how to make an online ad effective

It is not breaking news that the Internet has become a part of our everyday lives. It has changed the way we communicate, entertain ourselves, and most importantly, shop. With e-commerce sales more than tripling since 2015, it is obvious that a growing number of people all around the world do their buying and selling online.

One of the core functions of any business organization is effective advertising and online ads are a great way to get your message out? This article will help you master some key principles that will help you craft an effective online ad that drives sales and boost brand awareness.

Key Considerations for Making an Online Ad Effective

An online ad can be considered effective when it;

  • reaches out to as many people it can within the target audience,
  • drives across a clear message which resonates with the buyer, and
  • achieves its purpose (which can be boosting sales or simply raising brand awareness).

To achieve these three key goals there are several basic concepts that every online advertiser should keep in mind.

Understand the Basic Principles of Online Advertising

When it comes to designing an online ad there are some key concepts to keep in mind.

  • Have a clearly defined goal for your ad. Before you craft an online ad it’s important that you clearly outline what you aim to achieve with the ad. Do you want to boost sales? Improve awareness of your products and services? Create a more positive association with your brand?
  • Outline your strategy for improving the reach of your ads. This includes ensuring that your ads reach out to as many potential customers as possible. This involves targeting platforms that are commonly used by your target audience like social media platforms, popular web pages, and utilizing paid search advertising.Your ads should always fit into a larger part of your marketing strategy and sales funnel.
  • Ensure your message is as effective as possible. What effective messaging simply means is that your online ads should resonate with potential buyers on a personal level. This can be done by locally optimizing your content with local dialects, crafting ads targeted at particular regions or area codes, and using audience-specific content instead of generic topics.

TIP: Focus on describing the value the product provides for the buyer instead of simply describing the features of the product. Authentic user testimonials are another great way to build confidence in your product and convince potential customers.

  • Design effective call-to-action formats. A call-to-action is a prompt designed to encourage the viewer to take a particular action. This could be buying a product, reading an article, or watching a video. A good call-to-action should have certain key features; it should be well-designed and clickable, logically placed, and contain a clear and simple message.
  • Ensure that your ads are optimized for mobile devices. Even more rapid than the rise of e-commerce is the astronomical rise of mobile e-commerce, representing almost 80% of e-commerce activities. This rise has been so significant that it gave birth to its own moniker, mobile commerce (or m-commerce).

Ensuring that your ads are mobile-friendly includes adjusting your pay-per-click (PPC) bid adjustments to favor mobile devices, avoiding truncated texts, using a concise CTA, avoiding landscape images, optimizing site speed, and using an Ad Preview Tool.

Do Your Research

Effective understanding involves effective research and a comprehensive understanding of your target audience. This includes understanding your customer’s demographics (age, gender, political leanings, interests, etc), determining their specific needs and identifying how your product can solve these needs, as well as figuring out how best to craft your marketing message to best achieve your aim of effective online advertising.

After carrying out your research on your target demographic you should be able to determine the best way to reach out to your audience. For example, social media ads are a great way to reach out to a wide audience, but a social media platform like Facebook is almost three times as popular among Boomers as Gen Z.

Another important part of the research process is keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO). Almost half of all product searches start from Google, with more than a third of online purchases also being initiated from the popular search engine. Therefore, effective use of SEO will help your ads rank better on Search Engine Results Pages and expose your ads to a wider audience.

Focus On Growth

By growth, we simply mean increasing the number of people who are exposed to your ads.

When focusing on growth, it’s important to improve content engagement. Engagement simply refers to how people interact with your ads. Several great ways you can boost engagement are by optimizing your content to resonate with the individual tastes of your target demographic.

Switching up your ads regularly is also important. This is because spamming the same ads to your audience repeatedly can get tiresome and annoying. You want to focus on community building by fostering a long-term relationship with your audience. 

Paid ads are a great way to increase your engagement, especially when your main target audience utilizes search engines and large social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Tik Tok. 

But remember, its important to not lose sight of your ROI (return on investment). Because paid ads cost money, you want to make sure that the ads you are serving actually have an impact.

If it costs you more to serve the ad than you generate in revenue, then the ad is ineffective. Calculating your ROI also allows you to determine which type of ads are more effective, allocate your budget accordingly or determine whether or not to scrap the entire project.

A quick way of calculating this is;

ROI = (net profit / total cost) * 100

Understand the Different Ad Monetization Models

Effective online advertising is all about driving sales and by extension generating revenue. Therefore, understanding the different ways you can generate revenue through online ads is essential to carrying out a profitable online advertising campaign. There are several popular ways you can generate revenue through ads, they include:

  • Affiliate commissions (cost-per-acquisition), in this model the online advertisers are paid a fixed commission for every sale made through their ad.
  • Pay-per-click, in this model you are paid by the advertiser every time the ad is clicked.
  • Pay-per-action, this is similar to pay-per-click but the action, in this case, can also include sales, filling out a form, watching a video, and so on.
  • Cost-per-mille, this is an ad pricing model where you are paid for every 1000 impressions made on your ad.

Monitor the Effectiveness of Your Ads Using KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPI) is an umbrella term used to refer to data that has been collected, analyzed, and summarized into measurable statistics which allows the user to easily gauge the performance of a particular activity. KPIs are also commonly used in the world of digital marketing.

There are countless performance metrics to choose from, which is why it is important to determine which KPIs are relevant to your specific objective. Most KPIs are related to conversion (which simply means when a potential customer performs a desired action such as clicking a link or buying a product). This is because conversions are so much easier to measure. After all, they are specific, relevant to the purpose of advertising, and their progress can be easily tracked and compared.

Some important online advertising KPIs include;

  • Return on ad spend (ROAS), this is similar to ROI which has been outlined above.
  • Cost Per Acquisition / Cost Per Conversion / Cost Per Action / Cost Per Click, which describes the amount spent on a particular action.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), which describes the cost of acquiring a single customer.
  • Website conversions, how many visitors performed a particular desired action through your landing page.
  • Conversion rate, this is a percentage that is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of clicks on the ad.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR), this metric shows how many times your ad was clicked against how many times the same ad was displayed.
  • Earnings Per Click (EPC), this describes how much revenue your ugh generates per click.
  • Quality Score (Google AdSense) / Relevance Score (Facebook Ads), both these metrics describe how effective your use of keywords and ad ranking is when considering your target demographic. It is typically reported on a scale of 1-10.
  • Average Rank Position, this is similar to the Quality Score, however, it ranks your ad against other ads instead of giving an absolute score.
  • Bounce Rate, is the percentage of sessions a visitor viewed only a single page or triggered only a single request on the Analytics server.

Other less commonly used metrics include;

  • Revenue Per Keyword
  • Ratio of Paid Keywords to Overall Paid Traffic
  • Time Watched
  • Leads Acquired
  • Phone Call Leads
  • Cost-Per-Lead
  • Session-to-Contact Rate
  • Traffic Source Conversions
  • Engagement
  • Cost Per Share

For more info on measuring KPIs, check out this article on the best KPI dashboards for tracking business performance.


Effective online advertising involves increasing the reach of your ads, ensuring you can craft personalized messages which resonate with your audience and most especially prompt them to carry out the desired action. When it comes to running a successful online advertising campaign it is important to thoroughly understand your audience, figure out the best way to reach them, and keep an eye on key metrics which will allow you to measure the success of your ads.

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