Yelp users click on your ad.

To further improve your advertising results or achieve other campaign goals, you can also consider running these Page Upgrades for as little as $1 a day:

  • Remove competitor ads: Keep other businesses from having their ads appear on your page
  • Business Highlights: Add eye-catching badges to highlight what makes your business unique, like “Free estimates” or “Woman-owned & operated”
  • Yelp Connect: Create posts and share updates about your business that are automatically promoted by Yelp via the app and email

See the full list of Page Upgrades, which can be bundled together for a discount with the Upgrade Package.

Ready to try Yelp Ads?

Put your business in front of more customers.

Start advertising

5. Social media marketing

Advertising on social media platforms allows your brand to reach your target audience directly on their news feeds. As your potential customers scroll through posts from their friends and family members, they’ll see your ads woven in between.

Social media digital advertising examples can commonly be found on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, SnapChat, and Instagram.

In addition to running traditional social media ads, you might want to promote your business through influencers—people on social media who have a loyal, engaged following within a specific niche (such as fitness or fashion). At least 50% of millennials and Gen Z-ers trust influencer recommendations, so it could be worthwhile to hire influencers in your area or industry to run an ad campaign promoting your brand. When an influencer shares an advertising message on your behalf, it can speed up your lead generation efforts.

6. Search ads

When free search engine optimization (SEO) tactics aren’t getting your site to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), paid search ads can help. PPC (pay-per-click) ads through Google Ads and other search platforms look similar to organic search results, but you pay to ensure better placement.

Search advertising allows your website or landing page to show up above algorithm-selected results on search sites like Bing, Google, and Yahoo. To get the best results from your ad, select the most relevant keywords and demographics to target. Focus on the same keywords that you’re using for your SEO efforts to generate the biggest impact.

7. Email ads

Email advertising can be a powerful tool for turning existing customers into repeat buyers. With email marketing, you can promote upcoming sales, offer discounts, share blog or social media content, and invite people to events. Emails have an impressive ROI of $36 for every $1 spent, making them one of the most cost-effective digital advertising options.

You’ll need to ask permission to add someone to your email list so they can start receiving your messages. Many businesses do this by prompting users to sign up for their email list when completing a purchase, or by having a pop-up on their webpages that offers a discount or other incentive for joining the list.

What are the best digital ads for small businesses?

Choosing the right types of ads for your business depends on your target market and goals. To be effective, ads must reach your ideal customers and drive them in the right direction, whether that’s to your store or website. And to make the most of your marketing budget, choose ad platforms, like Yelp, where high-intent customers are actively searching for a product or service similar to yours.

Ads that use a pay-per-click (PPC) payment model—like all standard Yelp, social media, and search engine ads—can also help you save money. PPC ads ensure you only pay when customers click on your advertisement, so you’re only investing in engaged shoppers. If you use an advertising method that charges based on total reach, you could end up paying a lot more than expected—and for audiences who never engaged with your ads.

It’s also better to focus on advertising methods that have more inherent trust with online users. For example, customers trust recommendations from social media influencers and podcast hosts. They trust business recommendations on Yelp. On the other hand, most internet users block or click away from display ads. Spend your money on advertising that reaches new customers in a way that they want to be reached, rather than interrupting what they were already doing online.

Achieving your business goals faster with digital ads 

For online marketing that stands out, running digital ads can’t be beat. Online advertising can target your ideal customers and put your brand message where they’re sure to see it. 

Common digital advertising examples include those on social networks, video streaming platforms, and search engines. Keep an eye out for budget-friendly options that are pay-per-click so you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. 

For more affordable advertising strategies, check out these eight budget-friendly small business advertising ideas.


What are the types of digital advertising?

There are several digital channels you could use to reach customers online. Some of the most popular options for small businesses include social media advertising, search engine marketing, email marketing, video ads, audio ads, display ads, and ads on Yelp.

What are the 5 A’s of digital marketing?

The five A’s are audience, assets, access, attribution, and automation. The idea behind them is to transform your marketing efforts by identifying the right customers online, offering a digital-focused experience, maximizing the reach of your marketing, measuring the value of different digital advertising options, and automating processes when possible. Focusing on the five A’s can improve your overall marketing strategy.

What are the 3 C’s of digital marketing?

High-quality marketing efforts depend on the 3 C’s: content, consistency, and correct channels. Many of the most successful online ads don’t look like ads at all—they offer information or entertainment that provides value to customers. These ads must be delivered consistently to build brand awareness. And you must use the digital channels that your audience uses, where they’ll be most receptive to your content.

What is the 3-second rule in digital marketing?

Online audiences have notoriously short attention spans. The three-second rule ensures your online advertising generates brand awareness and recall. Essentially, you need to make sure your brand is shown in the first three seconds of an ad. That way, even if customers don’t read or watch the entire ad, they will still remember your brand.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.